We remain in the midst of some major construction projects here in the village. Praise God for my wonderful employees who are really taking the lead and helping out with everything. However, the tubaab (white person, that’s me) still has to be in charge of handing out the funds and making some of the financial decisions; there is a budget. So, after drilling the well (see previous posts) and building this 18 foot tall water tower (see picture below) it was time to buy a 1000+ gallon water tank, piping, a pump for the well, solar panels for the pump and much more. Now, you remember that I live in a rural village on the side of the river that is not where the big stores are so all of those items also had to get on the ferry and across the river to our village.
The day started with a short shopping list, I had no clue what we needed to buy and a large purse full of what I hoped would be enough cash (no credit cards accepted here). Myself and our super helpful employee set off at 0600 for the ferry to get us across to the city and to “hardware row”. This is a crazy busy street with over 50 very small hardware stores full of stuff that you have to dig through to find what you might be looking for. There are no Home Depots or Lowes here. Praise God we got on a boat about 0830 and arrived at “hardware row” about 9am. We called the worker who will be installing the water tank, piping, pump and all the other stuff to meet us at hardware row and praise God he has one favorite store that he likes to use. This store was easy to get to and and it was a nice store. Most of the time I just sat in a chair in front of a wonderful fan (see picture below) while they did the negotiating and looking for what we needed. I actually enjoyed the fan so much that I bought it for a teammate. I did have to step in a few times and remind the workers that there was a budget, like when he wanted to spend more money than I had in my purse for everything on only one of the items! Once we settled on a price and the owners of the shop found all the items we needed (they had to come from other warehouses) we sat and waited and waited and waited. The items arrived in true West African fashion with a tank on top of the car that was almost larger than the car. Once all the money was spent, my job was done and our employee was left with getting all of this stuff across the river. God had already worked out a plan for that, a truck driver who lives in our village was taking a load of cashews to be off loaded around the corner from hardware row AND he had planned to return to our village with an empty truck on the same day we had planned our shopping adventure! So, off the supplies went and off I went for grocery shopping. I received a phone call that everything had arrived and was safely unloaded by 5pm. All in all this was an extremely efficient Gambian shopping experience, BUT I hope it makes you appreciate your local hardware store!