The long way through Sierra Leone

There was a lot of unclear and contradicting information about how to get from Monrovia to Freetown, the capital Sierra Leone. Some guidebooks said 5 hours, others said 2 days; the dry season had to be accounted for since the rainy season closed down the shortest route, and the bad roads and choice of motorbike vs. car also made a big difference.

the hand-drawn ferry and my motor taxi driver

the hand-drawn ferry and my motor taxi driver

I couldn’t set off until 1pm, since I was still waiting at the Sierra Leonean embassy in Monrovia for my $150US visa. The visas seem to get more expensive as I move west, but Im not sure why.  By 1:30, I was in a shared taxi , squashed into the front seat with a customs officer on his way to work, and luckily his presence sped up all the checkpoints and eliminated all bribe demands. I crossed the border quickly and without hassle, a marvelous surprise, but then got accused of smoking marijuana on the bridge I crossed by foot to get over the river separating Liberia and Sierra Leone.

At 4pm, I was negotiating the next leg of my journey, a 250km 4×4 dirt track through the forest on a dusty, sometimes soggy road barely passable by car. So I did it on the back of a motorcycle, and 5 hours later, I couldn’t feel either one of my ass cheeks and my face and backpack had become the same colour of reddish brown. Luckily it was already night time so no one could see quite how outlandish I looked, and I checked into a hotel for the most welcomed cold-water bucket shower I had had yet.

Our private beach on the outskirts of Freetown

Our private beach on the outskirts of Freetown

I still had 3 hours left of my journey to Freetown, which I continued the following morning. I reached the capital around noon, and took another series of mototaxis through some side-street hilly roads to reach my next couchsurfer host by 3pm.  He fed me and took me straight to the beach after my 24 hour trip, were the next few hours of deserved clean and calm fed my soul more than my senses.

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