Friday, June 3, 2011


On my second Saturday, Rebecca, Natalie and I went to No. 2 Beach. It took us a little while to get going. We had to stop by Natalie’s house on the way out of town so that she could grab her things and have a quick shower. While she got ready, Rebecca and I went to look for bananas. Natalie’s house is tucked over looking the bay in a network of mud alleys. We wandered up and down the alleys for a while then an older man asked us what we here looking for. “Bananas.” And he was off! Trotting along path next to flowing water. A left, a right, a left, a right, we zigzagged with the crowded alleys where people worked, children played, and puppies rolled in the dirt. The man stayed well ahead of us and would stop occasionally to look behind to make sure that we follow. He’d beckon us onward with a wave. After a while, he led us to a stall with banana, funnily right behind the office. The man asked us if we could make it back. Though it felt like hubris, we said we could our way and we did.

Desmond drove Natalie’s massive 4x4 all the way to the beach. The beach road is under construction: piles of backed dirt with intermittent patches of pavement. Along the road, the wheel of an SUV flew off as the car came towards us. The wheel bounced into the front of the car as Desmond skidded us to a halt. The back left side of the other car collapsed into the red dirt of the road. What followed was one of those tense, “do we help? do they need to help?...” moments of uncertainty. Desmond checked and determined that they’d be ok. We went off again. A few minutes later Desmond revealed that the woman in the car was his aunt. Later while we were at the beach, Desmond returned to help.

We arrived at No 2 Beach and set up in a beach cabana. It was raining as we arrived. Men came by offering us fresh young coconut and oysters taken from the No 2 River, which runs into the ocean there. The coconut was delicious and the oysters were bright and sweet. We sat and chatted. Occasionally, the rain would let up and we could stroll along the beach and swam. Like in Freetown, the green hills come all the way down to the shore. Unlike Freetown, they are free of any buildings: just green hills, the sea, a river, and the beach. Colorful boats sit on beach. The water is neither cold nor warm, just the right swimming temperature. I only got out when I saw a mangy dog plop down on my shirt that I’d left on the shore and begin to gnaw on it.

We moved on from No 2 Beach to a restaurant on the way back to Freetown called Franco’s. Franco’s is tucked into a little beach with a wide sandbar and a hill overlooking the ocean. The water makes concentric designs in the sand as it slowly evaporates or gets sucked into the ground. The restaurant is attached to a guesthouse that offers scuba diving lessons. Apparently, Franco’s was ransacked a couple of times by rebels during the war. We met other friends from the office and their friends there. The food was wonderful. Fish Capriccio made from grouper, delicious Red Zebra tomatoes in olive oil and spiny lobster sliced open and grilled on coals. We drank beer, chatted, and watched rugby.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I live and work in Aberdeen, which is to the east of Freetown proper. Aberdeen Rd (as it is called my everyone except for the intermittent postal service, which call it Sir Samuel Lewis Rd) leads from the sea to Wilkinson Rd that brings you into Freetown City Centre.

Aberdeen Rd is bumpy, but quite drivable. From the hectic intersection with Wilkinson, it stumbles down and across a bridge. Crossing the bridge, to the right you look out and see the Atlantic and Freetown, and to the left you see a bay and Lumley Beach in the distance. Under the bridge is the very place where Pelican water taxis deposit passengers freshly arrived from Lungi airport. Just today as we drove over the bridge a gang of people were stopped looking over the side. As we passed, we saw the guardrails smashed through. The only plausible idea was that a car had gone off the side of bridge. We didn’t stop to see.

Aberdeen Rd continues over a few more hills coming to one turntable (or roundabout) that is lit with fairy lights and has a strange statue with ancient Egyptian gods in the middle. The second right passes the red and blue wall of the Aberdeen Women’s Centre. The wall is topped with coils of barbed wire. At the bottom of long hill, there is another turntable. The first right takes you up a hill to Cape Sierra, a chuck of land that sits out in the Atlantic Ocean like ball in a pool. The boy’s live is house up on the hill overlooking the sea. The house has a large covered patio with a bar and couches that serves as the real common space for the house. The this wonderful patio the ocean opens up before you framed by similar homes on either side and from beneath by the interlocking scales of zinc roofs covering less grand dwellings. At night during the brutal thunderstorms lightening streaks across the sky over the rolling ocean and single bolts snap into the Atlantic like whips. In one storm, from somewhere, one of these zinc roofs sailed passed ripped off by the violent winds.

Back to the turntable by the sea, the second right takes you down Lumley Beach Rd, which hugs the coast. Along the beach are restaurants many with decks that sit above the sand where you sit and look out over the Atlantic Ocean. You can eat grilled barracuda or snapper with chips. The sand is very white.