We (Beate, Corinna, Iain and myself) arrived in to Lunghi airport this morning at 5.15am – on schedule. The flight over went well. We each managed a couple of hours sleep. The airport experience wasn’t quite as hectic as last year – possibly owing to the early hour of the arrival and the fact that the airport authorities have now appointed official porters to assist people arriving with organising their luggage and making arrangements for the forward transit to Freetown. Lunghi airport is situated on a peninsula that juts out to create a headland opposite Freetown. Travel over to Freetown is by speed-boat. We were taken by minibus to the quay where the speedboats leave. As we waited we watched the sunrise over the beach to illuminate Freetown across the bay. We were scheduled to go on the 2nd speedboat crossing (once it had returned from the first crossing). Local kids kept us entertained as we waited. When it eventually came around, the speedboat crossing was good fun. It lasted 30 mins in total and would have provided an opportunity to run some fresh sea air through the hair – if I had any! Beate and Iain drew the short-straw of sitting at the side of the boat – there were some rather wet moments as the sea-water washed over the side of the boat.
When we arrived at the boat terminal at Aberdeen Bridge we were met by the familiar face of David Fortune who has organised the Freetown workshop. It had been a year since I last caught up with David so it was great to give my friend a hug. We then took the 30 min drive through Freetown to the Kingtom area of the city where we are guests of Father Peter Konteh. We caught up with Peter over a much needed breakfast. Hannah Bockarie (an accomplished therapist from SL who works for Don Bosco) joined us. I last caught up with Hannah at an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy conference in Washington. It was fantastic to see Hannah again. She is an important member of the team, a wonderful person and a real inspiration. The time by this stage had crept on to 9.00am. It was clear that tiredness was starting to kick in and heads were visibly dropping at the table – even despite Peter’s excellent banter. So, we took our leave and rested for an hour or so.
The accommodation is good by Leonian standards and the welcome has been warm and kind. Electricity drifts in and out and there is no running water. But that is sub-Saharan Africa for you. Before heading out to have a day of rest and relaxation we were visited by a guy who exchanged money for us. For £100 sterling I got 650,000 Leones. As you can imagine, that is a whole lot of notes to worry about placing somewhere.
The weather is warm and sunny so the beach was the obvious target for today’s activity. We loaded into the 4×4 (which is an absolute must for negotiating the roads in SL) and started the journey to River Number 2 beach. The journey however was nearly over before it began…. We needed diesel for the trip, but after trying 3 separate petrol stations we were told that there was none available. Fortunately it was 4th time lucky on this occasion.
The journey to the beach was 90 mins of being rattled about on dusty, bumpy roads. But the beach that awaited was well worth the effort! Absolutely beautiful. We stayed there for the afternoon, swimming, chatting, snoozing, and eating freshly cooked barracuda and cous cous. It was a busy day on the beach with lots of families making the most of the good weather. A good time was had by all. The trip back was equally bumpy!
So, now we are now chilling out before dinner. We will then look over the plan for the next couple of days. It will be a quiet night with an early bedtime very much on the cards. The first workshop starts tomorrow morning!!