Exactly one year ago today, I stepped off of a plane onto Sierra Leone soil for the first time and began a year of new experiences. At that moment, I had no firm notion of how long I’d be living here, at least not past the two months allotted until our returning flight was scheduled. Yet, how quickly a year has flown by
I moved to Sierra Leone to be with Alastair. I don’t imagine I ever would have had an opportunity to even visit this country otherwise. After years of long-distance, we quickly became accustomed to a life together, even in the bush of West Africa.
I started this blog purely because of my move to Sierra Leone. I set up the web page just a few days before we left and have been doing my best to keep a steady update ever since. Initially, it was just a means of informing family and friends en masse about the goings on of Salone life. Sierra Leone is starkly different from the culture I that I grew up in, so every day brought an onslaught of new and unfamiliar happenings. As time has marched on, the unfamiliar became a bit more familiar and I’ve become interested in understanding the more subtle variances of life here. All the while, I attempt to relay some of that information into my regular blogs while staying in touch with family and friends.
Much of this year has been travel, travel, and more travel. Although, for the most part, we tend to go back and forth between the same few places (Boston, London, Freetown, Camp) on a few occasions Alastair and I had the opportunity to go somewhere different. This past year included a trip to Gibraltar; Granada, Spain; and Toronto, Canada. All of this to-and-fro business has turned me into a packing machine.
Of course, the majority of our time is spent here in Sierra Leone, which, to my surprise, is a fun place to be! One starts to live, eat and breathe the job when submerged in it in such a remote area like this, but Alastair and I always find ways to have a good time or try something new to break up the monotonous rhythm that the days can often take on. Life is so different here and, although the plight of the country is real and palpable, there is still much to enjoy and appreciate. The beaches are serene, the forest is lush, the people are friendly and the animals are exotic. We’ve had some strange animals cross our path and we’ve had some endearing pets as well. Apple, our pig, has been with us the longest, coming to us shortly after I first arrived, and a special bond was immediately formed. Now, Apple is much more independent from Alastair and I, but she still manages to do something strange to make us laugh whenever she’s around.
I think it must be impossible for a person live in a foreign place for any amount of time and not learn more about themselves. I’d like to think that I’ve grown and changed in some way, perhaps even become more tolerant and understanding about the complexities of human nature. I find myself questioning my own views about what is conventional and why things are the way they are. More often than not, I don’t have an answer to the question but I still like to ask :)
To call this ‘A Year of Self-Discovery’ would be a bit of a dramatization, but nevertheless, it has been a year of new experiences and the first year together with Alastair, so that makes it one not to be forgotten in my mind…and I hope the best is yet to come!
A one-year anniversary of living someplace is not usually a reason to celebrate, but I rarely need a reason when it comes to baking a cake :) Perhaps I’ll bake a delicious First-Anniversary-Living-In-Sierra-Leone Cake!