Monday, April 23, 2007

Back to The Gambia

It is impossible to convey the sense and sensation of rejuvenation that revisiting The Gambia brings. We are here for two weeks, ostensibly to attend a spiritual retreat for folks from Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and Christian Reformed World Missions. The retreat lasts from April 26 to May 1, and we are staying a few days extra before and after. This extra time in particular is as close to heavenly as we have experienced in a long time. The bliss is due in part to fairly logical reasons familiar to all vacationers: we are free from our regular but busy workload, we are particularly tired from a couple months of extra duty, and we are in a different location. But there is more: running water means no hauling it from a well everyday, and feeling clean for the first time in a year from real cascading hot showers, and Gambian temperatures that are ten degrees cooler, a view that is from a postcard, and then there is the breeze.

I must pause here for effect.

The Atlantic Ocean wind off of The Gambia is like the Balm of Gilead. It is steady, cool and refreshing every minute of the day. Our hosts tell us it never stops, and probably averages 20 miles an hour all day, but from about 5pm until morning, it averages 30 miles an hour. Coming from the colossal heat, humidity, and relative stillness of Liberian air, the breeze exhilarates and heals.

I ain’t kiddin’. These zephyrs do not simply waft over the body, they massage the soul. They carry our anxieties and tension away with them as they pass.

So, now I’m thinking only those privileged to work in a climate like Liberia get to experience the breeze like we do. Which in a weird and ironic way makes me appreciate Liberia more. There is a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m grokking the moment too much to pursue it.

Anyway, we arrived very late Friday and have relished each hour of our three days here so far. We’ve got a few pictures, but Blogger once again is only allowing this map. Check back later.

The Gambia-- a country within a country. We are just a little south of Bakau, west of the capital Banjul.