It seems like multiple times throughout a week something will happen that I plan on blogging about later...and then by the time I sit down and start writing, I've completely forgotten what it was I wanted to write about. So, I've thought back over the past week, and jotted down some of the little highlights to share. Here are a couple of them:
Friday's excitement involved some of my coworkers running into Eva Mendes out on the streets of Freetown. Talk about random - this is NOT the place you expect to meet celebrities. For the full story, check out Ali's blog.
This past weekend was a "ship holiday," which means the people who work Monday-to-Friday, 9-5 jobs got a 3-day weekend. No surgeries on Friday, and most of the crew went off-ship and took mini-vacations at the beach, chimpanzee sanctuary, traveled up-country, hiked mountains, etc. On Saturday I joined a group of 9 people heading out to Burreh Beach for the day. I always have mixed feelings about going to the beach. After living on a ship and not getting outside much, it's glorious to spend some time outside, breathe some FRESH AIR (it usually smells like garbage or sewage out on the dock), and soak in some sunshine. However, it's always a bit of a stressful ordeal actually GETTING to the beach, and the bigger the group, the harder it is. Sarah and I got some phone numbers of taxi drivers and she called to find someone who would be willing to come pick us up, drive us to the beach, and then bring us back to the ship at the end of the day. After calling a few numbers we thought someone might show up the next morning...but we weren't really sure. Language barriers always make things interesting. Oh well, we could always just walk up the road and flag one down. Saturday morning the nine of us gathered together, swimsuits on and backpacks full of snacks and books. As soon as we walked through the metal gate and left the dock area, a taxi driver ran up and informed us that he was the driver we'd called earlier. However, he only had one taxi, and we needed 2 for our group. He had also changed the price we had agreed on over the phone, and decided we were going to a different beach, one closer to town. Over the next frustrating half hour we haggled back and forth, eventually coming to a price everybody agreed upon and getting a second taxi. I squeezed into the back seat of one with 3 other girls and our backpacks, and we started the hour-long drive through Freetown and out into the countryside. We were enjoying the pretty scenery out in the country when our driver suddenly said "do you recognize this area? Are we going the right way?" Jess responded, "we don't know - YOU'RE the driver!" Apparently he didn't actually know how to get to the beach we were going to - a fact he failed to mention earlier. So he pulled over, asked directions, and we eventually made it to Burreh. Once we actually arrived, it was a lovely day. We met up with some other nurses and day volunteers who were already there, and spent a few hours swimming in clean, emerald water and lying in the sun. Toward the end of the day I was having a second swim when dark clouds rolled in over the mountains, the water got choppy, and the rain started to pour. The rain was cold, making the sea water feel really warm. There's something unique about swimming in the rain off the coast of West Africa. We tried to wait for the rain to stop before leaving, but it showed no sign of letting up and it was time for us to go. So we gathered our now-sopping belongings, hiked up the path through the downpour to where the taxis were waiting, and squished back in. The windows immediately fogged up, but that didn't stop the driver from zooming back out onto the road. We asked "um, can you see alright?" To which he responded curtly "I can see." We looked at each other nervously, prayed, and hoped for the best. After awhile the windows cleared up, the rain stopped, and we all made it back to the ship in one piece.