Theoretically, today is a day off the bikes - a welcome rest for our saddle-weary posteriors, butt [sic] the Old Guys love to RIDE. We just can't help it. Besides, we pledge to accompany Bernie as he rides extra distance to make up for the 45 km he missed when he was working on teacher development at Makeni University.
So, we cycle an "out and back" along the dirt we rode in on and include an exploration of a challenging single-track trail we find that branches off along the way. I end up taking another little spill - nothing serious.
Back at Franco's, we cool off with a swim in the ocean and I try body surfing for the first time. Of the dozen or so waves I tried my hand at, I did catch one just right - what a great feeling!
Wayne's Special for lunch (pasta with a creamy lobster sauce) and then a short paddle up the river to look for crocodiles. Ross spies one, but Bernie and I miss it. The boat is not enough action for the Old Guys, so we run the 1.3 km along the beach back to Franco's. As you can see, this "day off" turned out to be more like "triathlon day."
Around the dinner table (barracuda again - I just have to do it!), the conversation turns retro- and introspective. War stories start to emerge, encounters with all manner of danger and hardship those around the table. For Ross, it was his posting to Ethiopia during the famine, starvation abounding and death in the air. Our sister, Bev was there too, fresh out of McGill nursing school and posted to a remote village clinic with a long line of people with diseases she had no experience with.
Paul recounts his time in Freetown when every NGO except CAUSE Canada fled the country. CAUSE was involved in a refugee camp in Waterloo and it was a very strange and dangerous time indeed. Often, such are the lives of those driven to fight darkness with light.
The conversation turns to the philosophy of international development, a cause Paul and Bev have dedicated their lives to. Education (Bernie's bailiwick), UNDP Millennium Development Goals, CIDA, CAUSE, Old Guys in Action... Does any of it really make a difference?
I am, all at once, humbled and inspired by it all.
I will have a whole lot of processing to do when I get home to Canada.
Tomorrow is the triumphant ride into Freetown and the finish to this Tour de Sierra Leone. Good night.