Friday, July 18, 2008

My last weeks in Salone the photo edition

The last two weeks of my two years in Freetown, Sierra Leone were absolutely packed with things I never ever want to forget. I tried to capture some of the highlights and will share them with you below. Thanks to everyone who made my final moments a time that I will cherish forever.

Fourth of July: Including Indoor Masked Badminton, Crazy Charlie, and lots of drinks, food, and friends!

Hike to Charlotte Falls: Includes kids making crazy faces, beautiful scenery, my new photo, and swimming in the rain with umbrellas to keep dry


The International Worship Service: Includes the best picture of Sandra and me ever, me and the ladies, the Incredible Paul and Sara Choi


Farewell to Bjorn: Includes excellent and not at all silly group shots of the gang. Unfortunately omits groundnut stew dinner when everyone's bellies grew three sizes, funny and slightly offensive racial jokes (about our own races of course), and a surprisingly deep game of Angel cards.


Bible Study Party: Included dinner and chatting, friends, an incredible amount of support and love shown and appreciated


Sports Club FC: Includes team photo's, the magnificent pitch, defensive backs watch out for each other on and off the pitch

Going away bash at Alex's Sports Bar: Includes loads of dancing, plenty of friends, a slightly inebriated camera that had a hard time focusing

Last beach trip to River Number 2: Includes lazy Sunday lounging, beautiful beach babes, and paradise


Random Shots of Freetown: Includes the busiest street I've ever tried to bike down, young footballers in Victoria Park, my friend Elaja and the unbeatable Ms. Abigail, the national landmark of Sierra Leone; the cotton tree, and my friends down the street Mohammed and his family

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm back!

I'm home!

Sort of. I'm in my parent's new house, in a city I haven't lived in for nine years, in a country I haven't lived in for two years. But things are still familiar, and if home is indeed where the heart is then I'm more than halfway home.

My journey back was rather unremarkable in everything but length. I think it took something like forty hours to get here. Which is a while, but things went well, so no worries.

I now have the uneviable task of figuring out how to squish everything that I want to get done into the next month. There are lots of people to see and places to go and I want to make sure I do as much with my time here as I can.

Random thoughts: It's less nerve racking to travel over the Atlantic Ocean than it is to ride in the back of a packed poda-poda knowing at some point I will have to climb over everyone to get out; some houses are meant for certain people and my mom found HER house, I am drinking water out of the faucet for the first time in 11 months and it's weird; I'm glad the first thing I ate upon arrival in the States was McDonalds, I feel more like I'm at home for having done so.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I was hit by a taxi yesterday. Not exactly the highlight of my day. I was riding my bike down Siaka Stevens street and dodging in and out of cars. I ducked around this big SUV just as a taxi started to cross the street. I saw what was going to happen a split-second before it happened and through instinct was able to break, slide the bike, and brace myself for impact all at the same moment. It was a glancing blow off the front of the car. I stayed on the bike, was lucky nothing else was moving through the intersection, and answered the lady in the SUV who worriedly asked if I was o.k. before moving off through more heavy traffic.

My reasons for braving the ridiculously crowded streets of downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone include...
1. I've been out of school for two weeks and have spent a large portion of that sitting on my rump. This is the main reason for my waking up everyday last week at 3:30, wide awake, and unable to sleep for several hours. I don't do so well with sitting around for large amounts of time and need to get out and do more.
2. I am working on a children's book. Part of the project includes taking lots of pictures of street scenes in Freetown and I thought that since it wasn't raining torrentially, like it's been doing recently, I ought to take advantage of the day to get some pictures.

While the getting hit by a taxi part wasn't fun, I did have a really good time. Riding around on a bike gave me the chance to see parts of town I've never seen before. It gave me the freedom of movement to get around to different areas quickly but still allowed me to stop and talk to people that riding in a car doesn't really provide. I was also able to get through really crowded area's faster than I could have otherwise done.

Like when I saw a row of poda podas (vans that can seat up to 16 but often hold far more than that, including a cow that my friend saw in the backseat of one once) that was stuck at a junction. They couldn't turn because the other street was also full of poda podas that weren't going anywhere. Being the brilliant rider that I am I thought I would just ride around the traffic, cut the corner to where I saw a wonderfully empty street. There was a puddle of nasty filth water on the corner by the poda poda but I figured I could easily ride through it on my way to freedom. Alas, as my front tire sunk halfway down into the muck the bike froze. Time slowed as I frantically looked for a place to put my foot down in order to keep myself upright. Time didn't slow enough as the only place to put my foot down was more of the nastiest muck I've ever seen. Up to my knee. I had no option but to laugh. I quickly pulled my foot out of the muck, got my bike headed down the road, smiled at the people calling out to me, and laughed. My leg was covered in slime, my shoe was a putrid brown color, and I could just laugh. I'm sure I looked a little funny.

Later I road home and used about a half a bar of soap, everywhere, to make sure I hadn't been contaminated by whatever I'd stepped into. Good times.

Last night was really nice. I went over to my friend Claire's house. We had an excellent vegetable stir fry. Then I hang her hammock in her screened in porch and we just sat, her in the hammock and me in a chair, and for a good while neither of us said anything as we enjoyed the cool night breeze and the sound of the crickets and tree frogs chorused around us. It's really nice to have friends who you can just sit quietly with, comfortable in silence.

That was my day. It was good.

Random thoughts: Dark chocolate has it's moments, 24 hours isn't enough time in the day, one week to go, it's great to reminisce with friends, I need a personal masseuse