Journey out to Kambia
17.04.2014 - 18.04.2014 34 °C
We are on our way to Kambia after a comedy of errors! We were assured that there would be plenty of room in the car for all of us to go but I was dubious. What regular passenger vehicle was going to fit six adults, three children and all their luggage? On top of that I just had an awful gut feeling about carrying Joseph on my lap and put my foot down about going in a vehicle that would accommodate his car seat. When the car came to collect us from the hotel I realised how ridiculous the proposition was and gave poor Ish death stares. Afterwards i just laughed because even without the car seat there was just no way we would fit and really why should I be surprised, firstly TIA (this is Africa) and secondly, plans have fallen by the wayside left right and centre so why change now! Perhaps it was divine intervention, it gave us another night with Aliea and Natu to get to know each other better, learn more about the school and brainstorm ideas for future campaigns etc and a spacious four wheel drive all to ourselves the following day!
Money still hasn't been kind to us and after attempting to get money from the bank teller using my Visa card without luck I ended up using the ATM. Unfortunately you can only get out a small amount each transaction and I had to make about six of them. I won't even look at the fees when I get home, I hate to imagine, but we had no alternative as we needed cash. Funnily, Natu told me later the very same ATM refused to give her money as it was empty, we must have cleaned it out!
Our borrowed driver is great because he reminds me of an african version of my dad with his striped polo shirt, baseball cap and petite build. Lucky, as his tendency to drive on the wrong side of the road was unnerving rather than a comforting reminder of home! The drive was wonderful, two and half hours on perfectly sealed road through villages, past rivers and mountains! The villages were quite close together near Freetown and got further apart as we went on. They varied in size and dwelling types. Some were filled with houses made of packed earth, others mud bricks, some entirely thatched with tinge or bamboo scaffolding. In some villages, homes only had one or two rooms while others were much more spacious. It certainly made me feel extravagant wishing we had an extra bedroom for the kids! In the bigger villages and at junctions or bridges, market stalls lined the street selling everything from clothes, passport photos, shoes, mobile recharge to food and drinks! Stalls were mostly pretty simple timber structures with woven or thatched roofs, some looked more permanent than others. There were of course roaming sellers everywhere with their goods on their heads, backs or arms. I took photos along the way but once we had stopped at a couple checkpoints and one lane bridges I could no longer get a good shot through the glass from the little marks by faces pressed up against it to see the interesting assortment of passengers inside!
The house is Kambia is huge and in a large compound which is great for the kids to run around on the one hand but the four flights of big tiled stairs inside and ditches surrounding the house outside make me so nervous on the other. We are staying here with Ish's sisters, aunt, nieces, nephews and some drivers and helpers. The part of me that loves creature comforts really wishes I had been given the heads up that we would need to bring sheets, pillows and an adaptor to use the tantalising yet still fan, and that we really didn't need to be there for another couple days. What are you going to do though. The view from the roof is outstanding and we watched the sun slowly set over the lush green fields and the bridge into Guinea. They better have an Ebola barrier there because truth be told it is far too close for my liking. I think I'm just tired and really missing dad at the moment because although I can still laugh about everything there is a little girl in me that wants to scream about sleeping on a rolled up towel, being here in the heat so unnecessarily early and chasing Joseph up and down stairs every waking minute. The other part, thankfully the bigger part, is grateful that my baby boy is sleeping peacefully, the fan is now working, albeit pitifully, and we got to be here in Sierra Leone for the memorial even after everything that has happened in recent weeks. Somehow it also makes it easier that I'm not the only one frustrated about the situation, having people to vent and laugh with helps, especially when there is no way out and no alternative. It seems like everyone's cursing and shaking their heads behind closed doors! When I wake up it will be Good Friday, I'm not sure how or why it will be significant but I know it will be.
The town is lovely, we are staying in Kambia 1, the older part of town that our Bradt guide describes as higgeldy piggeldy streets as compared to Kambia 2, the newer part with "gentrification" happening. I personally prefer higgeldy piggeldy Kambia 1 with its dirt roads, mud brick houses with thatched roofs interspersed with the old war large torn homes with their concrete columns and decorative balustrades, water stations with safe water coming from taps, children playing, ladies washing, people chatting and animals roaming. The new part of own was just a dusty transport junction with some stalls, shops and rows and rows of beat up taxis and poda podas. perhaps the back streets are gentrified, i didn't check! Kambia 1 is a quiet place where things don't move in the frantic manner of Freetown and I wish we were here on true vacation because I could see myself thoroughly enjoying wandering around the town playing with kids, getting to know the locals and seeing where my mother and father in law met, and built a prosperous life for themselves and their family. Instead we are in some kind of frantic organisation process where nothing seems to actually happen, or does it? I don't know to be honest. With all the insanity around me I'm sometimes glad I don't fully understand what's happening, I can be blissfully unaware of the the family and town politics and focus on chasing Joseph and watching him have a ball with his cousins!