Maintenance: It’s a Constant Battle

4 Jun

One of the hardest aspects of life here in Gambia is maintenance. Of course, I know everyone has to keep their house maintained – my house in Devon needed roofing work and a complete new bathroom a couple of years ago. But here at Balaba, there’s something that makes it hugely difficult to keep houses, roofs and fences in good order for more than a year or two – termites.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you might remember I wrote about the work that needed to be done on one of our accommodation blocks (The War Against the Termites). The termites had burrowed underneath, leaving quite large holes under the foundations of the block. In the rainy season these holes fill with water and the building literally shifts if the holes aren’t repaired.

So Lamin spent a long time digging out the termite-ridden soil, filling the holes with concrete, cementing holes in the wall, and putting the building back into good condition. But now it needs doing again, so that’s another job on the horizon before the rains arrive next month.

You may also remember I wrote about how we used our malina trees to make beds (How to Make A Bed the Gambian Way). We felled some of our trees, split the trunks and sent the wood to the sawmill to be made into planks. We then had beautiful beds made for all our rooms But now only one of those beds is left.

So last season, Lamin’s brother Abu came and made us some concrete beds. These are much more practical (hopefully it will give the termites a toothache!), and they also look amazing. Abu spent hours creating gorgeous patterns out of the broken tiles, and now we have beds which should last for a long time.

What happens if you don’t battle the termites? Well, some of our older huts, which Lamin built himself about 20 years ago, have succumbed. One of the very first Balaba huts used to look like this:

DSCF0268

But the termites began to invade, despite stripping off the old palm leaf roof every two years and putting new leaves on. One evening last year, we heard an enormous crash. When we went to look, the whole roof had caved in, and the walls are in such poor condition now that it’s not worth rebuilding it.

IMG_7188

Of course, nothing is wasted here – Lamin has plans to convert it into a ‘bantaba’ – a place for sitting and chatting. But it’s sad to see it in such a bad state.

Here you can see how the termites have created a honeycomb network by nibbling through the walls of another hut.

 

IMG_6870

We’re gradually replacing our roofs with corrugate sheets, partly to combat the termites but partly to do our bit towards conservation. It may seem that using palm leaves is a better option for the environment, but in reality the level of deforestation in the area is horrifying. I first came in 2008, and Balaba was mostly surrounded by trees and forest, with a few paths winding their way through. Now, almost all the surrounding trees have been felled.

This is partly due to people buying land around us to build new homes – the first thing they do is to chop all the trees down to clear the area. Illegal logging is also a big issue. All the mature mahogany trees in the area have been chopped down, along with many others too. Balaba has become a forest oasis in an increasingly barren landscape.

This does mean we see lots of beautiful birds and other wildlife – we even have a monkey that comes quite often to drink in the pool. But people around here rely on firewood for cooking, and the local fishing industry needs wood for smoking fish. Both these activities will become very difficult in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep our trees surrounding us. We do occasionally thin them out, but apart from that we leave them mostly untouched. And we’ll also keep battling the termites!

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Maintenance: It’s a Constant Battle”

  1. Esseltee June 4, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    I’ve known about termites and their damage, but wow, I’ve never appreciated the honeycombe work that takes place under the surface! What scoundrels!

    • OkeCrafter June 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      It’s amazing to see, and in some ways quite beautiful, but it’s not so much fun when you’re trying to keep buildings maintained!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Heaver's Farm Year 3

Heavers Farm Year Group Blog

Heavers Year 2

Heavers Farm year group blog

nicolasaid

#NoRegrets

La Randonnée

One Englishman's walk from the Channel to the Mediterranean

Peter Singhatey - Just Love Flying...

Peter Singhatey - Wordpress Blog

thedoghairstitchery

Crafting is never complete without some dog hair

Blackwork embroidery designs

Blackwork doesnt have to be black!

Life in The Gambia

All about my adventures in The Gambia.

2014/15 Silver Class

A Reception class at Heavers Farm Primary School

semper aliquid novi africam adferre

books from and about Africa

knitting with heart

. . . luv 'n stitches for our tired old world

Handmade by Hannah

Day to day life, one crafting adventure at a time.

frilka

my craft addiction

Stitching Lotus

Adventures in needlework and other crafts from a cold Canadian momma

Crochet Thread

A Modern Interpretation of Vintage Crochet by Ann Reillet Featuring Many Original Designs

Live in Gambia

Read about living the dream. Our dream house for sale

American Dream in Senegal

African-American mom of 3 moving to Senegal to acheive American Dream.

Sewing Beside the Sea

All things made with my needle and thread

%d bloggers like this: