|At the Liberia/ Sierra Leone broader|
It was early in the morning when we arrived in Freetown and the city was asleep, the perfect time to sleep and rejuvenate for the day ahead. Given it was a weekend visit; I wanted to make sure I saw all I could before returning to Monrovia (though internally I knew that was not possible). Fortunate for us we did not have to pay for lodging, which is quite expensive.
After a well-prepared breakfast, we left for a tour around the city. Most of the attractions are centralize thus; all you need are very strong legs and water. We 1st visited the government buildings; I did not find the structures appealing, than again the British are not know for their architectural abilities. After which we found our way to the oldest tree in Sierra Leone. According to the story, the tree was there when the Portuguese arrived!! Implying the tree may well be over 500 years old. Next to the tree is the national museum, don’t expect the Smithsonian, but it is cozy and has a lot more artifacts compare to the museum in Liberia. The museum guides were knowledgeable, and interestingly majority of the myths and believes about culture and tribes were very similar to Liberia’s.
You don’t have to pay, but it is expected that you make a donation. The tour is carry out in two phases. The 1st, focus on the traditional believes and the 2nd focus on past, and current history. Be aware, one of the guides might tell you to hand over your donation, though it is clearly stated that all contributions should be place in the donation box. I did not take that well, the museum received its donation, but he did not get the tip we had allocated for him. After the cultural tour, we walked over to the bank, and we had problems getting Leones (money use in Sierra Leone), due to the fact we had dirty US dollars. In Liberia, they don’t care how the money looks, as long as it is money, which is very bad. It is best to send a local to change your money, because if you have dirty money they will not change it in the banks, which I respect. Though at the time it was upsettingJ. We finally got some Leones, and headed out to the market. Things were fairly cheap, so it was fun shopping!!!
Fourah Bay College was founded by Church Missionary Society in 1827, for the purpose of training Africans as schoolmasters, catechists and clergymen. It is one of the oldest universities in Africa, and it was known for producing leaders from all around Africa. Since the war, the university have not been able to revert to its pre-war status. However, classes are back in session and students are going about business as usual. The view from the campus overlooking Freetown is beautiful. I could only imagine what it was like to be a student during its peak years.
|View from the top of the college|
We visited the Aderdeen strip, line up with nightclubs, beaches bars, restaurants, etc. The beach is nicely set up, with vast things to do and places to eat. After acquiring few pieces of art, I wanted a smoothie so we stopped at a pastry shop call Town bakery (their smoothies were not good). Don’t go there!!
The next day we arrived at Aqua country club after previous arrangements were made for a boat rental and guide to Bunce Island. Bunce Island was the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast of West Africa. Founded around 1670, it exported tens of thousands of African captives to the west. Unlike, Goree or Cape Coast, it is still under development, but once it is restore it will be one of Sierra Leone top tourist attractions. Once we arrived at the dock the tour guide and the boat was made available. We used a company, but it was arranged through the owner, therefore I am not quite familiar with the process. However, we paid 200 United States Dollars to charter the boat and get the tour. The ride to the Island was beautiful, it is an opportunity to see the city from a different perspective.
|Welcome to BUNCE|
After 45 minutes of sailing we arrived on the Island. If you been to Goree or Cape coast, do not go with high expectations. As mentioned before the Island is under renovation, and it is not exactly a priority given the post war country has other critical issues to address. Once on the Island it is exclusive yours, and lucky us we had a knowledgeable tour guide. It took us about an hour and half to complete the tour. On our way back we were so tired, but had gain added knowledge. One of my favorite things was the craving name tree, and the rocks I found. It was good we took a car because bringing those rocks on the plane would have been interesting.
Freetown is a city in the shape of a hill. So the further up the hill you get the closer to the peak you get. The closer to the peak you own a property the wealthier you are. We drove as close to the peak as we could go, and had to get out of the car and walked as it was too steep. We were close to the peak, but we did not make it to the top (I had lazy bums with me). I am sure next I will make to the peak!
|I almost made it to the top|
It just happened the weekend we arrived there was an international arts festival taking place, which they have frequently, so lookout for it. It is a great way to find unique items from all over africa.
|What a day.........|
Thanks to my buddy who resides in Freetown, and knows his way around, I was able to club hop and it was an experience to remember. The first club we entered, before I could sit down my iPhone got stolen and I was piss off!! Liberians always say Sierra Leoneans are thieves, it is bad to generalize, but after my experience I am not sure we should stop generalizing. They don’t just have sticky fingers!! They have quick fingers too!! I don’t let bad moments ruin my plans, so we went to the few other clubs. My favorites were office and old school. The music and the crowd were good, and we ended the night with me getting in the car at 6am and driving back to Monrovia. It was a good trip; I wish I had stayed longer.
Sierra Leone seems to be recovering from the war faster than Liberia based on my observations. The infrastructures have improved greatly, as well as job and education attainment. Two different countries, different context, but our shared boarders and experience of war will keep us forever bond. However, why is Sierra Leona progressing faster than Liberia? What can we learn from their speedy recovery?