We've booked our next trip to the Gambia. Just a few weeks to wait then we'll be walking down the steps from the plane into that lovely wall of heat and welcome. Our driver, now a longstanding family friend, will be waiting with news of his lovely family, and we'll chat as we drive along familiar roads to our favourite hotel in Kotu.
We'll settle in as quickly as possible then join our friends for a welcome bottle of Julbrew by the pool. Domada of Benechin? Decisions, decisions. We'll chat about our plans, which school to visit first, what does the clinic need, how can we help the hospital, how are our friends and their children going on? Has Fatou passed her exams, is Lamin married yet, how at the babies doing, how is Amadou doing after his operation, all these and ten times more before we settle down to sleep.
And we'll be wondering, not for the first time, if this will be our final visit to this tiny country of wonderful people and terrible problems?
Age is against us as are the insurance premiums which we pay to cover our travels. Last year our premium cost more than our travel and accommodation.
With luck and a bit more publicity the Malinding books will continue to bring in some revenue, but if we cannot continue to visit and see for ourselves the Charity's money is being well spent I don't see how we can go on accepting money from family and friends. Up till now we can say to our supporters "Thank you for you gift; we used it to help Ami with her education and examination fees and we've see her certificates. She sends her thanks." If we can't travel we can't honestly report that donations have been properly used.
And also, being honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that we are not as fit as we used to be! We both plod on, coping with annoying medical conditions which are beginning to prove a nuisance.
Hopefully, we'll feel better when we walk off the plane - so far, the magic of Africa has drawn us back to the continent where human life began. Fingers crossed - see you by the pool, or in the market at Bakau, maybe by the crocodile pool, or in the fish market?
As I said before, fingers crossed! I must get on with Jodie Sonko's second book ....