Gap Year: One training for another!

So last week my half marathon training took a bit of a back seat to my training for my project in Mauritania.


Firstly the people, a big shout out to Sean (Rupet), Tori (Victoria) & Cat who not only let me kip in their dorm, but provided much of the weeks entertainment, as did comedy double act Fraiser & John.

Finally, a big cheer for my Mauritania crowd Jen, Emma and Shaun (my partner).

During the week we had chats with our Desk Officer (Ali M) about our projects and countries, lessons on teaching TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language); culminating in a 10 & 20 minute lesson on separate days.

I really enjoyed these, dressing up as a waiter, complete with felt tip mustache (cheers Tori…)
and wearing an anorak…

Every evening I managed to get down to the beach, sometimes before sun set, sometimes after, and the first 2 nights I even went for a swim (so incredibly cold, yet at least 5 out of 35 went in that I know of!)

The last night we had a drinks reception before our ‘posh’ dinner. I managed to be singled out by Nicholas Maclean-Bristol, THE Head of Project, having asked to speak to the Mauritanian lot, and me being the only one in the room. However, at least I got a full one on one chat before making me excuses to get a drink. Next he spoke to a group of girls, followed by Sean, or just managed to introduce himself before the toats were made – unlucky!

The ceilidh that followed was perhaps the sweatiest thing of my life, only beaten by the thickest of mosh pits. However the night was great, the drinks flowed (though not for me, naturally) and, after some fun times on the beach, we got to bed around 3am for our 7.30 start!

Despite the emotional scenes as our numbers dwindled, most of us held our upper lips, as we wished each other a brilliant year, all too painfully aware that it would be at least another year to these friendships were rekindled, if ever at all!

As our number dripped to 5 in Oban, a somber air set in, and was only broken by our trip up to the local castle where we were cornered and trapped by an interactive theatre group which had managed to move to trap us on the hill.

The following morning passed relatively trouble free, until upon arriving at the airport, having checked my luggage in, I discovered my flight was running 50 minutes late.

In the end, my flight got in almost 2 hours after the ETA, but I was just greatful not to be stuck in the air port any more!

Upon reflection, I had the most amazing time ever, and would not change one minute.

From the heart to hearts with one or two people, to the comic timings of John, to Shaun having to send me out of his lessons, my week on Coll has just reaffirmed what a magical place Coll is, and how beautiful things can be.

No matter what happens when I leave in Octobar, no matter what happens in Mauritania, those memories will remain with me and, hopefully, see me through the tougher times.

By J.Molkenthin

James Molkenthin is an enthusiastic and energetic British Designer, with a background in Graphics, Website and Product Design.