Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Road to Freetown

Last Saturday I got up early and headed to the beach with Rachael, Sarah, Fran, Kari, Julie, and Mona. It was a fabulous day from the very beginning. Usually a trip to the beach starts by walking up Bad Boy Lane, flagging down a poda poda or taxi and arguing for 30 minutes about prices. But Friday night Rachael asked one of the local day volunteers who works on the ward to call and arrange transportation for us. Saturday morning there was a poda waiting for us on the other side of the iron gates at the dock - on time and for a reasonable price. After an hour-and-45-minutes bumpy ride through town we arrived at the beach. Amazing waves, warm sunshine, good friends, delicious food (barracuda and cous cous!), and a little shopping made for a great day.

I didn't take many pictures on the beach, but tried to take a bunch on the way back, of the countryside between the beach and Freetown. Here's what I managed to get out the window of the poda poda:

The ride back through Freetown was highly entertaining. People are used to just jumping into a poda whenever they slow down enough, and our driver had to explain to several people that ours was taken. One person hopped in the front seat and the driver quickly told him that he had to leave. The man turned around, saw all us white women, and apologized profusely. Then he looked at Rachael and said "I love you!" Rachael responded "no, you do NOT love me! And I am not having this conversation." The man left and our driver shook his head, telling Rachael "Ah, you have broken his heart." Everyone had a good laugh over that one. At another point in the drive someone on the street saw us and yelled "Eh! Americans!" Rachael tapped our driver's shoulder and said, "Excuse me, just so you know, I am NOT American. I am British! And SHE (pointing to Julie next to her) is Canadian. So you just tell him that next time you see him." Later we looked out and saw someone in a strange costume making his way down the street. He was wearing a mask and had bundles of sticks coming out his sleeves where his hands should have been. We tried to get an explanation from the driver, but weren't really sure what the occasion was. Some kind of festival or holiday we think. When we were almost home, there was a slight disturbance on the street. A taxi had broken down in the middle of the road and stopped traffic. There was a lot of angry yelling out on the street, and it kept getting more and more crowded as people tried to get where they were going. There was a small space open behind the broken-down taxi where we needed to turn, and the driver just went for it. While we were all distracted by the commotion caused by the roadblock, Fran, who was sitting close to the front, screamed. We all looked out the other window and saw 4 bulls charging down the road, headed straight for us! A man running behind them was frantically beating them with a stick, trying to redirect their path. What in the world - there's never a dull moment in Africa. Thankfully the bulls missed us, and we escaped being gorged by their horns. Fran was a little shaken up for the rest of the ride home, understandably.

By the time we successfully made it back to the ship we'd missed dinner, so after washing off the sand and sea water, we headed to the crew galley to make a big pot of mac-n-cheese and laugh about the adventures we'd had together.

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