I guess, technically, this is my first actual blog post since the last one I wrote was more of a Q&A. As it turns out, writing a coherent, but entertaining, sentiment is decidedly harder than I imagined. Bear with me. I planned on posting an actual blog the 31st and then posting a second blog on the 1st with only my New Year’s resolutions, but that required planning ahead of time. I went out and celebrated the New Year instead. Happy 2017!
Right, so let’s actually start talking about stuff like a blog is supposed to do. Since my last post, I have relaxed on the beach, hiked a mountain, and hung out in the city. Today, I’m going back to my village on the other side of the country. What can I say? Sierra Leone is a small place.
The great thing about Salone is that there is so much variety in regards to the environment (I hope any volunteer takes a minute to appreciate what I just did there). It’s slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina, but unlike South Carolina, it isn’t just a vaguely flat expanse of trees with sweltering humidity. Well, at least not during the dry season. If you know where to look, you can find beautiful beaches with crystal clear water surrounded by breathing taking landscapes. It’s at these beaches where I spent Christmas with most of the other volunteers. After a hectic 5 months with what can only be described as a continuous sensory and cultural overload, withering away the days on a beach in the sun with your friends was a much needed reward. Eventually, our group split up for a few days to either go home or visit our host families (a.k.a. the amazing group people that graciously let us volunteers stay in their homes for 9 weeks when we first arrived in country). Afterwards, most of us convened back in a city to celebrate the New Year. The plan was to go out and celebrate on New Year’s Eve (like Americans), then head up to a town in the north and celebrate New Year’s Day at an impromptu party on a “hill” (like Sierra Leoneons). Let’s get a few things straight though. First, it was a mountain, and I hiked it in flip flops. Second, the descent was infinitely more…complicated…than the assent. Imagine a stampede of hundreds of people running down the mountain, now include a near zero visibility due to dust and you get the general idea. Only afterwards, did we learn that we had taken the “local” path. Apparently there was another path on the other side of the mountain, live and learn. Aside from the chaos though, the views from the top of the mountain were incredible. To be honest, the view reminded me a little bit of Tucson, Arizona; mountains enveloping city while everything below, streets, cars, roofs, buildings, were covered in a nice layer of dust to give the whole place a brownish-yellow tint. Similarities notwithstanding, the surrounding trees arguably made it a little too green.
After a draining 9ish hours of travel, I arrived safely back at my site. I opened up my doors, placed all my bags in the kitchen, quickly washed and then passed out the second my head hit my pillow. I spent the next day cleaning, unpacking, and rearranging my house. It was unfathomably dusty. Which brings us to today. I know it’s (sort of) 5 days late but I thought I would end this blog post with some goals. I give you my 7 resolutions for 2017:
- Learn Mende, an ethnic language of Sierra Leone.
- Start the process of (and hopefully succeed in) acquiring a Senior Secondary School for my town/district.
- Learn to play an instrument.
- Travel to at least 5 new places in Salone (another name for Sierra Leone).
- Keep up with the blog.
- Try something new.
- Learn to dance.