Being stuck in Freetown is not my idea of fun. When Alastair and I arrived in Sierra Leone, in the wee hours of last Sunday morning, we decided it was best to postpone our drive up to camp to be present for several meetings in town.
Currently, there is a fuel crisis going on in the country, with shortages of petrol causing masses of people to cluster around stations and queue up for hours in enormously long lines.
Without enough petrol, running the generator at the house we were sleeping in was infrequent at best. Lack of electricity is manageable, but water was also scarce, being dry season, and we ran out of that as well. No water, no electricity = no fun.
Alastair needed travel to camp, and I needed to stay in Freetown for another critical meeting. Therefore, I moved into a hotel that clearly didn’t have as much trouble finding the bare necessities. I had electricity, I had water, but I was alone…no fun.
Nevertheless, I had a meeting to attend, and, Alastair didn’t forget about me. Over the phone, he realized that a man we know from an exploration company right over the hill from our camp, Jamie, was flying up to his site from Freetown at the same time that my meeting finished. Flying! They use a helicopter to get to site instead of bouncing along the road in a vehicle for eight hours. Genius.
Jamie is a gentleman and, after speaking with Alastair, he kindly extended the invitation for me travel with him in style.
This was my first helicopter ride and I was sooooo excited!
Probably too excited.
I was given safety instructions, put a headset on, buckled myself in, and up into the air we went!
The sky was hazy from the Harmattan blowing dust from the Sahara, which didn’t make for the best visibility, but also didn’t dampen my spirits.
It was incredible to see the country from high up above, but still be low enough to notice the details of the terrain. There are tiny villages that seem to be in the middle of nowhere with no road access.
The hour long flight was quickly coming to an end as our camp came into view in the distance. It was strange to see it from above as we rounded on the helipad and came down for our landing.
It was a fantastic feeling knowing that I was about to hop out of a helicopter in camp after being in Freetown just an hour prior. I yelled a thank you into my headset and jumped out of the craft while the blades were still spinning. It immediately took off again and I was happily reunited with Alastair.
I can’t imagine a better way to get to camp from Freetown.
Now, THAT was fun!