Sierra Leone – Rainy season roadworks

The storm last night kept us nice and cool, but of course has meant the ground is extremely spongy and the hole in the road has filled up with water. We were more or less ready to go at 7.30. Then we had another four hours of helping the locals bail out the hole and fill it with logs.

Building the road

Then of course there was the protracted negotiations about who gets to traverse the hole first, and importantly how much we have to pay as a contribution for the village labour and logs that went into the hole. We managed to minimise payment by towing a few of the minibuses out.

Kids checking us out as we ask for directions

Tempers are beginning to fray, as was inevitable. A few of our fellow passengers are beginning to smell quite high and I instituted a ‘wear a shirt’ policy on the truck as the mental thought of all of the sweat from the shirtless guys soaking into the old carpet bus seats was fairly disgusting. There are some territorial disputes evolving over seat choices and the scarce space available for storing possessions……, and it is amusing to watch these play out with British politeness. I am using this as a rare and wonderful opportunity to practice my zen….. as long as I don’t let it bother me then it won’t.

Trucks wedged together
We didn’t get far en route to the border! We passed four schools in Zimmi, where a plague of children emerged to chase the truck, and for the first time, they shouted for ‘money, money, money’. Shortly after we passed the spot where Jason and the truck got stuck for 24 hours last year and they had to hire a crane to dig them out.  We didn’t get much further before we hit another hole with a broken down truck at around noon. We almost made it across but then we got bogged down and almost hit the truck next door. 

Zoe digging us out
Out came the spades and our newly made local friends lent a hand and started digging. Now at 4pm and we are still sitting on the side of the road as our valiant driver and guide and knee deep in mud digging the truck out with the help of a legion of locals. So far today we have driven 10km with another 40km to go to the border. Several locals, including police, have stopped to have a chat and apologise for the state of the roads. No one yet has gotten angry or aggravated that they are not able to get through, although the motor bikes are managing to pass.

The truck who towed us out and then promptly got stuck.
4.30 pm and we got towed out by a guy who promptly got stuck, so we hung around for another half hour to help tow him out, to no avail. His truck is still stuck in the mud at a perilous angle.
So, ten hours after breakfast and about 15-20 km along the road and we made camp in a wee nook on the side of the road. Poor Zoe and Jason are filthy and exhausted, everyone’s hot, smelly, grumpy and tired. We had a lovely dinner of cocktail wieners, frozen veg and couscous and went to bed as the bugs were out. Fingers crossed we get over the border tomorrow and I find some icecream.
Main highway from Freetown to Monrovia

Somewhere near Zimmi,  November 21, 2016

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