To Live in Interesting Times

Be willing to step outside your comfort zone once in a while; take the risks in life that seem worth taking. The ride might not be as predictable if you’d just planted your feet and stayed put, but it will be a heck of a lot more interesting.

Edward Whitacre, Jr.

So many things have happened recently that have made my life very interesting. So this blog is about the “interesting times” that I have experienced and at times endured.

20170211_211938Fullmoon Nights at the Beach

I honestly don’t really know the right words to discuss my last taxi ride. So I will just give you all a description of what happened. I had been out at a big leaving party for a group of advisors who were leaving Sierra Leone, and was leaving around 2am, and had called my regular taxi guy. It’s important to have one of these, to ensure that you get home safely, especially for me as many taxis won’t go down the road my house is on and as such, refuse to drop me the whole way home… and it is also good to have a regular driver to ensure you don’t get ripped off. He called me to tell me he had arrived, I told him I would be 5 minutes. So 5 maybe 10 minutes later a friend of mine – who lives kind of next door to me – went out to get into our taxi. As we walked out of the gate we saw a slightly dishevelled local man wearing a monkey hat shaped looks at us, and then began yelling something out at us, just as we walked out of the gate towards our waiting taxi. I wasn’t entirely sure what he was saying, but this made me hurry more towards my waiting taxi. When we got to the taxi, there were two occupants, our taxi driver and a lady. She quickly moved into the front seat and we got into the back, assuming she was going to get out… nope… Nope, she joined us for the whole journey; first, to drop my friend off, and then, back to my home. My friend and I had no idea what to do… We later realised looking back that the monkey hat man must have been the ladies pimp and was trying to communicate that we shouldn’t go to our taxi just yet… Possibly one of the strangest, most awkward and bizarre experiences to date.

20170209_195033Freetown by Night

On a related note, a friend of mine, after I told her this story, lamented the fact that their most trusted and friendly guard was fired last week because it was discovered that he was pimping from their compound and this surprisingly was viewed very poorly by the manager of the compound…

The newspapers over in Sierra Leone are amazing and my favourite so far was 223 Honest Policemen [were] Found in Sierra Leone! That is not a typo… and probably is a very useful insight into the corruption that is endemic and persistent throughout this country.

img-20170210-wa0000

I was recently provided the opportunity to experience local medical treatment in Freetown (well locally based but not locally owned). As I work within the health sector I am sure it is a good thing to experience what is meant to be the best medical treatment in Sierra Leone. I would have of course preferred that I didn’t personally need the treatment though – it wasn’t that serious a problem, I have just been having some persistent stomach/intestinal problems but I will spare everyone the details. The best moment came towards the start of my appointment, when the nurse who took everyone’s general body details, height, blood pressure, heart rate… and weight, looked at me and went “you’re fat” and then repeated that twice more and then went “what you going to do about it” and repeated that twice, too… For the record, I felt after she weighed me that I had been doing pretty well with losing weight, particularly as I hadn’t been eating that much for the past two weeks and a half due to said issues that took me to see the doctor. I bit my tongue, however there were a few retorts sitting on it. The doctor’s appointment was ok, although I really struggled to understand the doctor who continually mumbled. The doctor ordered blood tests and the same nurse who so viciously verbally attacked me had a second shot, this time physically, whilst taking my blood and leaving me looking slightly like a novice heroin addict due to the large bruise she left in my arm. The whole appointment – the large majority was simply waiting for the doctor and my tests results – took over 3 hours. And then it has, at the time of writing, taken them over a week to get back to me on my other results… sigh. No amount of following up seems to have assisted this problem.20170212_114909Hanging Out at Bureh Beach

I also really need a new fruit seller. Any suggestions would be welcome, but recently I have purchased rotten fruit 3 times. One with a little white maggoty thing inside it. It was pretty gross and I am really hoping it wasn’t from the grapefruit I had eaten.

We now have a cat in our house… The cat has no name, we have no idea where it came from, although it does very much appreciate going through our bins for scraps of food and then leaving the kitchen looking like a rubbish bomb had hit it. I don’t really like dogs or cats in this country, partly it’s because they are fairly feral, and partly it’s my desire of not needing to get the rabies shots… Apparently, a hit has been put out on it to send it to a better place or to at least a new home.

The Sundowners, who are, what are the Sundowners you ask!? They are a local band of British people that plays on a monthly(ish) basis at a local bar called Papaya. The band is comprised of British DFID staff and accompanying partners. They are also pretty damn good, belting out tunes including Valarie by Any Winehouse and Adele hits, songs that are not that easy to sing. It is a fun night in Freetown and definitely worth checking out if you are in Freetown when they are playing.

20170226_172310Kids Marching Down the Road

I have written about the beach before previously, and I feel that if I went every weekend it is highly likely that this blog would simply recount my time at the beach. But going to the beach is an amazing respite from Freetown, which can become claustrophobic. Last weekend I went and stayed at Bureh beach, and slept in a tent under the full moon. It was a great weekend filled with delicious food – crabs and lobster for the most part, lots of exercise and lazing about on the beach. We played a long game of soccer with local kids, who ensured that they gave our shins a beating with some questionable tackles, I also sustained a deep graze to my knee from one of these. This led to some retaliation, involving me standing completely still and having the kids run straight at me thinking I was going to move… I did not and the resulting thud and them bouncing off me into the sand was hilarious for the other children. Although this only encouraged the others to try the same tactics, with the same results. I also at one point decided the best way to get the ball was to simply pick one of the kids up and set him to the side. He thought this was both grossly unfair and side-splittingly funny. Saturday night was beautiful under the full moon with small bonfires burning on the sand.

20170211_213810Dancing Under a Drone and the Fullmoon

People danced around the fires and a lot of fun and a good time was had by all. Aside from one small incident where a drone crash-landed, narrowly missing a group of small children – remember don’t drink and drone – it was an amazing night. On Sunday, I went for two early morning swims and then lay in a hammock and did very little.

20170211_212006Bonfire on the Beach

So here’s to interesting times friends, may there be many more as they certainly make life a lot more stimulating.

20170211_190902Watching the waves roll in

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