We had parked by a different style of construction. It was made up of open wooden frames in a square and a huge roof made of grass coming to an open point. It was used as a meeting room by the community and we squeezed in to the space. We waited a while for the chief and his elders to congregate then had a brief meeting looking at the issues in Sanya. We were not to go on a tour of the town, but we were to be given lunch here and from a nearby house huge plates and bowls of rice, chicken curry, fish stew, okra, came into this meeting room. We ate with the elders and then made our farewells as we still had to cross the border.
Sanya is the last village in Sierra Leone, and now I looked more carefully, had some of the trappings, albeit on a small scale, of a border settlement. There was steady traffic in both directions but not just the usual bikes and motorbikes, but more heavily laden taxis and trucks. One of our vehicles did not have the permit to cross into Guinea, and Hugo had to return to Freetown to catch a plane home. So there was a lot of reorganisation of the luggage. Haba’s STEWARD car roof rack was piled even higher and the tarpaulin carefully tied over the top as the rain appeared to be returning. While this was going on I was once more observing the village life around me. During the meeting and lunch, the sides of the meeting room were filled with dozens of pairs of eyes as the children of Sanya came to look at the visitors – I felt even more in a cage than in Sumata. When the feast was over, there was a lot of spare rice and sauce. The main cook stood on the step of her veranda and ladled out spoon after spoon to the children who mobbed around her. They were not especially under or malnourished, but the opportunity to get some extra calories and different tastes was not to be missed, and if you saw your friend getting some, why not you?
But for some of the kids they were torn; do they continue to watch these weird outsiders in their funny clothes taking pictures on little machines and talking in strange languages, or do you go for the ladle. Some tried to do both, looking at us in one direction while their hands were stretched out in the other, i.e. towards the rice dish.