Your contemporary shoe fervently feels the comfort of the bumpy uneven street ground establishing an intimate connection that you hope will
be everlasting. You are stood on top of the ground – a ground reflecting that of it’s people, a ground so sturdy it resembles its state, a ground so mighty it hints its experiences, a ground so grand it is Sierra Leone. As it determinedly makes its way down your trachea to the station of lung expansion the warm, kind air offers you a feeling of contentment, anticipation, and interest. By the time your diaphragm has relaxed and the oxygen has been converted into carbon dioxide – that of which your surrounding palm trees and beguiling flowers will benefit from – you are more than ready to begin your exploration of the persisting west African country.
Remember that the multimillion-dollar Hollywood portrayals are out of sight hence, out of mind. The tales that come from the eager mouths of those who are trapped inside their treacherous comfort zones must not be believed as they will do anything but feed your desire to explore. You are a discoverer.
As your thin fingers tightly grasp the worn out handle of your red and cultured suitcase your mind can only focus on two things. Your occupied mind is trying to concentrate on the life around you as you bravely walk through the crowded streets, your mind is also allowing your spinal chord to send the rapid nerve impulses to your hands as a reminder to not let go of the suitcase, do not let go of the suitcase. Around you there is a human library containing literature of common Sierra Leonean lives, poetry of lovely local music, history textbooks based on the rich past of a former British colony, newspapers updated with the latest stories of the ebola crisis, and a numerous amount of hopeful tour guides who are willing to fulfil your wishes for a humble Le 10,000.
The fear of standing out does not overcome as you realise you are not the only foreigner, you are not the only ‘white woman’. There are others, more of you; more just like you in the province all here for a specific reason. There are those who are here as brave medical experts offering aid to the victims of the disastrous outbreak, there are those who are here voluntarily as part of a non-profit organisation, there are those here on business ready to lead wealthy lives from the findings in the mines, there are many blending in with the environment.
The unfamiliar faces are welcoming, wives and children prepared to bargain suitable prices in order to buy the evening’s supper, young boys avoiding the flock as they kick around a football through the legs of by passers, amputees sat on the side of the road hoping for change before they play their game of football, blaring horns of large four by fours stuck in customary traffic as smiling policemen knock on windows anticipating a bribe. There are countless stories to be heard and you are overwhelmed with what the country has to offer. You suddenly remember do not let go of the suitcase.
The vibrant atmosphere reminds you of the free spirit of a young child, the soul that urbanisation lacks or has perhaps lost in its artificiality and materialism. The peculiar aroma of the marketplace your nose has lead you to as your feet obediently followed, creates a new entry way in your cerebrum. The sultry sun is getting to your sweat glands as they dilate and allow the release of the toxins that were trapped inside your body. Boy, are you in Africa.
Your inner investigator is prepared to get to business; you are not simply an observer. Reaching inside your khaki trouser pocket searching for the Sierra Leonean money you will need to satisfy your thirst you immediately remember that due to your excitement, the experienced traveller you are has made the ridiculous mistake of not converting your worthy British pounds into the local Leones – £500 that will be of no use, unless you find a bank.
Fearfully but calmly you show no sign of unsureness as you make your way through the mass of engaged people. Your attentive eyes meet those of the homeland, your sweaty arms make contact with arms covered in distinct fabric made up of attractive colours and patterns as well as other sweaty arms, your nose inspires the scents of fish, fruit, and flies. You are aware that you are being watched, you know that you are seen as a superior – would you imagine that, you are a superior -, you understand that unless you speak to someone you are a lost wanderer. Finding your way towards a tiny hut where a plump woman is sat you reach out your left hand as the other is busy holding onto your possessions and introduce yourself, Linda Spane, ambitious adventurer.
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