We had a restful night roadside and were up and eating bush porridge by 7. My tentmate and I are now masters at packing up and breaking down our tent – 15 minutes in total.
We headed off, 30km to go to the border. The sat nav said 35 minutes. The two first trucks we passed said it had taken them three days. I hoped it was closer to the former than the latter. We made painstaking but steady progress for 3 hours, with Jason and Zoe making frequent sorties from the truck to figure out the best line through the deep mud. In three hours we went 8 km, I could have walked, I would have been faster 🙂
Jason has a colourful turn of phrase and treats Amineh (the truck) like a lover. With Zoe in the drivers seat this morning, Jason makes frequent exhortations to ‘give her some beans….’ combined with making semi erotic hand signals to guide Zoe through the wet muddy patches. My admiration for their tenacity and skill continues to grow. I guess they have no choice, we really have nowhere to go but forward as apparently the truck from yesterday will be blocking the way back to Kenema for the foreseeable future. I am beginning to see the appeal in the security of being on board the truck. While it might not be as swift or light as bush taxis or motorbikes, we have enough food and water to survive the road for a week or more if we get stuck.
A few of the passengers are trying to predict when we will arrive at the border…… an entirely fruitless occupation. We are in West Africa! It is what it is and we will get there when we get there. This trip is doing a remarkable job of helping me practice my serenity…… everything here is out of my control so I have no choice but to roll with it.
By 3pm we had finally made it to the Liberian border….., pretty good timing given the state of the roads and what Jason was expecting this morning. And it only took two hours to navigate the borders – pretty quick in Africa, and joyously, Zoe our guide deals with all the officials so the rest of us sit on the truck and eat nuts and plaintain crisps from the roadside vendors.
We didn’t have time to make it to our original destination for last night. The roads on this side of the border are amazing (i.e. Sealed) so we made good time en route to Monrovia where we need to be tomorrow to apply for our Côte d’Ivoire visas. So we made camp roadside about an hour after crossing the border. We are on night 3 with no running water, electricity or flushing loos. I am tremendously grateful to my tentmate who had industrial supplies of wet wipes which she is generously sharing with me. I am used to not showering when I am hiking, but you do need to be mindful of the nostrils of others on the truck. I am also becoming unpopular and popular with my truckmates as I publicly called out all of the snorers and won’t pitch my tent until I know where they are going.
The snorers are grumpy with me, but the light sleepers are delighted. Apparently there has been a lot unsaid on the truck before we arrived in Freetown, and I am not remotely shy about saying it :-).
Looking forward to wifi and good coffee for lunch in Monrovia tomorrow
Tuesday 22 November