Monday, September 14, 2009

A few observations

Now that I have been in Sierra Leone a few days, here are a few things I have learned so far:

- The pace of life moves more slowly here. Despite spending vast quantities of time waiting for people or things in the first few days, I haven’t found myself feeling impatient. Perhaps that’s because I have no sense of all the things that I could otherwise be spending my time on, as I would in Canada. It’s really very nice not to feel impatient, and I’m hoping that Sierra Leone teaches me this virtue well enough for me to practice it when I'm back in Canada.

- The car horn is used differently here. The driving in general is a bit erratic and crazy, and there are usually people and/or animals and/or objects on the road at all times. (I definitely have no plans to drive here by myself at all!) So the horn is just used to say “look out, coming through”. Seems like a wise move to me, given the context.

- You see a huge variety of things for sale that people carry balanced on their heads. I saw people in Freetown and Makeni selling everything from socks and underwear, to bread and fruit, to gum, to DVDs, to firewood, all balanced on their heads. Children learn to balance things on their heads from a very young age. It’s actually quite impressive – I know my balance is nowhere near that good!

- In the rainy season (which it is now), you will get wet. Guaranteed. It seems to rain about 3-4 times a day with dry breaks in between, but sometimes it just rains for several hours, alternating between drizzle and downpour. You can’t always tell when it’s going to start pouring though, so there’s always a good chance of getting wet, which I have done several times already. Only once so far have I been absolutely soaked to the bone though. Unfortunately, it was on the way to meet with Peter Koroma, chair of the cdpeace board, in Freetown. Luckily, he was about a half hour late (see, waiting can be a good thing!), so it gave me a chance to dry off first.

- Bathing out of a bucket and drinking water out of a bag are not as hard as they sound and I am getting the hang of these things. You just have to stand the bag up right after it is open so it doesn’t spill all over (yes, I learned that lesson the hard way!).

- Villages are not quiet places. I had this idea in my head that the rural setting would be quieter than Freetown, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. You can always hear people shouting, talking, children laughing or crying, birds and insects chirping/buzzing. The sounds of the village have their own interest and beauty, and they’re generally more natural than the sounds of a city, but it is definitely not super quiet.

- Also, people get up early. The town crier wakes everyone at a certain time, usually around 5:30 or 6:00 am. It’s not really a place for sleeping in, but that suits me very well.

- Mosquito nets are wonderful things. Sleeping under a mosquito net gives me a safe, cozy feeling, and protects me from any crazy bugs that might be out there in addition to mosquitos. Given I have seen both a cockroach and a spider the size of my hand in my room, mosquito nets are my friend :-)


Chris said...

Please be sure to rid the guesthouse of ALL hand sized spiders before my arrival. :-)

Anonymous said...

town crier! that is fantastic!
Keep it up Clare - I love reading your blog and its nice to hear that you are having a positive experience so far
- Annie