So much to write about, so many things seem to happen in such a short space of time here.
Simon and I arrived in Freetown on Friday evening – Jon and Murray are already here and have started work.
We had a great flight with Astraeus. Sat next to a wonderful old Salonian lady called Evelyn who was returning to Freetown to visit friends. Her husband had been the editor and general manager of the Daily Mail in Freetown (“It was the best newspaper in West Africa,” said Evelyn, “Ask anyone in Freetown, they will tell you.”, but the couple had to flee in, I think, the 1960s when the then president Siaka Stevens put pressure on Evelyn’s husband to make the paper tow the party line and bolster his corrupt regime.
There were tears in Evelyn’s eyes when she told us how her country had declined. “Sierra Leone was sooooooo beautiful. It was the finest country in Africa. And we were more English than the English themselves. Now I can’t believe what has happened.”
We landed on time at Lunghi (Freetown’s airport is on an inaccessible peninsula some distance from the city itself), and were whisked through immigration and baggage collection thanks to a few phone calls from our Freetown friend and fixer, Mr Franklyn Koroma. Franklyn knows everyone. We were treated like visiting dignitaries and saved the mad whirlwind of porters and helpers, someone bought our helicopter tickets for us, we greased a few palms and after the excitement of the helicopter transfer we were eating barbecued groupa fish with Jon, Barmmy Boy and Franklyn outside Family Kingdom on Lumley beach.
Bish bosh, West Africa.
We met Murray back at our hotel. He’d spent the past 24 hours recovering from (probably) sunstroke and was still feeling pretty weak.
Pleased to say he’s fully better now.