Freetown, Baby!


Lovely weather, isn’t it? by mabrajeux
August 22, 2010, 7:36 pm
Filed under: nature - wildlife, photos | Tags: , , , ,

True to that eternal British cliché, people here in Freetown have been talking of little else than the weather and the rain. Or lack thereof…

The rainy season in Sierra Leone hits its yearly peak in August before moving to more sporadic showers in September, yet yesterday was spent on the beach sunning ourselves between two dips in the ocean with nothing but a light drizzle to disturb us when it should by rights have been pouring down. Although last year’s August record was a whopping 2 week uninterrupted downpour, so far we’ve only managed maybe one and half days… It will probably still eventually hit us and local people have predicted that September will probably be much worse.

In the meantime, when it does come, the rain remains fairly spectacular, especially in the hilly geography of the Freetown peninsula. A 10 minute walk can take you from foggy rain to sunny delights just by going up or downhill and some areas of the town have been flooded for a few days after a particularly heavy day of rain. And if you are caught in one of the downpours, well, let’s just say my trusty wellies have come in extremely handy, especially as I try to negotiate leaving my flat:

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It often rains and it pours… by mabrajeux
May 10, 2010, 3:26 pm
Filed under: photos | Tags: , ,

I’ve been back in Freetown for a couple of weeks now and the strangest things about being back is that it is, well, not strange at all. It has really felt as if I never left in the first place, which is reassuring but also a little disconcerting.

There is one novelty though: it’s started to rain. It started literally with a bang on my first Tuesday here, the anniversary of the independence of Sierra Leone and the day of the Akon concert.

We sat on the balcony waiting for dinner and watched the clouds gathering in slowly. A few strikes of lightning later and the heavens literally opened and the wind started howling. It wasn’t quite complete until the power cut halfway through dinner though… And even the concert did not survive the rain!

Thankfully, the rain doesn’t always come like this. Generally, the first thing you notice is a stillness, or rather, a stickiness in the air. The heat gets more oppressive and you feel as if weighed down.

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The changing of the seasons by jc2010sl
March 20, 2010, 1:12 pm
Filed under: nature - wildlife | Tags: ,

There are 2 seasons in Salone. Wet and Dry. Although the wet season is still a few months off, there are grim signs that the dry season is drawing to a close.

First, the price of oranges has gone up by about 50% in the last week. Oranges are dry season fruits and become scarce towards the end of the season. When the rains come, mangoes will be plentiful and I won’t find an orange anywhere.

Second, and more important, water is scarce. There’s no reliable source of clean piped water, so expats tend to have large cisterns at their houses. One of my team mates up the hill has run out, and has spent the last few days failing to get any delivered. He’s been dropping in on the rest of us for his morning shower.

The other consequence of the water running out is that power is ever more intermittent. The national grid gets it’s energy from the Bumbuna hydro-electric plant upcountry – completed last year and one of the President’s flagship achievements. So when the water runs out, so does the power. In order to ration power, they’re only letting water through the dam for a few hours each day. I gather this will continue until the rains come.

At least it won’t be all bad then, when it’s raining 24 hours a day for 8 weeks straight. I’ll be feasting on mangoes, and have all the power I want. Every cloud…