We arrived in Sierra Leone last night at Lungi Internatoinal Airport and were overjoyed that all five bags arrived with us. A bag for Ashley and I, two 50 lb. bags of shoes, and a 50 lb. bag of clothes, solar lights, medicine, and an essential 3 lb. can of peanut butter. Per usual, a 20ish year old kid asked about the contents of our bags at immigration.
“What do you have in the bags, Sir?”
“Shoes and clothes,” I replied.
“Shoes and clothes.”
I started to open the bags to show him, but he slowly waived me off and motioned for me to move along. For all he knew, my bags could have been bulging at the seams with cocaine, AK-47s, or a small child. The bags weren’t checked at San Francisco International either, so I wonder where all this ‘ramping up of security’ I hear about on the news is happening. I surveyed the range of innocent to shifty eyes elbowing their way to the baggage belt, my imagination considering the contents of each bag.
We met a woman on the plane who was part of a missionary team from Minnesota. This lady had never seen the ocean and had never been out of the country until this trip. Nothing like baptism by fire, so to speak, with her first trip being to SL. I hope she is faring well today.
A 7 hour layover in London saw us taking the tube to Covent Gardens, lunch with Ashley’s mom who was working in London for a few days, fluffy pancackes and napkins folded perfectly. Groups of women leaning toward each other and chatting about a ‘handsome bloke,’ a ‘stunning purse,’ and the warm day they were to have in the park. Strange to several hours later be watching an old lady wearing one flip flop beg for coins at Lungi Airport.
Ashley and I exited the airport, swarmed by hawkers and taxi drivers. Ashley purchased tickets for the 40-minute boat ride from Lungi to Freetown and we were soon bouncing our way along in a van to the docks. The boat ride from was dips and rises with the water, a scratchy TV planning the same two music videos over and over: guys crouching on Lumley Beach outside Freetown, flashing shiny watches and dark sunglasses, dancing with buxom ladies. Ashley and I had gone running on that same beach numerous times last summer and counted dead dogs and hypodermic needles with each step. How nice things look on television.
Time sped up and everything seemed a blur: being picked up at the dock by two Americans from Oregon who are kindly offering their home for us, warm wind pouring over us, streams of smoke and dozens of men chatting on the sides of the road, a cold shower, and a dreamless sleep for 11 hours.