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The Poda Poda of Airlines and Hotels

Where to go and where not to go!

I still cant find the words to describe kambia so I'll come back to it at some point (hopefully!) It is our last day in Freetown and we are still at Hotel Barmoi where the staff have kindly offered to let Joseph sleep in the room past check out. Ismail is taking advantage and napping also. I'm lapping up the baby free time by pool with a Savanna Dry wishing I hadn't packed my bathers already. Poor Joseph was unwell yesterday and cried and screamed for a few hours. My heart broke for him,especially as he couldn't tell me what was wrong, I suspect he had a tummy ache and felt nauseous. Thankfully it passed and he was back to himself but it was a difficult day for us both, particularly as Ish was in town until late sorting out passport and working around African time trying to get home! African time would be the hardest thing for me to get used to if we lived here, bucket washes with cold water I can handle, intermittent power is not that big a deal, but people coming hours late drives me bonkers. I hate waiting for people when it's only thirty minutes to an hour, but constant lateness to that extent is so grating!  I guess you just adapt and constantly run late yourself, but then how does anyone ever manage to keep an appointment or get anything done? 

I'm trying not to think about all the things we didn't get to see and instead plot ways of getting back here sooner rather than later. If we can find a way before November, Joseph will still travel free though he will be pretty big for a lap passenger on the forty hour trip! funnily enough, I am more nervous of the sea coach that will take us over to Lungi than the long flight home. That boat still scares me and I'm not sure if it will be better or worse during the day when we can see everything whizz ing by. Last night was very relaxing here, we sat outside and enjoyed the fish buffet and the hotel jazz band (think jazz with a distinct Afro/reggae feel). Joseph was adorable getting up and dancing to the music. In fact he started dancing before the band started playing. As soon as he saw them carrying the guitar and drums downstairs he was bopping away! If anyone is looking for accommodation in Freetown, I cannot recommend Hotel Barmoi and the Jam Lodge more highly. Hotel Barmoi is more upper market, right by the beach not far from Aberdeen and Lumley with all the facilities you could hope for, The Jam Lodge is over in Congo Cross just west of town and more homely and affordable but with intermittent electricity and bathrooms that are perfectly fine but not swish and immaculate like Barmoi! Both have friendly staff, comfortable rooms and superb management/owners. It's always a good sign when the manager will play with your toddler and take them for a walk and a dance! 

Sadly I cannot recommend the Lungi Airport Hotel with its incompetent staff that are unable to provide information about the range of rooms and facilities over the phone, nor take a phone reservation, instead insisting on an email in a place where Internet and electricity are so sporadic. The room we booked turned out to only have a single bed, at $90 and the next room up was $175. Had we been told that seven hours earlier when we asked we would have looked into other options close to the airport. One would hope, for that money,  you would get hot running water, friendly and helpful staff and rooms not full of Mosquitos despite the air con. But no, that would be too much to ask! the room was perfectly fine, the bathroom old and grubby and the previous guests rubbish hadn't been cleared. To their credit, they printed our tickets for us free of charge and had complimentary wifi at about dial up speed. The taxis are also in on the highway robbery charging between 20,000 and 30,000 Leones for the five minute trip (a trip across town in hideous traffic in a charter Taxi is only about 10,000 and in a shared taxi 2,000, and those are foreigner rates, might pay less as a local, not sure!) We paid for the hotel in Leones and it worked out to be an extra 40,000 above the official rate, when I questioned this the girl at the desk informed me they have a fixed rate that does not reflect changes to the actual exchange rate. Of course! They also don't take credit card which surprises me considering they are the main gateway hotel to the country. They tried to tell me that nowhere does, yet Hotel Barmoi manages to accept cards,take telephone reservations, offer service with a smile and provide updated exchange rates for guests. Dr Sheku, I think you need to take over and make visitors' first and last impressions a good one!

Ah, back at Ghana airport after taking the Poda Poda of airlines, Asky! They aren't too bad, just small, cramped and with very average food, but you know what, that is what jet star is like and I'd like to know what their excuse is, they aren't operating in Africa! It was nice not to be rushing to get our bags and checking on to the next flight but it's the goldilocks of transit times, first was too short, this one is too long. We have entertained ourselves by heading down to the arrivals area to change money and order food, done some shopping and had a coffee. Only a couple hours left until boarding, must be beer o'clock! The boat to Lungi was nowhere near as bad in daylight, having reference points made it seem slower, plus it wasn't as choppy with the huge bumps like the first time. Still a long way to go until we arrive home and I'm not sure how any of us are going to cope but at least we have each other and heads full of incredible memories of our whirlwind trip. I will try to piece together the Kambia leg when I get home, because it was certainly something to write home about!

Posted by T.L.C. 02:51

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