Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Freetown Fun!

Yeah right! It has been about a week and a half since we returned from our last trip to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone where we go about every 4-6 weeks to restock on provisions. If you are a FB friend you have read more than one post on how we really don’t like Freetown. It is full of congested streets, craziness, and noise, but it is also one of those necessary places we must go.

Our goal this trip was to finally get our Driver’s Licenses. We filled out the paperwork and gave the money to our intermediary our previous trip and were awaiting our residency permits before being able to get our actual license. The trip to Freetown takes about 5 ½ hours with the first 1 ½ hours over dirt/gravel roads through small villages before hitting actual pavement. The next 3 hours is pretty smooth sailing over decently paved roads before hitting the outskirts of Freetown and the horrendous Freetown traffic. It can literally take an hour or more to get from the outer limits of Freetown to the central area where we stay and most of the shops that we frequent are.

Kissy Road is the main road into and out of Freetown. Lucky for us the Sierra Leone Road Authority is located on Kissy Road toward the city limits. So OUR plan was to just stop by there on our way into the city and get our licenses done and out of the way. We phoned our intermediary and he said no problem. We roll into the congested parking lot only to find out that they just ran out of printer ribbon to print the license! And no spare ribbon?!?! We did convince the guy to give us our paperwork so that Jeneson could drive within the city until the next morning when we would return and pray that they had found some printer ribbon. Back onto Kissy Road. On Kissy Road your vehicle can be at a standstill for literally 5-10 minutes before moving another 10 yards or so. It is a two lane road with enough room on either side of traffic flow for motorbikes to squeeze past. One of the good things about Kissy Road is the shops on either side. You are moving so slowly that you can really find almost anything that you are looking for, jump out of the vehicle, make your purchase and not have to walk too far to get back into the truck!
We made the crawl back and forth on Kissy Road the next morning and finally received our Driver’s Licenses. A big thank you to our intermediary, Joe, who made it possible to do all this without standing in one single line! And by the way, Driver’s Licenses photos are horrible the world over!

The rest of the trip consisted mostly of Jeneson staying in the truck with the kids while I ran into various shops and stores to make purchases. We restocked on our food supplies, made some medical and supply purchases for the clinic, bought some household goods on Ecowas Street (big street market), and even bought a computer printer. I’m not sure who had the worse end of the deal: Jeneson in a parked truck with 3 small children or myself running around in the heat and sun, in and out of various shops and haggling with vendors.

We stay at a Catholic guest house near the downtown area that has reasonable rates, but spotty electricity and water supply. We are ever grateful to get back to our quiet African village with our reliable solar power and well water!

Freetown – one of those necessary evils in the life of a Mokanji missionary.

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