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.