Friday, October 05, 2007

Hangover Healing - 31st August 2007

Too hungover for lunch, I walked on the beach and bought a bottle of water from Harry’s Bar – was this the same bar that was portrayed in Blood Diamond?

I didn’t have the energy to cope with continually telling blokes to go away, and instead let one boy walk with me, which stopped others from trying. In the end, though, he was arguing with me that he did love me and want to marry me, and why didn’t I like him, so I told him to go away. The next time I got approached I just said “No”, and walked on. My head was hurting!

After the beach, I went to visit my new friends, Foday and Abu, who I had met in Paddy’s. They said they would get me a couple of mix CDs, of the best Sierra Leonean music. I also made a new pal, Lou-Lou, who invited me to her place anytime for a meal (and a spliff). I never had the chance to take her up on the offer, but she was a lovely, bubbly girl and I’ll definitely visit if I ever go back.

Back to Basics

The construction of the houses in Sho-Sho Village vary from stone foundations with mud and stone walls and tin roofs, to a jigsaw of corrugated metal, wooden structures, plastic sheeting and anything else suitable that was obtainable at the time. Whatever they are made of, the houses are kept tidy and clean, and are a lot less depressing than equivalent one-room flats in London can be. The whole place smells pleasantly of charcoal and soap.

Preconceptions about different lifestyles meant that I was surprised at how wholesome the existence in Sho-Sho was. How can I have been so patronizing and had so little empathy as to think that people would just slum it and be used to that, just because they’re living with very little? When people have very little, they take good care of what they do have, and the tranquil atmosphere of Sho-Sho gave more of an impression of acceptance of circumstances than want. Squalor or need would not have entered my mind, as I watched healthy little Emmanuel giggling while he was soaped and scrubbed down by his brother. Instead, I am ashamed to admit that I felt a touch envious - these people have such a strong community, close and supportive family and few material aspirations. It all seemed so thoroughly pure, and a recipe for the ultimate in mental health.

Of course, everyone expresses a desire to go to Europe or the U.S. and get a job, but they don't have expectations or take anything for granted. I would feel uncomfortable and unhappy about taking anyone out of that situation to give them 'opportunities' in Europe, because they'd loose so much in terms of community and general contentment.

These guys also eat much better than many western people, simply because convenience and processed foods are not an option. Organic rice, super-fresh fish, vegetables and spices, cooked over an open fire, are the only choice, and the people I spoke to don’t actually want to eat “rich foods”, preferring sticky rice and cassava leaf stew with fish, to meat and chips.

Life expectancy must be low only because of the lack of a welfare state and medical services. If you get sick and have no money you might die, but everyone’s ‘natural’ health must be better from the clean diet and tropical climate. The constantly warm climate adds to a general feeling of wellbeing, which is of course also known to lengthen human lives. But I did keep in mind that sometimes the villagers can’t afford to buy enough rice, and rely on each other for food at difficult moments.

After the beach walk, social visit, and a nap, my hangover had eased up and my father took me to Alex’s again, for supper, where I had a medicinal G&T, followed by tasty moussaka, chips and a lush-but-over-dressed salad. Pa had barbequed fish and draft Star.

P.S Sorry about the total lack of photos for today - my mind wasn't on the job...

No comments: