4am – I have been sitting next to a miner on the plane – he kept me awake with tales of how awful the country will be, but does offer to escort me through the airport in case of problems. I accept. My official status stamped in my visa means I am whisked through all the checks though and Alfred Woeger is there to meet me. We go to a nearby small hotel. I am so tired and so relieved to meet Alfred that I don’t mind that it isn’t The Four Seasons (well not much, actually it is a bit of a shock). Realise I don’t have a bottle of water to clean my teeth, use Diet Coke instead. Go to sleep – wake up two hours later to the sound of African rain.
8pm – finally am in bed. Have walked around Lungi (bought bananas), marveled at curtain-like rainfall, met immigration officer no.2 (Alusine Joaque) and driver – both lovely. Been on ferry across the bay – seen huge fish for sale and got startled several times by people carrying live chickens – impressed by people carrying all sorts on their head – fruit, bread, fish, cleaning materials, logs (!!) a huge pile of assorted biscuits and eggs (no, not even one broken) – driven though various areas of Freetown – affluent (colonial architecture, large verandahs) to slums (saw children and grey hairy pigs swarming over a rubbish dump). Driving through the centre like driving down Columbia Road on market day – right through the middle of all the densely packed people! Visited several street sellers, the no 2 immigration officer’s family and the immigration offices where we were welcomed by Chief Immigration officer (No.1), arrived at Hotel Mariam – been to beach, beautiful from a distance but full of rubbish and hospital waste close up – went to craft market where I brought a mini elephant and the project officer brought a 3ft wooden crocodile. Had fish (barracuda) and chips for tea – left the salad (thanks David Halford). Much clearer on what’s needed for the course. WiFi ostensibly working but in reality not.