Sunday, October 12, 2008

from Betty: Village visit

Betty (Saturday, October 4) ecially since we would be in, what I thought, would be a very comfortable SUV. Well, even an SUV is not that comfortable going over seriously eroded pothole
Saturday a newly arrived American embassy employee invited us to join him on a trip to visit historic Charlotte village and a nearby waterfall. I took a risk and said that I thought I could make it esp filled roads so I was glad it wasn’t a long trip. When we got there, like every other place I have seen in so far in Sierra Leone, the village was built on the hillside, which meant that I had to do a bit of climbing to see it.
But what an amazing village! Small old wooden cottages probably built in the 1800’s or early 1900’s dotted the lush hillside many surrounded by flowering shrubs. Some were in relatively good shape and even painted and others were falling down but still lived in. A guide appeared and invited us to walk through the village and up to the church built in 1841. Near the stone built church were the ruins of an even older girl’s school started in 1816 by the Anglicans.
Along the way we were warmly greeted by the villagers and allowed to take photos. After seeing the church we started down a rough dirt path through the other side of the village that would take us to the waterfall. After walking for a while I realized that the waterfall was probably too far away for me to easily walk there. Questioning the locals in English and in our limited Krio elicited various responses from not far, to very far and “small far”. Our friend decided to go on with the guide while Bob and I found a place to sit and wait. By that time we had collected a small crowd of mostly young children. They were very polite and we talked as best we could though most of them did not know much English. They liked having their pictures taken so they could look at themselves on the digital playback screen. The older ones were blowing on some leaves to make sounds so Bob showed how they could make an even louder sound with the same leaves. That kept everyone laughing as many made futile blowing attempts and others surprised themselves when they produced a loud blast. Just as our friend came back from the waterfall it started to rain, this still being the rainy season, and so we quickly got out our rain gear and made our way back to the car. It was the end of a very pleasant morning as we drove back to Freetown. But it made us both aware at how beautiful this country is and how we want to explore it more. Also this country has had a really long history of interacting with Westerners and more evidence remains from those days than I have seen in many other African countries.

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