Spent six hours at a swimming gala in town waiting for my eldest daughter (8) to swim two lengths of breaststroke. The sun was scortching, the place was packed and there wasn't any shade to speak of but being a sunday we all went along, siblings and all and waited and waited. Gradually, during the day small gems of information about the gala itself were released.
1. Many of the races scheduled for the previous day had had to be carried over to sunday because there was a double booking at the aga khan school. The venue had been promised for a wedding and wedding guests were unhappy about tail end swimming gala attendees hanging about so on Saturday the second half of the event was postponed. This meant that races were carried over to the next day.
2. Swimming races scheduled to start at 9am on Sunday did not begin until 12.30pm because no one knew or had been informed that saturday's races had to be finished first.
3. 3,000 children were listed to swim over the weekend. Some races had more than x40 heats.
4. The loos had no water. Imagine!
Things improved a little when we left the area immediately around the pool and lounged under trees on the playing field outside. The welcome shade and breeze made up for the occasional wafts coming from the cess pit. At 3.45pm we found out that our daughter would not be swimming because they had run out of time. What's more we will have to come back on Wednesday morning if we want our kids to swim their heat, then be awarded a 'time' which may or may not qualify them for the league (which in turn translates to more hanging around at swimming galas).
Our middle daughter was sick in the car on the way home - we blamed heatstroke. My friend got stabbed by a poisonous kai apple thorn while kindly taking my 3 year old daughter for a wee in the bushes. But having said all this, I must admit that overall we had quite an enjoyable day. Eeking out meagre supplies of snacks and chatting all day with mates was not too bad and after a few tears we managed to rescue what was left of the day with a quick swim at the club and a plate of chips. Heck, we even made some new friends! The fact that we are happy to wait around for a whole day for something that never happens must mean that we are truely initiated into Africa now. There's no going back.
(My husband remembers Aga Khan galas from when he was a child. He said they were deathly boring even then and he and his mates used to spend the day running about stealing other people's empty glass soda bottles. When they had enough they could cash them in for an ice-cream.)