This was perhaps the day when I felt like I became assimilated to Sierra Leonean life. By that I mean that I no longer feel like I am simply here working or on holiday…or a combination of the two. No, today I feel like I also live here. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so hot at night as it did (although it is still usually 30 degrees) and having crain Crain for dinner and a ‘rubber parrot’ on my way home just seem…’normal’. It will seem strange not to ‘tok’ to groups of friendly, smiling ‘pekin’ several dozen times per day when I get back to Europe; or not to buy a bag of groundnuts from the roadside and look up to see vultures hovering in the distance. Ar wan two fingerless pleez, I requested earlier today – that was my attempt at asking for two A3 batteries in Krio.
I coached the kids of Junior FC and Sawulia FC today. At one point I was trying to communicate with 40 kids in a dust-ball and had motorbike taxis riding around the pitch at the same time as they were holding a school sports’ day fifty metres away. One of the motorbikes could have done the goalkeeper a serious injury as he rode right through the goal posts.
On our way back from the coaching sessions on the edge of Makeni, Moses took us on a short cut through the gardens of a residential area, where two topless women in the space of a couple of minutes greeted me with: “Oporto!” and smiled as if spotting a white bloke strolling through your yard when you are topless is a perfectly normal and regular occurrence.
Part of me has been homesick from the very moment I flew out here but, as I now begin to feel like this is my ‘temporary home’ and at the same time recognise my time here is drawing to a close, I suddenly get a slight pang of sadness at the thought of leaving.
Time for a quick bucket shower and to rinse half of a football pitch off my arms, face and legs…