It is already February. Three weeks today I will be homeward bound. Strange question perhaps but have you ever considered how much water you use when you flush a toilet? I have: a lot. This is because every time I need to flush the toilet I must find a large bucket of water, carry it into the toilet, remove the top of the cistern, lift the bucket and pour it into the toilet unit until it is almost full. One flush and all of that water is gone. This process involves a truly stupid amount of water: litres and litres of the stuff every single time you flush the loo. It is another of those daily details we rarely need to concern ourselves with; to ever think about in the West.
Famarta sorts us out with a delicious omelette. She was up early lighting the charcoal fire and had it on the table for 7.15. With no running water washing the dishes and keeping the food bug-free is a full-time job. After applying a couple of squeezes of hand sanitizer to my fingers I fish the omelette into a baguette with a knife and spread in some peanut butter for good measure. Then I pour out a mug full of water from our thermos flask and sit out on the veranda watching Makeni wake up. It is pleasantly cool from around 5 or 6 until about 8.30. It is a real pleasure observing everybody in the streets and houses around us collecting water from wells; preparing breakfast; burning washing fires; getting ready for school, as smoke arches up into the pale sky and that strange, pleasantly sweet Sierra Leonean smell pervades the air. Kate and Charlotte are off to Freetown today for a break, leaving me home alone for the weekend. This causes me to suddenly be taken by the idea of taking today off and doing absolutely nothing else aside from lazing around all day. No, best get myself to the office. I could use today to get a load more of my blogs posted.
I watched the film ‘Contraband’ last night on my computer, much of it set in Panama. Strolling to work the high-five count from local kids reaches double figures and I reckon I am up to about twenty ‘Oporto, Oporto!’ by the time I reach Restless. I mention Panama because one thing that occurred to me last night was just how ‘soft’ most of Sierra Leone is in comparison to Central America. There aren’t the guns and knives on the streets here; towns are not controlled by drug cartels; no-go-zones are few and far between in comparison and, where they do exist, are completely different in nature and not actually ‘no-go-areas’ at all. Of course this is 2013, not 1991-2002 when unthinkable atrocities took place on a daily basis across this land. It just shows though how far Sierra Leone has travelled in certain senses. Yes, the country remains near the bottom of the UN Human Development index but just the fact that you can genuinely say ‘I feel really safe in Sierra Leone’ is a massive plus. I feel considerably safer walking the streets here than I could ever do in many parts of Central America.