Madness in Sierra Leone
The first morning, in Freetown at the expat cafe down on Wilberforce street, a British army guy, there on the continuing peace keeping mission, buys me my coffee and warns me:
"Don't go walking around at night. In fact, at sunset, go to the store, get some beer, return to the hotel and sit on the balcony. Its not safe."
Later that day, back in the same cafe I met some Peace Corps volunteers and was invited to join them to the beach. I stay too long and break the golden rule..
I take a moto taxi back to town and my landmark, the cotton tree roundabout, was out of bounds at night for my driver. But he said he'd take me but I'd have to keep an eye out for the police. There are no street lights in Freetown. It was very dark. In my nervousness I could not remember if I had to take the 4th or 5th street. I choose the 5th cos the distance felt right. Groups of young men call out to me....
"Hey white boy"
Holy fuck...sweat ran down my back. I reach the hotel.... run up 1 flight of stairs and bang on the door.
"What did we warn you about being out at night?"
A few days later.... mid afternoon.... a scuffle on the pavement... I stop to look....someone was getting a beating... a guy sees me....
"Mother fucker thief, we're gonna kill him", he calls out.
A big guy in a white shirt and tie enters the scrum... grabs the victim and pulls him to safety. Blood pours from his head.... and Mr. White Shirt with Tie bashes him himself about his bloodied head and tells him to get off home before they come for him again.
Afternoon break for the girls who clean the hotel.... I sit with them to pass the time... they boil me some water and I add a sachet of 3 in 1... their English is good but some times they switch to Creole...they sit on my lap, arms around my shoulders and whisper sweet nothings in my ear.... kiss my cheek and run off.
After a few days, a friend of the hotel girls turns up. She's was a hooker. They'd told her a tourist was in town and she came to see if she could service my needs. She invited her self into my room, stripped down to her bra and knickers and asked for 50Euros. We got take out and ate together in my room, then she scrubbed my back and gave my a hand job in the shower and then we watched TV. An African way to spend the evening. She was happy with me treating her dinner and the cab fare home.
In Kenema... I roomed at the cheapest hostel in my guide book... but it was linked to a bar with loud music... it was hot and humid... sleep wouldn't come... no fan, no breeze coming thru the window... at 2am I go down to join the melee... I order a beer.. warm beer, no one pays me any attention... I down the beer in one return to my room with a fuddled head lay in my sweat, naked under my mozzie net... a couple next door find each other... room rented by the hour. By 4am it's finally quiet.
I travel to Bo. I wanted to visit a diamond mine. The guy at the hotel calls his friend and am picked up within 30mins and I jump on the back of the motorbike.
We stop at a police check point. I'm quizzed. What was my motive? how many times have I been there before? and where was my permit?. Merde. I did not even have my passport; only a copy. The driver risks loosing his fee. He brought tourists here before and no permit was needed. Was it my drivers job to deal with a possible bribe? I am told I need to return to town and get the paperwork done. I'm kinda relieved; that I wouldn't have to go thru with the trip. My driver, disappointed.
West Africa was tough, very tough.... 4 days later I crossed to Liberia and 2 more after that took a flight to Paris.... the African dream was over...