I’m still alive! Sorry all for the delayed blog, life can get busy at times… And by busy, I mean I took a week off work as I had a lovely and amazing friend come visit me!
Hanging Out Drinking Ice Tea at Balmaya
Before I get to our trip, I just want to say a massive thank you to my friend for coming to visit. It was amazing to be able to have someone to show off Sierra Leone to. especially where that place is just so different to anywhere else in the world. Also, Sierra Leone is rarely people’s number one holiday trip destination of choice. It is not cheap to fly to, getting a visa is comparatively expensive and not necessarily the easiest experience (although this varies massively depending on where you are flying from, Australians for instance, have to have rabies vaccinations, cholera vaccination and yellow fever, Europeans only have to have the yellow fever). Finally, its recent history puts people off, it still bears the scars of a decade-long civil war and recently was one of the West African countries to be heavily affected by Ebola. But if you do want an off the beaten track, adventurous holiday, Sierra Leone has a lot to offer and these small factors shouldn’t put you off. Plus, you can combine this with some great beach time both in luxury or at the opposite end in tents or a little shack on the beach.
Sunsetting over The Place
That was a slightly roundabout way of thanking my friend however, for visiting. She dealt with all the challenges (and there are a lot) of Sierra Leone in an amazing way. I think her only real complaint was how much plastic is used. Oh I also have to add that she also brought me so many goodies! Literally, she brought a separate suitcase for things that I asked her to bring including a kindle, a foam roller for my back, French cheese and everything else in between (including some amazing German sausage mmmmm it was delicious)!
Finding Peace at Cockle Point
But back to our holiday! Having her here provided me with the perfect excuse to take a week off work, to show this lovely lady the best parts of Sierra Leone! Thus, we headed out of Freetown for a whole week, the majority of which was spent at the beach. It was truly great and we did exceptionally little.
Two Superheros at Bureh
Our week started at Bureh where we stayed for two nights. Bureh as always was very nice and cheap, if a little rough, especially as the second night I was bitten 22 times… I have no idea what bit me. I had a mosquito net over me, but having been bitten that many times we made the decision to head onto The Place for a single night of luxury. The Place was not quite as luxurious as I remembered – possibly because it was having some electricity issues. Yet it was lovely and still very luxurious, and more importantly gave me respite from nasty little bugs biting me and from the heat. But we only stayed for a night. As nice as the place is, it isn’t really what Sierra Leone is in my opinion. It is a place to escape from Sierra Leone.
Bureh Beach Hammocks
So the next day we headed off before it got too hot. We weren’t going far though and after a short 40-minute walk along the beach, we found ourselves across the river from Cockle Point, where we proceeded like intrepid adventurers of old to ford.
Thankfully we arrived at low tide so the river for the most part only came up to our knees, although a miss step led to us getting our bums wet as well. But our bags stayed dry above the water line.
River Crossing at Cockle Point
Cockle Point is probably my favourite place in Sierra Leone. The food is simply amazing and so cheap! My favourite was the lobster Thai red curry and the cashew chicken, the thought of these dishes still makes my mouth water. The breakfast is also great, their pancakes with syrup and bananas is scrumptious!
Cockle Point Sunrise
One of the funniest moments of the week occurred the day after we arrived at Cockle Point when we tried to cross the same river as we had the day before but at high tide and not low tide. Carrying a small bag with money, my new kindle and a few other items we started out and got about a third of the way… at this point, we realised we had made a big mistake. The water was about to go above our heads and the river was flowing hard, not hard enough that we couldn’t swim if we had our hands, but with a bag above my head to keep it dry, it would have been a huge feat and one that I didn’t think was likely to occur. Thankfully we were not past the point of no return and we quickly went back. Once we got back, we ditched the bag (which thankfully did not get wet…) and set off again. This time though with the money on my head, under my hat! With much swimming whilst making sure my head/hat/money didn’t go under water, we made it to the other side against the flow of the water. In the end, it was all for naught though as we had to try and make a second river crossing to get to River Number 2 where we were hoping to stop for a cold beer. We got a third of the way again trying to cross the second river, but then realised for the second time of the day that it was probably going to end very poorly if we continued. So we decided (stubbornly as we refused to take the boat which we easily could have) that we would go without a cold beer and trundled/swam back to Cockle Point and had a lukewarm beer instead… mmmm yummy. Honestly, though it was definitely made up for by the phenomenal food! I can’t rave about it enough. If anyone of you reading this ever come to Sierra Leone, you must go to Cockle Point. It is paradise, and the food is delicious.
Sierra Leone Sunset
The last part to our week off was spent travelling to a village near Makeni. We went up there for the weekend with a colleague of mine who is from there. Slightly (very!) terrifying trip travelling at 100 miles an hour with not enough seat belts. When we got there, we headed to a school sports event (of which my colleague was the patron) which was very fun to watch. Albeit it resulted in a long and dusty day. Still it was amazing see the kids do the events, especially the high jump, which had no mat involved and none of the kids were waring any shoes in the blazing heat and sun! That night we stayed in my colleague’s house and had a very late dinner.
Girls High Jump
Boys High Jump
Pop The Ballon Race
The following day was a bit of a trial. Unfortunately, my colleague got called away a few too many times on multiple trips of business meetings, resulting in us staying at the house all day, waiting for him as he told us not to go anywhere and he would take us around when he got back from the next trip. Next time I think I’ll organise our activities the day before as I would have loved to explore Makeni. But instead we waited and waited around the house and eventually left the village on his return at 5:30pm… And then we had a terrifying return to Freetown again driving 100 miles an hour… But we made it back safe and sound thankfully!
And that was the end of our small trip. We had a few more lovely days in Freetown, before my friend left. And just like that my friend was gone. It was amazing to have her here, and then very sad to see her go.
Also, I have the best taxi driver ever. He drove the whole way to my house to give my friend’s phone back to her after it fell out of her pocket in his taxi when she was exploring Freetown! Seriously, lovely dude. Although I am slightly torn now about giving his phone number out as he is so reliable, not sure I want everyone to have his number! I know, I know very selfish of me… But if you ever need an exceptionally reliable, trustworthy and lovely taxi driver, let me know.
River Number 2 Beach