Into the Jungle – Settling in camp

Stephanie was struggling with the rental drivers.  They had used up far more fuel than they expected and needed to get some more.  Since the last filling station was in Kamakwie (on the other side of the Scarcies River), I think the solution was to buy some local expensive fuel from containers.  But we were on a tight schedule.  We had a full day of meetings in several villages in Sierra Leone, followed by more tomorrow before crossing the border in to Guinea on the following day.

A lady brought in from the last village we had seen had been cooking up a dinner of fish and rice, and stashes of bottles held by us travellers were brought out, including Amarula, whisky and a bottle of red wine.  We sat round, phased a little by our long journey but fascinated by where we now were in the midst of the area where the project was acting on the ground – about 350 km north east of Freetown as the crow flies, more like 500km the route we had taken.

We retired relatively early; the camp had no generator so we only had firelight, a couple of lanterns and our own torches or phones to light the world by.  The thunder rumbled around and it poured in the night.  I tried to arrange my stuff as best as possible around the room, the most useful and valuable items in the mosquito netting with me – I was having no false scorpions terrifying me again.

A few pages of book read and I was ready for sleep, and awoke only when the soggy dawn broke.  There was patchy activity in the camp and I saw for real what it was like.  I was in one of four rectangular cabins under the trees and behind me, about 30m away was a long drop toilet.  Across an open grassy area where our vehicles were parked were another series of cabins, this time metal rondavels perched on a bluff above the Little Scarcies River.  In front of my cabins were a couple of picnic tables where we had ate the night before and alongside it our hired cook was back boiling eggs in  a large pot and getting some water under way for us to make coffee – traditional African Nescafe sachets with Nido and St Louis sugar cubes of course.

In the trees off to my left was a large open area surrounded by bamboo benches and tables.  And out beyond the rondavels was our ablution area.  We took a plastic bucket and headed down to the river to wash.  I was content like most to strip to the waist and clean myself as best as possible but one or two dove in the river.  The waste water went into the bushes and I headed back for my boiled eggs.  It was a typical boy scout breakfast, as along with the instant coffee from a big box of sachets, we had white bread, margarine and red jam, flavour indeterminable.  Hugo had found some ripe mangoes at last at one of the last villages on the other side of the river and we all had a juicy slice.

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