We’ve been in Bo for 3 weeks and it feels like we’ve settled in nicely now. Last week was a big week on the setting up / admin front. We managed to sort a vehicle, get our visas extended & get multi-entry visas, took delivery of our shipment which we organised back in December, and get our cosy little room and veranda at The Bo Inn running smoothly. All while Kirsty has been making excellent progress on the AdAmi front, and most importantly little Elsie has been super happy – she’s loving all the attention from the staff and locals, and obviously enjoying full time Daddy Day Care.
Unless you’re willing to risk it on a motorbike it’s tough / impossible / neglectful of your safety getting around Salone without a vehicle. Hiring one with a driver is expensive, about USD100 per day before fuel. Fuel is about 75pence a litre.
So we are now the proud owners of a Nissan Juke. Not the type of vehicle I had in mind – I thought we would be buying a proper big 4×4 but I found it really difficult to find one at the right price with a history I could trust. I found a French lady on Facebook selling a Toyota 4Runner (my preferred vehicle), for USD12k with 70,000 miles on the clock. It was exactly the deal I had in mind. Except when I asked her for the vehicles VIN (like a serial number for cars), she duly sent it to me but obviously had no idea what is was. After checking the car’s history online (surprisingly easy to do) it turns out it was shipped over from a scrapyard in the USA 3 years ago with 190,000 miles on the clock. Miraculously it was then on sale in Freetown for USD15k at 60,000 miles when the poor French lady was taken for a ride and paid well over the odds. There seems to be a big scam of this nature taking place in Salone, and probably all over Africa. Glad I avoided that one.
Incredibly I found a Belgium lady advertising a Nissan Juke on Facebook and it turned out her husband went to my old school, Rydal in North Wales, 10 years before me. They’d bought their car brand new in Belgium in 2013 and it’s been in Salone for 2 years. One careful lady owner, exactly what I wanted.
So far so good. It’s been fun and challenging driving over here – the roads are crazy, there’s always motorbikes undertaking, overtaking or cutting you up, often carrying ridiculous cargo and 4 people per bike is very normal – so i’ve been extra cautious going nice and slowly, much to the amusement and annoyance of everyone else on the road. Sierra Leonean car drivers never give way to bikes, so the bike riders look bemused and very happy when I’m waving them through tight gaps first, rather than barging my through.
The main roads are either really good or really bad. The really bad ones are being worked on at record pace, but they don’t close them while work takes place, so you share the road with the usual hoards of cars and bikes, plus all the heavy machinery – no one likes giving way, and the traffic controllers with their little red and green flags are either total idiots or totally ignored, mostly it seems they are both. It’s pretty dangerous and quite chaotic, and totally normal here.
I haven’t seen a single baby/child car seat in the country, other than Elsie’s. The mobile phone companies have road safety slogans dotted around on advertising billboards now with important messages like “Always wear a seatbelt” and “Don’t use your mobile while driving” – they are universally ignored too.
Life at Bo Inn Guesthouse
It’s been awesome so far, we’re so pleased with how our accommodation has ended up. We didn’t anticipate living in a hotel room in our mid-30’s but it’s working out perfectly for us. All of the staff here are incredibly friendly – Sierra Leone is by far the friendliest place i’ve ever been – all the staff dot over Elsie and she laps up their attention. It’s super cute to watch. All of our washing and cleaning is taken care of, I don’t have to mess about with generators or fixing aircon or any other hassles. Happy days.
Back in December we spent a few days putting together online orders of stuff to ship over – mainly Ikea bits & pieces to kit out what we thought would be a 2/3 bed apartment. It all arrived last week, on time amazingly. So we’ve got our room pimped out – Elsie has a cot (even though she sleeps in with us at the moment), a ball pit, a tunnel and play tent, rubber floor tiles, a high chair, nappies, etc, and we have warm-white light bulbs (all the light bulbs here are the fluorescent type which I hate), rugs, exercise mats, a laundry basket and other small-small things that make life easier.
We’ve also started buying all our own fruit and veg and cooking our lunch and evening meals in the kitchen – it’s brings a healthy bit of normality being able to eat our own food every day. All the spices and herbs we bought with us are getting put to good use – the local kitchen staff are confused by our food choices – most of them have never eaten Indian, Thai or Italian dishes. The diet over here is extremely simple, basic and apart from one dish (groundnut soup), pretty rubbish in my opinion. The best bit is the kitchen staff insisting that they do all the washing up for us. Amazing.
It’s still early days but, as I had hoped, the grass seems greener here. Let’s see how that goes over the next few months. I moan about the heat every day, but my daily 17:30 Star beer(s) quickly sorts that. For now the three of us are feeling really happy, me in particular when the generator gets started at 18:45 and the aircon comes on. 😎.