It was after five o clock; we had been on the road since 9 with only an hour or so in Makeni and were very tired, but we were still not at our destination. Worse still we had not reached Kabba Ferry. But after a couple of hours of village, field, river, rocky hill repeated over and over again, we rose out of one valley and saw a mobile phone mast. Then a water tower. The village turned into a town with proper administrative buildings and many more houses constructed from concrete, metal window frames, felt roofs. This was Kamakwie, the largest town before we entered the Tambakka Chiefdom, our final destination. Stephanie only stopped to ensure we regrouped. It was still a bit of trek to the ferry and Haba headed as fast as he could to head off the ferrymen from leaving their posts. The rental drivers had become increasingly concerned about the terrain they were in. I think they were used to the potholes of Freetown, and all the urban problems, but were sorely afraid of the branches, the deep grass covered hollows in the track out of which they thought they would never leave. Our vehicle too was not in a good state, the transmission seemed dodgy, even on open stretches of track he had trouble accelerating fast, so we dropped further behind Haba.
The light was changing, the clouds had lifted a little and the golden sunlight picked out long shadows of every scrap of grass and tree. And then all of a sudden we were there, on some concrete dropping steeply to the wide Little Scarcies River. Haba and the second vehicle were there and our colleagues were all standing around, hands on hips, watching the operation of the ferry.
The ferry was over the other side and they had spotted Haba’s arrival and had started to haul across. There was no jetty, the concrete just disappeared into the water. The water level drops and rises considerably from wet to dry season, so the road just had to stretch out as far in to the water as possible. The villagers on this side of the ferry were using the hard surface to work with the water. Women were washing their clothes, children were stripped to the waist and rubbing themselves all over with bars of soap. A bicycle and a motorbike were also being washed down. You could tell by the wear and tear around the ramp that these activities had been occurring since it had been built.
To one side of us fishing boats were moored on the mud. Simple dugout canoes but since the trunks they were dug out of were huge, the boat themselves had a capacious capacity.