Entomology, chemical ecology, evidence-based environmentalism and science in general. I like big bugs and I cannot lie.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The international language of suspicion

So I'm back down on the coast, with a few samples, a few pupae that I hope are still alive and the majority of my marbles. I've just come back from visiting my fieldworker D's wife, daughter and extended family who touchingly and quite out of the blue presented me with a dress for myself and a shirt for the bloke.

The Gambia is so different from everything I'm used to that it sometimes feels like I've landed on a different planet, until something startles me into realising just how connected we all are. Meeting D's wife's aunt, who dresses like a traditional village wife and speaks flawless English after living in Bromley for two years, was one such event but the person who really surprised me was D's brother in law, a school headmaster. We got talking about how I'd get back to the hotel, D explaining that he would accompany me in the taxi, a plan which the headmaster approved of. He then announced, and I quote pretty much word for word:

"It is good that you are going with her because it is not safe now in The Gambia. Before it was safe for a woman at night but now they let anybody into the country, all these Senegalese and Nigerians. Sometimes now I go into Banjul and all I hear are languages that I don't understand."

I burst out laughing, a bit of a courtesy fail that I had to talk myself out of, but I think that just goes to show that whatever our cultural difference people all over the world are all the same. We're all so frightened of each other but even the more prejudiced members of society are prejudiced in exactly the same way.

That's about as philosophical as I get when sleep deprived, high on Coca Cola and demob happy, so I'll leave you with that thought and try to finally get some sleep. Night all.

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