Thursday, January 13, 2013 (Day 1)
Tribe Wanted, John Obey
Daniela makes the observation that Sierra Leone resembles Cambodia on first impressions. I'd agree with that: the vegetation, heat and apparent levels of poverty are all reminiscent of south-east Asia's most notorious nation. There is also an obvious parallel in the histories of the two nations.
After leaving the rough tough streets of Kissy behind, we eventually make it out of the capital - which is reckoned to have a current population of around 1.5 million - and out into open countryside. The coastline is never far away from us on the left side of the vehicle and green forested mountains are on the right. For the next few days we will stay at Tribe Wanted, an eco-resort located in John Obey on the splendiferous Western Area peninsula. Tribe Wanted started off life as a global online community with its first eco-resort in gorgeous Fiji. If I am not mistaken there was once a television programme aired about it on British TV. The beach is absolutely stunning. We sit outside for lunch and meet more of our colleagues who are working with the Collective in Sierra Leone. After a tour of the facilities, including the compost toilets and the solar house, I sleep the afternoon away in a beach-side hammock tied underneath two coconut trees.
I awaken with a start not knowing where I am. Yes, that is right: Sierra Leone! Thank God for that! As the sun begins to die, it is time for a dip in the ocean. The current seems dangerously strong so Daniela and I decide to cut our swim short, both of us old enough to have experienced an incident or two that have taught us about the dangers of not respecting the sea. The backdrop is truly stunning. Here is a new book title for you: 'Fifty Shades of Green'. That is how many variations on green I would estimate there are in the surrounding rainforest. And the beach is almost orange, which only accentuates this further.
Dinner is couscous, plantain, garlic and onions with papaya for dessert and palm wine as a beverage. It is all completely organic and tastes delicious; aside that is from the wine which puts me in mind of a slightly alcoholic alka-seltzer. The palm wine is refreshing but my stomach isn't totally convinced. The remainder of the evening is spent chatting in candlelight, the sea roaring and the brilliant starry sky as clear as it could possibly be above us with no form of light pollution here but for a little candle wax. I end the day in rather silly circumstances as I let out an embarrassingly loud yelp (heard by all of my new colleagues) as I unzip the entrance to my tent on the beach and discover a humongously large crab hiding under the novel I discarded there earlier.
More Than a Game joined The Collective and the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone for a seven-week voluntary placement in January 2013.