Because of the visa delays we are behind schedule again. Thus, six o’clock departure, in the dark, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Alonso is going to push for arriving in Freetown tonight, usually a two-day trip.
Driving through Monrovia early morning, the rubbish everywhere is striking This entire city looks like a shanty town, it reminds me of the poorer parts of Port-au-Prince, in Haiti. We leave the town in northern direction, and the outskirts too, are chaotic and messy. In between neighbourhoods, overgrown swamps form mosquito breeding factories, and trash collection points. I am all for helping poor countries preserve the planet and the climate, but perhaps they could make a start themselves.
Getting out of Liberia is relatively quick, getting into Sierra Leone is also easy: visa at the border, and at 40 US$ relatively cheap. Off we go. Ahhhh, but wait a minute, health control! We need to produce our yellow fever vaccine proof, as well as corona vaccine proof, and then each of us has their temperature measured, and – usefully – noted down in yet another great big book. Another half an hour down the drain.
In is incredible, but crossing the border we soon recognise that we are in another country, once again. Gone is the Liberian chaos. The villages are fewer, but much better organised, and mostly clean – I realize that ‘clean’ is a function of population density and spendable income, and Sierra Leone looks poorer and less populated, but still, it is remarkable. A bit like in Cote d’Ivoire, in between the villages large plantations for palm oil line the road. A road which is brand new, which also helps, of course; the signs announcing villages and river crossings are new, and still in place; no doubt in a few years’ time they will have disappeared or rusted away. Also remarkable: unlike in any other country so far, there is not a lot of selling along the road, no stalls with vegetables, no stall selling anything, really. So not very colourful. Except green, of course, the countryside.
In the end we do stop in Bo, somewhere halfway. Apparently a nice town, nice market, but I don’t get my travel companion to accompany me. The terrace and the pool of the hotel are too tempting. For me, too, to be honest.