Friday, November 09, 2007

7th November.
Yesterday there was a change. Quite noticeably the new season arrived with a drop in temperature accompanied by the first gusts of the Harmattan, sweeping down from the Sahara, enveloping the surrounding mudflats in a pale yellow haze and saturating the bright colours which has recently been the unaccustomed palette of Djenne. Once more we return to the earth colours of the Sahel. The water is gone, more or less, and soon Baba and his friends can start playing on the football field which has lain submerged under the recent floods.
I am sitting in the bar. There are no guests tonight, so we have not put on the generator. The laptop screen is the only light, apart from some petrol lamps on the tables and in the garden there are the new solar powered fairy lights I brought back from England, making acquaintance with their elders, the venerable Charlie Dimmock Woolworths solar lights which have served so well from the very beginning. The newcomers are draped across the branches of the banana trees, and in the pitch black they are taking on the shape of unknown constellations from another universe perhaps.
Unknown insects the size of small mice are throwing themselves kamikaze style at the laptop screen.
I went riding tonight in the soft ochre evening on Napoleon who was on great form as we galloped across the fields which have newly emerged from the floods.
All this may sound idyllic, and it probably is. But I am ladened down with the enormous tasks that surround me. We have to rebuild and raise the level of the land for next year.
I wanted to start building the MaliMali studios where beautiful things would happen and work would be created for the people of Djenne. I have had to postpone it- I am so sorry for Kadija the jeweller and the others. I have to sort out the hotel first of all. And of course I am grumpy most of the time. Things are just so trying here. It may of course just be my character flaws playing up- lack of patience and short temper. But I am not so sure- I spent six weeks in England not being angry once, I believe. But here I spend 50 % of my time being angry!
I am waiting for Keita to arrive to have dinner- yes, here he comes, I hear the sound of his two stroke trail bike arriving, so speak soon!
Next day.
To cheer myself up I have bought the staff new uniforms. Traditional embroidered boubous for senior staff – Beigna and Baba, and the same thing but without embroidery for those of less elevated ranks: Igor and Ali, and our new gardener Ibrahim. This caused general hilarity as they tried on the traditional big pants which goes with the outfits. Baba is refusing to wear the uniform in town. It doesn’t fit with his idea of cool: he is a modern Malian man as is evident by the mobile phone which is more or less permanently fixed to his ear. I am not quite sure if there are actual conversations going on or if he is just pretending..


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