Sunday, January 13, 2013 (Day 4)
Sierra Leone only gets about 8,000 tourists per year. And only another 28,000 visit Sierra Leone annually as part of its diaspora and/or to visit friends and relatives. I think it is fair to say that this country is a little off the radar of mainstream tourism, which makes it feel even more 'real' as we relax for a couple of days by the most stunning piece of coast in all of West Africa.
Today we are hanging out at an eco-surf resort at a village down the coast called Bureh. This place surpasses John Obey for 'stunning-ness' although it lacks the wonderfully peaceful intimacy of Tribe Wanted.
Many expats come down here at the weekends for the cool breeze, left-hand breaks and mountain-backed coastal landscape. On this occasion a big mob of Welsh engineers descend on the beach bar not long after we arrive, the younger lads, dressed in replica shirts, playing football on the beach with local boys, while the majority forty and fifty-something Welsh lads are all drinking beer, bantering with one another and roaring aloud with laughter. Most of these fellas aren't the kind of people you'd probably want to run into in a bar back home after they have had a few beverages - each bloke must have fifty tattoos on average - but they remain perfectly well behaved during our time at Bureh.
Local villagers flock down the beach giving perspective to the world-class backdrop. On the second Sunday of the year, Sierra Leonians in the south of the country make a pilgrimage to the cemeteries where they remember their departed relatives. I guess Libation Sunday is their equivalent of the November 1 'Day of the Dead' that is celebrated in many countries around the world.
The river feeding the sea is like one of those fast flowing slides you see at expensive water parks across Europe. Locals and the odd westerner jump in and are instantly swept downstream towards the open sea. The ferocity of the current is astounding and I am content to watch everybody having fun rather than risk having a near-death drowning experience. Sure enough, both Ben and Kate end up getting ankles and toes slashed by rocks as they are transported out to the shoreline. Fortunately though it is nothing serious.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a seven-week voluntary placement in January 2013.