Living in the Community – Stuck in a rut

Joining up with Kofi and our driver in Moria, we drove back to our guest house in Fintonia.  Once we joined the main road we came across some familiar places.  The previous year Kofi, Matt Cushing (Gray’s colleague) and I had come back from Guinea this route in torrential rain.  There was a dodgy bridge along the way that had been worn away by the many trucks and termites.  Although the supports were solid concrete, and two metal railings crossed the gap, they were lined with planks of wood which had seen better days.  Uncertain whether the bridge could support the 4WD’s weight, we had used an alternative route with dipped down into the stream then up a steep slope the far side.  Going north was no problem; you dropped down the steep side and go back up on a much shallower gradient to rejoin the road, but going south you had to face this steep rock face.  In the rain I had been terrified we would not make it and be stuck on the river bed with the water levels rising fast, but with much slipping and sliding we had made it up and continued on our way.  of course the upshot of that had been that as we were congratulating ourselves at our good fortune, we came round a bend to discover the tree across the road which made us overnight in school storeroom.

In the dry season again we had had no problem that morning going north, and I thought being dry season the vehicle would grip up the rock face and get back on the road more easily than in the wet.  Nope.  Maybe the power of the engine was less, maybe the tyres were more worn, or maybe the rock surface was too shiny and smoothed by all the vehicles that had already passed over it, but no way could we get up the bank.  The car would hover on the rocks while the engine overheated and whined at us, and the driver had to abort and gently slip us back onto the riverbed.  We tried a couple of times but the car was seriously heating up.  We looked at the bridge.  Maybe we just had to take a chance at crossing it, but the contemplation of what would happen if the planks failed was daunting.  I did not want to see our transport fall headlong onto the river bed some 7m below, and I feared for the driver who could get seriously injured in the fall.  But there appeared to be no alternative.  This was the only road south to north for miles around.  I mean miles.  The next road west was near the coast, the one east was in Guinea heading into even more impenetrable forest.  Any diversion would take hours.


Stuck in the valley

As far as you can be – The Friendliest of People

One of the best parties Edsel and I went to was a ceilidh in Blue Hill.  We were cajoled into buying tickets and headed out in the dark in our little rental car up Ladder Hill and the main road through St Pauls.  Considering the island is so small, it took nearly forty minutes to get out to Blue Hill – the narrow road between bushy grassy verges or a line of flax sometimes the only thing we could make out in the headlights.  It was blowing a gale and the car shuddered violently as we went over one section, but eventually we got down into the area called Blue Hills on the south western corner.  It was not difficult to find where the party was – bright lights and a cluster of vehicles showed us where the community centre was.  Once inside we found some friends that had come over from Half Tree Hollow and the Rock Club and we had a good evening.  We left about 2am, the party still going on and inched our way back to town in the dark.  A few days later I drove the road in the daylight and saw that the piece of road where we had shuddered in the wind was a ridge just about as wide as the road itself.  I was glad that first time we had traversed it, I had not been able to see over the edge.


Our little ol’ hire car

Edsel and I were introduced by Sandra and Ray to a wide circle of people in the Rock Club which meant that when we drove around we not only got the courtesy hand wave that everyone on island does, but the double take one, where you get the subconscious wave, followed by the surprise of recognition and a more vigorous shaking of the hand before you pass each other.  We’d often meet people in the Main Street, and whether we were wanting to shop or were late for a meeting, we had to exchange a few words with them in the street.  It could tell ten minutes to walk twenty yards.


Out Blue Hill way