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

  Dispatch 7 - Boajibu  

Mondema-BOAJIBU (40km, 25 miles) The middle of this section is really off the beaten track.

Points of interest: diamond mining area during dry season

Cycling conditions: dirt, several big hills


Modema-Bama road, Sierra LeoneWhile the road wasn't as easy a ride as the paved road, it was as or more beautiful.  As the road got more remote it became less traveled and less well maintained. For long stretches, except for the occasional walkers that we would come upon as we neared villages, we pretty much had the space to ourselves.  Usually the answer to the questions, "Did you walk your bike?" is, "Only up the hills."  But on some sections out of Mondema the descentsBama-Baojibu road, Sierra Leone were steep enough and rocky enough or rutted enough that it was more relaxing and practical to walk the bicycle down hill as well.  Overnight rain helped to keep the  puddles, ponds and lakes on the flat section road full, as well.  To try to keep the drive train more operational we had to dismount any number of times and make short portages with the bikes.  The optimistic spin on this cycle-cross activity was it provided cross training for upper body strength.

Public health sign, Sierra LeoneThis sign probably gets a snicker from most readers of this post, but it speaks volumes to initiative in public health and environmental health in many place in Africa.  Over the years and decades there have been great strides made in providing a health and safe environments.  Besides campaigns on the proper disposal of human waste and improved sanitation, safe drinking water is much more widely available, safe food preparation procedures are much more broadly understood and more people are sleeping under bed nets to reduce the occurrence of malaria.  In many places we could get water from safe pumps where the water could be drunk without extra filtering or treating.  These strides are reflected in a couple of statistics:  In 1990 the age one to five mortality was 115.  By 2008 this had drop to 71.  Life expectancy at birth in 1990 was 40 years.  By 2008 this had climbed to 48 years.

Bama-Baojibu road, Sierra Leone, Cocao treeI may not have always pick out or photographed new crops when they first appeared on the route, but I usually did both when they were present in large concentrations.  Along this section of road we started see cocoa (chocolate) trees.  While the tree originated in Central America, Ghana and Ivory Coast are now the biggest producers in the world. While Sierra Leone lags far behind these export giants, some of its cocoa is certified as 'fair trade,' which should help them get into specialty markets.

Sierra Leone, sheep being washed at the riverside.Watching a goat or sheep get washed never ceases to be amusing.  The animals never act like the 'spa day' was their choosing.  They may have an inclination that a fresh appearance is not in their best interest.  I assume that the clean-up of this sheep is in preparation for going to market. Sierra Leone, Sewa river ferry at Gendema

We were at the riverside because the road took a break at the Sewa River.  We took a break as well as we waiting for the ferry to come from the other side of the river.  It seemed that the ferry crew as taking a break as well because this required quite a bit of hollering from our side of  the river to achieve.

After the river the road followed flatter terrain.  It was relatively sparsely populated, without towns or particularly big villages.  The views continued to be a pleasing mosaic of farms, forest and villages.

Bama-Baojibu road, Sierra Leone Bama-Baojibu road, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, rubber trees These are some old rubber trees that don't appear to be actively tapped.  We passed more seemingly abandoned estates than we saw groves actively being tapped or new latex operations being developed.  The absence of any sighting or whiffs from latex processing factories would also suggest that the industry is not very active in this area at this time.

 Just as a reminder, if nothing else, they ride was just plain beautiful.Bama-Baojibu road, Sierra Leone

Boajibu, Sierra Leone, diamond buying officeThe Sewa River is one of Sierra Leone's diamond rivers.  A lot of the mining is done by dredging.  During the rainy season the river is too high to mine so we weren't able to see any actual mining being done, but occasionally we could spot some dredging equipment. We did meet a few diamond miners and heard their stories.  We were invited back in the dry season to watch the mining.  As an alternative you can search YouTube for 'Sierra Leone diamond mining' or something similar and a get a list of videos to watch that cover dredging, washing and sorting diamonds.  Diamond mining doesn't use poisonous substances like gold mining, but it still isn't environmentally benign.




 Next dispatch.



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