Leaving for West Africa - August 26th 2013

It’s arrived. Today I am heading to Sierra Leone to run Leadership & Management course for the country’s senior immigration officers, an ICMPD programme where experts are sent by the EU to build capacity in other countries. I am going in spite of the Foreign Office safety warnings that have been keeping me awake at night. The fact that I have had travel, health and repatriation insurance (the latter in case of death or kidnapping I presume) and a Foreign Office hotline number to call in case of emergencies (I have compiled an extensive list of possibilities) is all making me feel worse not better. I have been immunised against Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diptheria, have started to take the malaria tablets – but found nothing to cure cowardice.  My BA flight leaves at 10.40pm and arrives in Freetown at 4am tomorrow. Except it doesn’t arrive in Freetown, rather like London Luton being nowhere near London the Freetown airport is in Lungi and the capital is across the bay. As most of the safety warnings are about travelling to Freetown,particualry at night, this was my biggest fear. I had rejected the original plan that I would travel alone to the hotel – either across the bay in a speedboat or in around the bay in a 4 hour drive. The boat was out because of the combination of ‘no sea rescue’, the journey would be in the pitch black and the fact that I don’t like boats much. (I did try a trip around Paxos last year and, despite the sunny day, turquoise water and English speaking captain, had a panic attack the moment we left the harbour and had to be put ashore). I also rejected the 4 hour drive around the bay in a government vehicle, pitch black again, rainforest this time – even the news that there are hardly ever hold ups at night now wouldn’t convince me. So – ICMPD Project Officer Alfred Woeger is meeting me at the airport. My friend Maureen comes with me to the airport and my friends at Aspire Leadership, who recommended me for the work, phone to wish me well. I don’t sleep on the plane.