We headed back to the guesthouse in the middle of town for a stodgy lunch of rice and chicken once more. The rest of the team had another meeting in the afternoon, but Matt, Kofi and I had to start heading back to Freetown, and needed to cross the border to Guinea. Given we had lost one of our vehicles on day one of the trip, the logistics for this was a little complex. Hugo had lost us a second vehicle the day before, and two were needed to go forward to the southern part of Guinea. Fortunately, the rental company had provided us with another vehicle that had travelled to Fintonia the day before; it had no papers to cross in to Guinea, so we needed to be dropped at the border and this new rental plus driver would be there to pick us up….. hopefully.
Haba would take us through the border and so we packed into the STEWARD Toyota. He drove with his usual care and speed and we flew down to the Sierra Leone border. There only being three of us, and once Haba had explained he was just dropping us off, the immigration did not take long. However the stamp I got in my passport that day caused me problems at Lungi Airport. Although I now had a multi-entry visa, the stamp at Sanya was for two weeks only, and I was to be in Freetown about 18 more days. This was spotted as I left the immigration and only after several minutes of pointing out that I also had a month long stamp from Lungi airport, I had not seen the need to look for an extension. How I got away without a detention or a bribe at Lungi I have no idea but sheer determination when I want to go home often gets me through silly bureaucracy. When I try and be reasonable that is when I normally get caught out.
We passed through the border post and drove into Sanya village. The sunny weather just before lunch had all but gone; Haba was sucking through his teeth a little and saying that the wet season was well and truly arrived. The rain was falling steadily now. Haba was well known in Sanya and he stopped off near the Secretary’s house where he often lodged when passing through. The rental car was parked in the centre of the village not far from where we had had lunch the previous day, but of our driver there was no sign. We sat in the car for a while but as the windows clogged up with steam the three of us wandered up on to the veranda of the Secretary’s house, greeted various family members and friends there and perched where we could. There being no mobile reception here, Haba’s phone was useless so he sent some people off to look for the guy. We had a few ideas what he might be up to; a couple of which were not very salubrious.
I’m so much more patient in Africa than back home, but even so half an hour passed here very slowly and the calculations were going on in my head – the drive to Fintonia was probably 4 hours from here in the best of weather and the rain was gushing down now, it was dripping off roofs into buckets and pans, overspilling down the steps and brown rivulets of water were forming in all the erosion gullies.
There was some activity on the road while we sat there; several old rusty taxis packed full of people and their roofs overloaded with luggage, bounced down the rocky road towards the border. Not much seemed to be going south. A couple of trucks also passed through, belching black smoke into the rain. I started to wonder if the three of us would have to catch one of the taxis ourselves. Matt had to be back in Freetown in two days as he had a flight to head to London the day after.