One of the exciting things about being in Africa is the adventures that you just find yourself on, whether you’re trying to have one or not.
Today we decided we’d spent the day at River 2, a beach south of Freetown. Driving by Landrover or Poda-poda (the local transport- a van which seats 18 people) would take between 1 ½ hrs and 3hrs depending on traffic and the time of day. Today we decided to take a new approach. My friend Jeff is amazing at negotiating and loves an adventure. He had talked with a man from Lakka beach with a boat (similar to the one pictured- except with an outboard motor) and had organised with him to take a group of us on his boat to River 2 leaving at 9am from berth one at the deep water quay. So at about 9am the group of eight of us left the ship, walking down to berth one on the dock and waited for the water taxi to arrive. About an hour later, Jeff called this man asking where he was. “I’m coming, I’m coming! I’ll be 10mins.” Another 30mins later, we were wondering if he was actually coming at all. We waited and waited some more and after another couple of phone calls and another 30mins, he arrived.
Finally we were on our way, motoring through the ocean with views of Freetown speeding past us. After an hour on the water we had to stop at a local fishing village from more fuel and for a new plug for the engine. While we were waiting there in the boat, African kids and people from the village watching us, a lady came towards the boat. She waded waist high into the water carrying an albino baby. Just before she got to me, my friend Christoph said to me, “Don’t take the baby.” As she waded in the sea, right next to me, she lifted up the baby for me to take. I didn’t know what she wanted me to do. Was she actually giving me this child? I sat there with my hands in my lap even though I wanted to stretch them out and take that baby. I said, “I’m sorry I can’t take your baby. She is beautiful though. She is beautiful.” And at that the mama turned back to the shore and made her way back. I’m not sure what the Sierra Leoneons think of the Albino people here, but I truly hope that that young mama didn’t truly want to give her white baby to me because I was white also.
We arrived at River 2 beach after cruising the ocean for 2 hours. We could see beautiful white sand, clean, blue water, palm trees lining the ocean front and mountains in the background. The sun shone happily and after they anchored the boat, we all exited somewhat wet after a wave crashed over us, but excitedly. There was already a large group of Mercy shippers on the beach who had come by Landrover or poda-poda. I caught up with a few of my fellow gatewayers and we walked along the beautiful sandy shore. Unlike other beaches I’d been to in Sierra Leone and Africa, this one was so clean and the sand so white! We walked for at least 2km to the end of the stretch and then back again. The beach also had quite good waves that, much to my delight, we were able to body surf! I did have a few moments of missing my beaches from home and those that would have been swimming with me if I had been there.
We left River 2 late in the afternoon, cruising back to the ship the sun was setting behind us, the water blue and silky. We passed a fishing boat, waving to the men working hard for their families, noticing the birds diving over the ocean close behind them trying to get their supper. I love so many things about this country. I think today was perhaps one of my favourite so far!