Sunday, January 28, 2013 (Day 18)
Tribe Wanted, John Obey
The Saharan winds have been blowing like crazy today. This morning one of the big palm trees at Tribe Wanted was ripped out of the ground and blown down, and now all of us staying here tonight are being lashed with sand from the nearby beach. This is the velocity of wind you might expect in the Scottish Hebrides; not in coastal Sierra Leone.
It turns out that there is no space for me to stay at the academy and so, for the second time today, I find myself back at Tribe Wanted at John Obey - my home from home in Sierra Leone after Makeni.
"Do you realise that you have got an absolutely enormous spider on your shoulder?" two people ask me in unison, shortly after arriving. Without looking I flick off the unwanted Tarantula-sized spider to the ground, where it becomes the unwitting murder victim of two chickens.
It has not rained for even a second since I first arrived in Sierra Leone and so when I suggest that there is moisture in the air and it might rain, a couple of people chuckle to themselves. Moments later, the skies open and we are lashed with torrential rain as well as sand for a couple of minutes. It feels incredibly refreshing and wild. There is no electricity and every candle is blown out no matter how protected it is from the wind. This storm is tempestuous and menacing. Some of the locals tell me they haven't seen Harmattan winds as severe as this, at this time of the year, since they can remember; some of the crops have even been blighted by locusts blown in from God knows where. You could convince yourself that a nasty hurricane is coming in off the sea. Time for bed, me thinks.
Sunday, January 27, 2013 (Day 18)
River Number Two - John Obey
A wooden fishing boat battles the gusting Harmattan winds and makes it into the narrow estuary. Scraggy dogs bitch and fight as the crew unload the three one-metre long fish they bagged out at sea. It is 7am and well worth getting up early to admire this scene and the stunning landscape in the early morning light. Fortuitously for me I have also got chatting to three lovely 50-something American ladies who are working out here building water wells for rural villages. Not only will they kindly give me a lift to John Obey at noon but they also ask me to join them for breakfast on the beach.
I liked William's tent and camping spot but I can't say I am so crazy about his breakfast: a box of 100 tea bags, two cold water bags, a dozen milk powder sachets and a tub of margarine. I don't know where to start! I do manage to get a couple of bread rolls off him on request but it is the unwanted spicy omelette and a peanut butter energy bar - all donated by the American ladies - that really set me up for the day.
Dragonflies waft on air currents as I enjoy a swim that also doubles up as a shower and morning pee. The beach is all but deserted until ten.
I am sardined into the back of the ladies' Land Cruiser with two 20-kilo suitcases balanced precariously on top of my stomach and shoulders. This is the worst stretch of road I have encountered in all of Sierra Leone and I could very easily throw up all over the ladies' bags. The slash and burn fires are destroying gorgeous sections of forest, while lorries pass full of sand that has been dug from the nearby beaches. If you want to see West Africa's finest beaches then I suggest you visit Sierra Leone soon, before the money men destroy the coastline with their greed.
The ladies drop me at the junction for John Obey. They are on their way up country to Kabala where they hope to be able to put wells into a further three villages. You cannot imagine how much difference a clean water well will make to the living standards and well-being of a small rural African community. Big respect goes out to the three ladies from Ohio.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a two-month voluntary placement in January 2013.