A very Dutch death

The new year had barely begun when I learned of the death of a colleague who worked in the office opposite mine. A very Dutch death, he was out cycling on New Year’s Eve, probably going home to celebrate with his wife and four kids, when he had a heart attack and ended up in the sloot, or water-filled ditch that line many country roads here. His body was later found in the water.

The wind has been very strong these last few days, gusting up to Force 9, so maybe the exertion of cycling was too much for his heart. I don’t remember him as being especially unhealthy, and maybe he wasn’t — he was only 45.

No comment

His death has been on my mind since I heard about it. After all, I have four kids too, and next week … I’m turning 45.

100% accurate weather forecasting

Forecast the weather for last week

100% accurate!

Destination Beaufort, Hérault. So laid back the weather forecast is for last week.

Verse-moi encore du Ricard, il fait beau, fin d’histoire !


There’s no Internet connection in the rental villa, so I’m also looking forward to reading a lot, with a tall glass of chilled wine and the sound of cicadas in the pines.

I borrowed some books from our local library this week, for only the second time in 18 months. We go almost every week, but I usually focus on getting stuff for the kids and making sure they’re not trashing the comic book section. Our visits end with me cursing impatiently as I try to finish all the jigsaw puzzles the little kids have emptied out — Those 36-piece ones are a bitch!

This last visit, I managed to sneak away for a couple of minutes to find some books for myself. I only got to Amis, Adiga, Barry and Chabon before the Samster started climbing up my leg. I shook him off, hid round the other side of the bookcase and grabbed a Roddy Doyle. At this rate I might make it halfway through the alphabet by … 2014.

Stranded on Tin Can Island

Our household goods and car are enjoying their last night on Tin Can Island, a tropical paradise for 40-foot containers off the coast of Lagos.

Buxsailor tracking table

Our goods should have arrived in Rotterdam last week, but as a result of congestion at the port, they had a bonus ten days of cocktails and afrobeat on Tin Can island, dodging pirates and acting inconspicuous … as only a 40-foot container can.

God knows why our shipper in Dakar put our stuff on this ship — it stops at every lampost round the Bight of Guinea before turning round and heading north to Europe. It’s no wonder M. Calasans of CATT déménagements has stopped replying to my emails — honte à toi, Patrice !

At least we know where the ship is now, thanks to fascinating tracking sites such as this.

Of course, given our paranoia experience of double-dealing African officialdom, we cannot be sure that our container actually contains our goods; it is perfectly possible that one or more Senegalese services “rerouted” our goods before the container was sealed. It wouldn’t be the first time a container was “washed overboard”.

What we can be sure of is that baby #4 will be here before our baby goods, so we’ve started buying and borrowing the basics as best we can: bath, blanket, bibs and bed.

The “B”s are covered.

Now, has anyone got a pram going spare?

Leaving this place

I’m not profligate with my categories (nor with my posts). So when I see that I have 22 posts in the category “Leaving this place”, I know that I’ve been leaving more than I’ve been staying these last few years.

And on a night like this, at 1:13 am, with the cold Harmattan wind whipping through the palm trees, I can say, enough is enough.

Once the kids (1, 2, 3) were in bed, Mr B and I got down to the real work of the day: sorting through our stuff before the packers arrive. In comparison with previous blogged moves, it’s more like our leaving Rome than our leaving Kingston. The difference is that now, as in Rome, we are simply sorting stuff for the movers to pack, whereas in Kingston, due to a broken-down removals lorry arriving 8 hours late, Mr B and I, 7 months pregnant, ended up doing all the packing — humping and heaving — ourselves.

Bwoy! Were we busted!

This time we’re just sorting into stuff to bin, stuff to take on the plane, stuff to give to the US club, stuff to donate to charity, stuff to give to colleagues, stuff to give to the home help … OK … so that’s why it’s now 1:34 am.

… zzzzzzzzzzzzz ……

I feel like Donald Trump

My cellphone runs flat each day. The battery is fine; it wears out because I spend most of my waking hours with the phone pressed close to my ear. Callers always seem to be surrounded by fighting couples with screaming children, stuck in heavy traffic outside a mosque with a new 5000W PA from the Saudis … either that or it’s a sign of my aging that I can’t filter sounds any more.

Hey, why beat about the bush: I hate cellphones. I hated regular phones already. Why do I have to be always available? I already get annoyed by the salesperson who answers another customer on the phone when I’m in the midde of a purchase. Doesn’t the person who’s actually, physically in front of you trump the other who couldn’t be bothered to quit their office/house/bed?

But I’m digressing to soon.

Why do I bother to spend so much time on the phone if I hate it that much? Sales, baby! I’ve discovered (yet another) new talent: wheelin’ ‘n’ dealin’! Buy low, sell high. Or in our case, buy tax free, reduce by 20% for six months’ use, bite your nails and count the days, then reduce by another 10% and bam! Reel ’em in!

What the hell am I talking about?

We’re moving on.

We’re clearing out.



I made a little website to sell our excess stuff — how the hell did we end up with three couches? — and have had 10,000 hits and 1,000 follow-up calls. While I was talking to one “customer”, I had two other callers lined up and an SMS on the side. It has been completely crazy and a hell of a thing to manage, with people coming by at all hours with wads of cash (:D) and others getting annoyed that I’d already sold the cutting board with an inbuilt drawer with four knives … Please stop calling … it wasn’t so great (actually I barely used it; I thought it was crap).

But it’s all good.

We’re leaving this place.

It’s the last time.

I’d say it’s for the kids — #4 due in April! — but it’s for all of us, truth be told.

Tired of corruption, incompetence and religious intolerance.

Seeking independence, respect for others and for the community, streets that get cleaned, people who respect their environment, bicycles, and eating food without worrying about the after effects for the rest of the evening.

Sorry Senegal. The spirit of Teranga (hospitality) passed us by. We leave with a feeling on unrealized potential on your part and our own. We would have liked to have enjoyed you more, and we would have liked the many wonderful people we have met to be able to fulfill their dreams.

Unfortunately we were all ultimately ground down by the chicaneries and nepotism, the hands-off, scratch-my-back, close-one-eye, grease-my-palm, pay-your-dues, know-your-place, kiss-my-ass, can’t-lose-face attitude that permeates all activity in Senegal.

(… to be continued … when I get off the phone…)