There was still an hour or so of road to go before we reached Fintonia so it was pretty much dark when we emerged in to the village and drew up almost immediately. Here on the right hand side of the road was a small house, with a small veranda, very similar to almost every other house around. Our driver went off along the road and returned with a lady a few minutes later who held up a bunch of keys. After a bit of twiddling she managed to get the main door open. We could not see the detail of the house exterior at present as the light was almost gone, but we offloaded the vehicle and placed it all on the terrace, retrieved our head torches and explored the inside of the house. It had obviously been shut up for several weeks, it was baking hot inside and had a musty smell; a mix of animals, dust, possibly bats and the past sweat of many other villagers. There was one large room at the front with a table and chairs, behind there was a row of rooms, three bedrooms and a couple of wash rooms. The bedrooms looked as stark as the main room; the one I chose had a small broken wooden chair and a large bed with a plastic mosquito net draped over it. My closest wash room was even more rudimentary, a small narrow space split in two. The area nearest the door had a similar mud concrete floor to the rest of the house and was packed with several large plastic buckets, but on the other side of a row of bricks covered in tiles, was another concrete area with a drain at one end; basically a small hole in the wall that led out to the garden behind. This was to be my shower. There was no toilet indoors. The caretaker showed us where a small key was hung on a nail in of the rafters, then led us through a small metal back door and round to the right. There was a small shack made of four corrugated metal sheets. She unlocked the padlock on the hinged sheet at the front and opened it to reveal another concrete floor. In the centre was a small triangular hole. That was all. This was to be our latrine for the next week.
We thanked her for the tour and went back to take all the goods into the house. Everything more or less ended up on the floor – there were no cupboards or drawers. A few of the more precious food items we put on the table , but my suitcase, all the maps in rolls and other work materials were stacked in various corners on the ground.
Our caretaker introduced us to another lady who lived in the next house. She was to be our cook for the week and had got our evening meal ready. She humbly came in with a series of dishes; some plates and knives and forks, then two large metal pots with lids. Under one lid was a mountain of rice, large and sticky; under the other was a chicken stew… a rather scrawny chicken with more bone than flesh, but mixed with a number of onion, okra, spices and sauce. After eight hours in the passenger seat it was still welcome and filling.
Days and Nights of Freetown – Lazy Lunch – When I Went To