Sierra Leone: People-to-People
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours

  Dispatch 5 - Makali  

Makeni-MAKALI (70km, 44miles) We travel to the edge of the Koranko ethnic area.

Points of interest: side trip to Masanga Hospital (adds 30km)

Cycling conditions: paved, a couple of significant hills


Rokel River, Magburaka bridge, Sierra LeoneOut of Makeni the route continues through forested landscape that is irregularly cut by rivers.  The terrain is irregular small hills.  The population is more sparse in this area so the proportion of forest to farm is greater.  In pockets where the terrain gets flatter, the population is greater and the farms more numerous.  The road condition continues to be excellent. 

Throughout the journey it seems as though you could stop and strike up a conversation with almost everyone along the road.  We didn't really have the time to totally test the theory, but whenever it seemed desirable the theory held.  We made far more quick friends than the number of photos would indicate because it was easy to get involved in the conversation and thoughts of snapping a photo were general lost.

Rokel River, Magburaka, Sierra Leone Rokel River, old Magburaka bridge, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, road to Masanga Hospital road to Masanga hospitalAt Magburaka half the group elected to take a twenty mile side trip to Masanga Hospital. The dirt roads Sierra Leone, road to Masanga HospitalSierra Leone, road to Masanga Hospitalwere firm and in good shape, but they grew narrower and narrower as we approached our destination, which was at the end of the road.

Masanga Hospital signMasanga hospital has it own proud and tradgic history. It was founded in the 1964 as a leprosy hospital.  It provided free leprosy and general treatment until the middle of the civil war, when it was overrun and looted several time by the rebels.  During one raid six patients were massacred.  By the end of the war the site was abandoned and over grown.  After the war some former staff members of the hospital returned to resurrect it.  Now, local staff, support by a group of international volunteers coordinated by the Danish organization Friends of Masanga, is again providing free care to the district and to people who travel from far away because of the hospitals reputation.

Masanga Bicycle WorkshopMasanga Bicycle WorkshopOne of the objective of the hospital administration is to wean itself of its dependency on foreign volunteers and support.  One element of this is the development of revenue generating programs.  Two of these that caught our attention are the bicycle workshop and aMasanga Bicycle Workshop project when sews old bicycle inner tubes into purses, laptop computer cases and other accessories. Masanga Bicycle Workshop Both projects are supplied by containers of used bicycle, parts and inner tubes from Denmark.  Everything we learned and everyone we met (medical staff, administrators, project staff, and international volunteers) was very impressive.

Returning to the paved road was pleasant except that our tour of the hospital and its associated projects took about three hours, which put us back on the road during the hottest part of the day.  With temperatures of about 86oF (30oC) and relative humidity at least asMamuri, Sierra Leone, taking siesta out of the heat high, the heat index was approaching 100oF (40oC).  The hotter it got the less power the muscles could muster, the slower we went, the longer we were out in the heat and the more we felt like we were going to melt in to a lump of goo on the pavement.  At the time, it made the choice of passing on the hospital visit and going straight to Mamuri for siesta (left) look more inviting and like the better choice.  But Masanga Hospitalwas very impressive as well, so it could be called a toss-up.

As the shadows start to grow longer in the afternoon, the temperatures start to drop again and it is possible to make a few more miles.  Sometime after 3pm we saddled up again and headed back out through the forest and rice farms.  The nice dynamic of the late afternoon is as the sun gets lower in the sky there is more and more shade across the road and the temperature starts to drop so successive miles get easier and easier and the lighting is inspiring.

Makali, Sierra LeoneOur destination for the day was Makali.  Our arrival was not an everyday occurrence so as might be expected we attracted an audience.  After meeting with numerous townMakali, Sierra Leone elders and officials it was decided that the best space for us to lodge was part of the upper floor of a building owned by the family of the local paramount chief.  It wasn't a spacious as a hotel but worked out well under the circumstances because of its central location and good ventilation, and it offered some degree of privacy and security.

Makali, Sierra Leone, war memorialMakali, Sierra Leone, war memorialProminent at the junction in the center of town is a memorial to the war victims from the chieftaincy.  Monuments and moralizations seems to be uncommon.




 Next dispatch.



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