Surprising joys in a big city
11.04.2014 - 12.04.2014 32 °C
I am absolutely loving our time in Freetown which surprises me a little as I wasn't really keen to spend much time in the capital and I'm not generally a fan of the big cities when I travel. I couldn't say what makes this place different, perhaps it is simply the fact it IS so different from anything I have encountered. My mind tries to make comparisons, and there are indeed some similarities to what I have seen before but on the whole it just doesn't compare. I have seen people carrying goods on their heads before but not towering pyramids of plates with coal, not things the size of two bean bags! Today I saw a lady that put me to shame, she was carrying a bub on her back in a lappa (piece of material long enough to make a wrap skirt or wrap to carry a baby in), was obviously pregnant and carried a large dish of food on her head and there I was sweating away with Joseph in the Manduca on my back! I have gotten lots of giggles at the strange device I use to carry him and I will get someone to show me how to use a lappa but for now, the carrier is an absolute blessing on the hilly, barely there footpaths!
One of the biggest surprises has been how much I love the food! I've tried a whole assortment of traditional dishes from groundnut stew to cassava leaves, plantain and fu fu. All of it delicious! It's hard to describe, the dishes are not quite curries but they are spicy and and a similar texture though without any creaminess. Binch was my favourite with black eyed beans, sweet potato and plantain, plassas came in a close second, served with rice, it covers all the leaves and it looks like stewed spinach but tastes a whole lot better. Joseph has enjoyed the food too, some of it he turns his nose up such as the doughy but plain fu fu, other things he laps up, particularly plantain which is a bit like banana but has to be boiled or fried, and anything with a bit of spice!
I have become somewhat obsessed with checking out women's hair and trying to work out whether it is their real hair or a weave, I'm mostly wrong! It is hard not to feel like an ugly duckling here, the women are stunning with flawless complexions, immaculate hair, perfectly pressed clothes and make up that stays on their face instead of streaming down their cheeks! My poor hair is a mess, it is so thin post joseph so now its a limp ball of frizz, perhaps I need a weave! The bright colours and beautiful patterns on fabrics here make me smile constantly, I can't wait to go buy some and get some clothing made. Wish me luck braving the markets, hoping the hotel manager will have time to come along and help me haggle!
We have had some issues with changing money here which I should have anticipated but I was being too tight not wanting to lose money by exchanging into US dollars first then Leones. Unfortunately on the weekend no one wants to touch our money which left us relying on a contact and having to accept a lower rate anyway! Hopefully come Monday we can find a bank willing to deal with the dirty Aussie dollars at a fair rate!
Joseph is still travel super star though it can be hard giving him enough space and freedom to explore. He had a complete melt down yesterdayafter deciding to skip his nap and try to push on through. Thankfully Sierra Leoneans are much more child friendly than Australians (not saying Aussies don't like children but it's rare for someone to hold a door for a person pushing a pram and even rarer for someone to provide practical assistance in a tantrum situation rather than giving that disapproving look and tut tut sound, but I digress). Abdul's driver and helper took us down to Lumley beach so we could walk in the breeze and let little Jojo sleep on my back. Even before that though, people everywhere have played with him, helped us out by holding him or distracting him, letting us go first etc. It is refreshing and makes it glaringly obvious how little Australians think of or accommodate children. There might be great playgrounds, activity centres etc, but it's like they prefer kids to be segregated, not in places frequented by adults such as shops, restaurants, transport.
The plus side of Master Joso's melt down was it took us to Lumley beach, a pristine stretch of sand and turquoise water lined with a couple of bars, a handful of beach chairs and filled with plenty of children playing soccer, dancing and building castles! Apparently on Sundays and on holidays it is jam packed and you can barely move but we had plenty of space to wander around in awe. I had a ball with the children who spotted my camera and started calling out "snap me, snap me"! A group of three soon swelled to a crowd of fifteen children all posing, laughing and talking about the half white/half black baby asleep on my back! The sea breeze, laughter and walk was just what I needed to shake off the frustrations that come with interfering with a toddlers urge to explore and experiment! I can't wait to see more beaches along the peninsula!
Apologies for the lack of fluidity in the blog, I'm grabbing little snippets of time to piece it together when I can. I really want to keep a record though,for myself, for anyone that reads it but most importantly, for Joseph who may not remember this trip down the track!