I was reading a book recently about a deaf guy who worked for the Peace Corps in Zambia. It was a ripping yarn, but one thing that he said stuck with me. The joke is that Peace Corp-ers who get sent to South America come back politicised and radical, people who get sent to Asia come back holistic and spiritually aware, and people who get sent to Africa come back drunk and laughing.
I can see his point. There is no other way to deal with this place. Sierra Leone is the poorest country on Earth. That is, obviously, not a title to be proud of. With unemployment running at 80%, one of the lowest life expectancies and levels of education in the world, it’s staggering that this little country cannot figure out how to make any money for the people from its vast natural resources – there’s diamonds in dem der hills.
I will come back to this point anon, but for now, I’m happy to spill the beans on what I got up to today. First up, I had a FULL ENGLISH, which was almost as exciting as last night’s roast. Then I headed off to the pub down by the beach to watch the rugby with Helga and Paul. You see, I need a visa to get into Liberia – the next country on my list – and so, I was hoping to be in Freetown Thursday night or Friday morning so that I could get one, but thanks to the taxi in Guinea taking 36 hours instead of 15, I ended up missing the embassy, so I’m stuck in Sierra Leone for the weekend. But, you know, on balance, not a bad place to be stuck.
Helga is from the south of England and works for the UN on youth development, and Paul is a Sydney-sider who currently works in the security sector, but is about to give it up (too many phone calls in the middle of the night) for his old job – cocoa quality control. In short, Paul is the man from DelMonte. How cool is that?!
I not a big rugby fan and spent most of the afternoon on my laptop writing to [mmmmm] about why [mmmmm] should not be [mmmmm] to [mmmmm]. It was an important e-mail, and well worth wasting my entire afternoon writing. I would have got some nice shots of kids playing football on the beach, but this e-mail was something that had to be immediately addressed; it couldn’t possibly wait until January or nothing. NO!
Met with Helga and Paul’s mates, and proceeded to get utterly, utterly legless. Drinks kept magically appearing in front of me, and I, being a meek and mortal man, had no choice but to ride with the devil all the way to drunkton. Drinking all day and not pausing between pints will do that to a ginge. I headed off to a house party with Helga, at which I ate lasagne (I think) but I missed out on the chocolate cake (I think). Then I headed to a nightclub called Aces, at which more of this magic beer appeared. I tried to fight it, but I lost – worse than the time Billy Faulkner bet he could beat a pack of hungry lions in a game of British Bulldog.
I chatted with a lovely girl (YES EVERYONE IS LOVELY TODAY, SHUT UP) who worked with chimps. She was really, really interested in my extensive knowledge of chimps – that they contain 99.4% the same DNA as humans and they, like humans cannot make their own vitamin C. Well, I think she was interested. To be honest with you, I can’t remember if she was a girl or a boy. She could have been a pot plant for all I know? She may not have even existed – I had lost the power of sight by this point. The next thing I knew, I woke up and it was Sunday. Hoorah for the Beer Vortex!!