Wednesday, 13 March 2013

My definition of Paradise

Allow me to introduce my Paradise...its name is
S I E R R A    L E O N E

Beautiful Beaches, golden sand, accommodating people with a heart of gold. Blessed with natural resources beyond measures...diamond, bauxite, iron ore and gold. It's always a sight to behold, whether it's a stroll along the beach or just watching the sunset. Trees dancing to the rhythm of the wind and sunshine to add that extra humph to your day. Oh the memories!

Let Me Explain......
Sierra Leone...Yes! That is my definition of paradise. I am sure your curious minds are now running a riot thinking why would anyone called Sierra Leone a PARADISE?
Well calm your minds because I’m about to explain just why a country not widely known or a country so small can be defined as paradise. It is not impossible; in fact it’s the only paradise I know.

Living in England for the past years, I can comfortably say I know what comfort and luxury is and I have grown to appreciate it all but nothing comes close to when December draws near and it’s that time of the month again to board my flight to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Do you know the kind of joy that overcomes my soul? No, you wouldn’t know but maybe by the time I finish my explanation you will get the gist.  Leggoo

I hate parting with my hard earned cash but I spare no expense in buying my not-so-cheap ticket to The Lion Mountain, Sierra Leone...because what I get back in return is priceless compared to the price of the ticket. My friend you cannot put a price on Paradise but true say, tickets need to be cheaper so I can be going as often as I wish. Hmmm......why don’t I pack my bags and go for good, now that would be a lasting solution isn't? Soon…..Very soon. :)

Landing in Sierra Leone, everyone on board the flight sings local chants, depending on the time of the season. Most of the time the flight is 99% Sierra Leoneans and the rest doesn't normally have much choice but to join in any way they can, even if its just by smiling. You know what they say…if you can’t beat em, join em. Now how many flights do you go on that passengers sing on their arrival? None, except if you're going on a school trip or maybe a part of a football team or something of the sort. Well, what can i say, sierra Leoneans are pretty amazing people so expect nothing short of amazement. This is a priceless moment and it goes to show generally how happy people are just returning back home, even if it's for a short time.
However, if you are still half asleep as you step out of the plane, the slap across your face from the hot air is bound to wake you up. If that doesn’t then I don’t know what will. Crazily, that moment of suffocation is one I always look forward to. (I am perfectly OK, all my screws are in place ...don’t worry).

Getting your luggage: Oh the struggle!!  This part is not for the faint hearted. Picture's hot and sticky. Noisy and chaotic. Packed and not well ventilated...My friend it's the World War 2 all over again! My stress level rises to an immeasurable height and for a brief moment I asked myself, what am I doing here?! Nonetheless, this is quickly forgotten. My time spent in Sierra Leone erases the above chaotic moments from my memory...well till the next time of course.
After all the rush of getting my luggage, I am then greeted at the airport by my ever smiling cousins or sometimes my friends. After that luggage mayhem, the smiles and excitement on their faces is an antidote. That moment again is priceless. By the time I board my speed boat to go across from Lungi Airport to Freetown I am just filled with excitement for a fun-filled holiday.
As the Taxi pulls up, my relatives will start a shout of joy ….e don kam, e don kam, e don kam which in my local means she is here! That is also their own way of saying thanks to God for your safe arrival, although prayers never go amiss. No matter how hungry you are…that prayer is going to take place. Sorry eh, that hunger just have to wait!

Living in England you don't really eat your local as much as you would like neither do you get the same authentic taste you'll get from all the fresh vegetables and ingredients used to prepare a serious my case Cassava leaves which is my all-time favourite. My dearest aunt knows the deal and I was pleasantly greeted by a 5 man portion rice and cassava leaves, no meat or chicken....just fish! Oh yea…..just what the doctor prescribed. After the destruction of that dish, it was bed time seen that my plans of going clubbing was sadly thrashed when my flight got delayed...and I was knackered!

An authentic plate of Cassava Leaves on a bed  of Rice!

There’s is only one word that can define my bed in Africa….. Magic! Massive, fresh linings combined with a full stomach of authentic cassava leaves. The tiredness from such a long flight aid a good night's sleep as well. Ha my friend it doesn't get better.....and it was good night. Zzzzzz

First day I am awoken by the glare of the sunlight glistening through my window. Oh the joy! That’s not all, the cock crowing, my cousins shouting my name from down the corridor who can't contain their excitement, the sound of my neighbours' music blaring through our local radio, and the mixed but all so familiar flavours of different local dishes from my neighbours and my auntie’s kitchen. This and many more are my wake up calls. Who needs an alarm?
Breakfast is just the best. Freshly baked bread from the corner shop hits the spot each time.  As I attack the bread with vengeance I worry about my gums sometimes.  This is washed down by an ice cold bottle of Vimto on my veranda as I watch the people go by. You wouldn’t understand! The feeling is heavenly!

Believe me when I say, the Simplest things bring the greatest joy and contentment. If my clothes needed ironing i don't need to wait around for electricity and don’t you worry there is always a backup plan. The good ole gose... (makeshift Iron) to the rescue!!! This is a traditional metal piece used to iron clothes. It can be heated by charcoal or sometimes we just put over the stove for emergency service. This is a trusted device my friend, don’t fret. It does an awesome job. The availability of electricity is never an issue, as long as my Nokia 1100 is fully charged I am covered for at least two days.
The good ole goos (Makeshift iron)
The simple things!

What time is it? It’s that time to hit the streets of Freetown and the lovely beaches. By now my friends would have heard about my arrival and they know the deal...we hit the beaches by day and night clubs by night. In short, we paint the town red. Moreover, I am bound to see familiar faces and lots of catching up to do which I always look forward to. Nearest to my house is Lumley Beach which I can comfortably walk to in less than 15 minutes. Now tell me how blessed I am.

Sunset at Sussex Beach- Sierra Lone

My favourite beach however has to be Number 2 beach where the sand is silver and the sea is blue. I am not playing, this is utter paradise.  It's a trek from my house, even in a car but I always look forward to my time at Number 2 Beach. Too bad I can’t swim...even if my life depended on it! The seafood you get there spells delicious. Fresh from the boats, well-seasoned and tasty too... I am talking about real authentic flavours. The taste is absolutely glorious. Oh lawd...all i can say is ''Take Me Back''  What do you know about my paradise?? Ha!

Authentic Flavours From Sierra Leone - Fried rice and selection of Fishes.

The night life is very much alive...the beach bars, clubs and restaurants serve cold beer and our local Star beer never fails to satisfy and you won’t forget it in a hurry. The music, the atmosphere and the night vibes are to die for. You think New York is the city that never my friends haven’t been to Sierra Leone. We don’t sleep; we party day and night, dusk till dawn, seven days a week!

Basking in the sun at Lumley Beach with our local Star Beer at hand!

Let me quickly add that the sun doesn't play. I am dark already but it never fails to give me that extra added shine making me look like a fine charcoal. For this reason that ice-cold, thirst-quenching water always comes in handy. The way i suck the life out of that packet of water ...

The parties, the beach outings, the chilling...need I say more? We party hard. How can I forget the day we arrived home 7:30 am after one of the best nights. It was a party to remember, good company just added that extra laughs and fun, alcohol overflow kept the mood on form, good music kept me on the dance floor all night, the vibes was simply awesome.....what more can I ask for. My Paradise…

Oh I haven’t told you how accommodating Sierra Leoneans are. With our charming gents and beautiful ladies.... you will never feel like a stranger. Sierra Leone is HOME to all. For every time I visit, I make new friends. The vibe is always refreshing.

In Sierra Leone the daily flex is called Hakuna Matata - No worries!  Nothing…. Absolutely nothing bothers my soul! I don’t go on social networks and yet I don’t feel bored, I don’t have the luxury I have in England and yet I am filled with contentment, I don’t wear makeup but my skin is flawless (the sun does wonders, even my pimple makes a run for the hills), I don’t have electricity nor efficient water supply and yet I don’t feel deprived. Need I say I always put on extra pounds by the time I hit Heathrow airport?  I think you would have guessed that anyway.

On a more serious note, the simple things fill me with utmost joy. I dread the goodbyes, leaving my loved ones behind and not knowing when next I’ll see them. Despite all the means of communication these days, Whatsaap, Skype, text, phone calls etc. None of them come close to the feeling you get when you actually hug them in your arms. For that reason, I always try to fill my holidays with beautiful, lasting memories that i will hold close to my heart till next time.

Remember life is not about the big happenings, it is about the little simple moments that you look back on and realise just how blessed you are. You don’t need a lot to be happy, just enough to be content because a lot is not equivalent to happiness.

My friend, Happiness is everything , everything else is overrated.

Sierra Leone is my paradise, my solace and a place filled with all my childhood memories so going back is always a pleasure for me. Ti's true what they say.......No Place Like Home!

Do you have a solace, a place where you call paradise? Lets hear about it.

Till next time...