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

  Dispatch 8 - Blama  

Boajibu-BLAMA (40km, 25 miles)  Relative to the last couple of day, Kenema is civilization.

Points of interest: the affluence of Kenema

Cycling conditions: dirt, rolling, the last section is paved


Between the villages and towns there was still considerable forest and frequent stream (left).  In general the terrain was flatter than further north.  The forestsorghum and millet (left) amidst the rice farming. were broken up by farms.  The micro climate, soil, and /or agricultural tradition must be a little different in this region because there was a little more variety in the agriculture, including cassava, sorghum and millet (right) amidst the rice farming.

hair braiding process braided hair

Here we learn that there are a couple of different approaches to siesta:

1) take advantage of the down time and get your hair braided (photos left and right),



siestasiestaor 2) take advantage of the down time and literally get down (photos left and right), 


or 3) go for a walk around the village and forest and take pictures of the trees, orchids and epiphytes.

tree with epiphytesepiphytes in a treeWe had traveled from a Temne to a Mende area. Walking around the village the people were equally welcoming but seemed more reserved in their manners and voice -- the kids had stopped screaming "white man, white man" when we arrived in villages.

After siesta we moved on again.

Blama, building with a fresh coat of paintBack in the 1960's there was a railroad from Freetown to Blama.  It carried passengers and agricultural products like palm oil.  The trains ceased running decades ago but you can still identify where the tracks came though town and there are still a few building that were associated with the railroad.  More recently the undoing of the Blama economy was the civil war.  The are still a lot of buildings that are locked-up / boarded up, missing roofs and generally in disrepair.  But there are also buildings actively under repair and a few buildings with a fresh coat of paint.  Blama, coffee and cocao buying officeGone are the diamond buyers, but the competitive number coffee and cocoa buying offices would indicate that these are primary income generators for the community.  As I chatted with a produce buyer a man walked into town with a bag on his head.  The produce buyer quickly approached the man with the bag and asked if he had coffee or cocoa for sell.  In this case the answer was "no". 

One of the building under repair is suppose to become a computer / Internet center, which indicates some entrepreneur expects an increase in disposable income in the community.

Still pretty low-key in the middle of the afternoon, the busiest business in town was the "entertainment center" / bar / guest house.  A crowd had gathered to watch the television (mostly sports programming), but very few of the patrons had drinks on their tables.




 Next dispatch.



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