Back in Tenerife, I was eager to get started on plans for a new school in Sarenyanga. I asked a Peace Corps guy I ran across in Janjanbureh if he was interested in helping out, since I needed someone in the field. But mainly I wanted to “vet” Abdoulay. Would he be a reliable partner? I asked Lorenzo. He said sure: most people are just looking to leave Gambia for a better life, but Abdoulay would not leave. I asked Eva and Roberto from Madrid and discovered Abdoulay’s story. Eva and Roberto were travelling to Gambia since the ’90s and used Abdoulay as a driver. They were happy with him and surprised him with a webpage for him. In the mid-2000s, the website started getting hits and Abdoulay started getting more Spanish clients until now he’s totally swimming in clients. He maybe gets 50% of all Spanish tourists looking for drivers. So he may not be the self-made businessman I thought he was, but Eva confirmed that while he may not be perfect, there are so many people who will let you down, that getting a person like Abdoulay that you can trust is not easy. I was convinced.

I’d also let 3 weeks pass. I called Abdoulay and said let’s build the school. He said he’s already started, with funds from that annoying Spanish family we’d met in his compound. Darn it! It had all seemed so right! I whined to my family, I whined to Lorenzo. Lorenzo, my personal sage, responded that there’s no shortage of schools to be built.