A little over a week ago, Alastair, his parents and sister, and I set out from camp on a journey of epic proportions. Ok, maybe not epic but definitely one to remember. All packed into the Land Rover, we bumped and jerked our way over the roads that have ceased to be roads anymore. Five hours of driving brought us to a hospital that Al’s parents’ church helps to support. It was a meaningful opportunity for Paddy and Sue and the staff was excited by their visit.
Another four or so hours would have brought us to Tiwai Island but dark was quickly falling upon us so we stopped in Bo for the night. The next day brought more driving, halted only by a tree in the middle of the road, then a boat crossing to the small island of Tiwai.
Tiwai Island is in the middle of the River Moa and is a wildlife sanctuary that is home to 14 different kinds of primates, 800 species of butterflies, 135 species of birds, pygmy hippos and glow in the dark mushrooms according to Alastair who went walking in the dark of night. More than anything I wanted to see a pygmy hippo but they are eluded us as they do most people. We camped for two nights and went on walks in the forest as well as a canoe trip down the river.
When we walked quietly through the forest we were rewarded with monkey sightings up high in the trees.
We left the quiet of Tiwai for the chaos of Freetown. After a five-hour journey, we made our way directly to the beach. Fishing boats peppered one end of Tokeh beach, which drew crowds to buy that day’s catch.
The water was cloudy and we weren’t long in the water before Alastair was stung badly by a jellyfish. That was the end of swimming for me. Alastair endured quite a lot of pain aided by an anti-histamine tablet from his sister Ruth and some palm oil from a local man. Apparently palm oil cures all.
A couple of days in Freetown were all the family had left and unfortunately everyone fell ill for one of them. We deduced that it must’ve been food that made the family sick because miraculously, I remained unaffected. The other day was spent at Tacugama, which is a chimpanzee sanctuary. The sanctuary rehabilitates chimps that have been captured in hopes that they will one day be released back into the wild. Tacugama was one of my favorite parts of the country-wide excursion.
All in all, it was an exhilarating week for everyone. We waved goodbye to Paddy, Sue and Ruth as they road their boat across the bay to the airport. Thanks for coming guys!