On Sunday I finally dared to take a poda-poda out to a beach I have been told is very popular with foreign workers in Freetown, Lakka Beach. It was only after the encouragement of the Italian nurses at Emergency as well as their assurances that they would be at the beach on Sunday that I was ready to go on what seemed an adventure to me.
I know that it must seem pretty silly that after getting myself all the way to this little-known country in Africa to volunteer for the better part of a year and living here very independently for the past five months, that I would be intimidated about taking what amounts to a forty-five minute bus ride to a beach. I think the explanation lies in my approach to living here, which has been to create a comfortable home for myself and a regular routine of going to work and coming home, and taking very small forays into exploring my surroundings, each of which I took with considerable trepidation. Take for example the first time I took a taxi downtown by myself. It actually took me nearly two hours to wave down a driver who would agree to take me to the main post office. I did not have my hand out for that long, but after the first two refusals, I stepped back and watched for long periods before trying again, repeating the process after each refusal. In similar fashion I have made my way to the Big Market in town and tried bargaining, a skill I am developing, but very, very slowly.
The beach is lovely and quiet, all that was promised me. I spent the afternoon swimming and eating barracuda and chatting with people from Canada, Spain and Italy, all in Sierra Leone doing development work of one kind or another. This is really only the second time I have had such contact, and I am hoping that the nurses at Emergency who were there will help me make the connection to the World Food Programme to see about extending the free lunch in Goderich should the school director and I find a way to keep the 200 current students in school next year.