A leisurely breakfast with the Old Guys and Paul and Larry. The norm has become the ever-present footlong whitebread bun stuffed with either omelette and mayo or fish (much like tuna salad), instant coffee, and an anti-malaria pill.
Sierra Leone is predominantly Muslim with a significant minority of Christians, but it is unique in the world for the harmony between the two groups. Warning: Some of the following will be far more entertaining to my fellow audiovisual, tech, and musician friends.
This morning we visit the Kabala Baptist Church. We walk through the doors, where the congregation of about 100, packed into this small blue and cream-coloured concrete building are dressed to the nines, singing and dancing, and it is LOUD. As we are escorted to the front, I realize that although the congregation and the keyboardist leading them are both belting it out and true to musical pitch, they are in completely different keys. To my musician's ear, the result is so potently disorienting that it makes me physically dizzy for a time. Aside: As it turns out, when someone in the congregation bursts into spontaneous song and the rest join in, the poor keyboardist has to figure out on the fly what key they are singing in, and, because of where he is in the room, he often can't hear well enough to get it right. The choir is made up of about twelve Supremes... as in the female background singers for Diana Ross. (Google it if you have to.) The ladies' hairdos are amazing-plaited, sculptured, coloured, etc, and the loudspeakers are cranked well into distortion levels for the various people who take their turn at the wireless mic (which is constantly cutting out and giving blatts of RF interference. It is a sound-man's nightmare. The rest of our 90 minutes there (only part of the gathering) sees various people coming to the mic and leading in song or praying or taking up an offering for one ministry or another. I should mention that this is all in Creole, so I am picking up, at best, half of what people are saying. Bursts of spontaneous cheering, dancing and song are usually a complete surprise to me!
After lunch, it's off to the CAUSE Canada guest house for delicious ground nut stew and mangos, mangos, MANGOS!
A long stroll through the streets of Kabala takes us to the market. The sort of little hot peppers shown here are in much of Augusta's food we have enjoyed. On the way back to the guest house, we are swarmed by a condom parade(!). It is a large group of young people raising awareness of condoms, primarily for prevention of HIV/AIDS. They are pumping loud techno-dance music and condom slogans over their mobile PA. I get in on the fun and dance with them in the parade. I just couldn't help myself, I guess. Fun. Bernie and Ross go for a 5 km run, which brings us to goat and fish for supper and a visit from Andrea and Katie, two Canadian CAUSE Canada Interns. Tomorrow's plan is to leave at 6 a.m in the morning and cover the 120 km between Kabala and Makeni - a distance far greater than any ride I have ever done, let these conditions, which have been mid 30s and mid 40s with the humidity. I get packed up and hit the sack. In the night, I half waken to the sound like something being dragged across the floor, but I reckon it is a dream and I doze off again. Moments later, I hear another sound very close to my head. It sounds like there is someone in my room! I grab my flashlight and click it on, pointing it to the window above my bed. There is my backpack, with my passport, credit cards, US cash, camera, etc. halfway out the window! "Who deyah?!" I yell. The bag drops to the floor, but I hear no footsteps running away. Shining the flashlight out the window reveals a long stick that the thief used to hook my bag across the floor, up the wall and almost out the window, about a metre away from my head. The bars in the window slowed him down long enough for me to catch him. Ross and I close the windows and eventually get back to sleep. Tomorrow is a big day.