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

  Dispatch 12 - Freetown  

Kent-FREETOWN (50km, 31 miles)

Points of interest: : Government Wharf, Slave Steps, The Gateway to the Old Kings Yards, Big Market, National Museum, St John's Maroon Church, Cottonwood Tree, The Courts, Clock Tower.

Cycling conditions: paved, rolling


Sierra Leone, John Obey Beach Sierra Leone, John Obey Beach

In Sierra Leone, along the coast, beautiful beaches seem to be as common as lush forests are in the interior of the country.  The beach above is John Obey Beach.

The British legacy continues with the next town after Kent being York.  To the left is Saint Henry's Church, in York.




Sierra Leone, Toke, cell phone antenna tower The modern icon around the country is cell phone antenna towers.  The is no electric power grid or land lines telephones, but the cell phone coverage in the country is excellent.

Sierra Leone, Toke village and Toke beachOn the development theme, the photo to the left is looking north to Tokey (or Toke) village and Tokey beach.  There are plans a foot for an Africana Tokey Village destination beach resort. The ad copy for the resort is great, "As the sun goes down, Sierra Leone offers its romantic side. Intimate restaurants illuminated by an African moon reflected in the tranquil ocean offers some of the best local and international cuisine in West Africa... all presented with Sierra Leonean √©lan."  And there is more. The text describes "The road from Freetown to Tokey and around the Peninsular to Waterloo Town is now first class double lane tarred road."

Toke-Freetown Road, Sierra Leone Just past the access road to Tokey, we had a rude awakening when the nice pavement we expected to enjoy abruptly ended and continued as a narrow undulating dirt road about as wide as a truck.  In fact, a couple of kilometers (about a mile) down the road a truck had broken down and was completely blocking the road -- except for two-wheeled vehicles.  It did have the effect of eliminating most of the other traffic on the road.

Lumley-Toke road construction project After six kilometers (3 1/2 mile) of narrow road (two kilometers down range as the crow fly), just north of #2 River,  we emerged on a wide 25 kilometer (15 miles) long constructions project that continued all the way to Lumley.  [Evidence at both ends of the narrow road suggest that when the project is finished there will be a new bridge across #2 River and the road will follow the two-kilometer alignment between #2 River and Tokey.]

Sierra Leone, beach between Goderich and Lumley Sierra Leone, beach between Goderich and Lumley

Perhaps because the road environment was so horrendous (hzardous, dusty and noisy) the beach between Goderich and Lumley (above) was a major pedestrian thoroughfare.  The was a lot of other activity as well like soccer games, fishing and general exercise.

Sierra Leone, Freetown-Lumley hills residential area Sierra Leone, Freetown-Lumley hills residential area

Lumley and Freetown reach from the shoreline up into the foothills of the Peninsula Mountains.  There is an abundance of view property on all sides of the north end of the peninsula.  With this, Freetown has a potential that is unique to among the cities of West Africa.

As you approach the center of Freetown the traffic gets so 'bad' that it become good for bicycling.  Locals remark about being stuck in traffic jams for hours.  It is easy to believe but it wasn't our experience.  Generally the roads are wide enough that even with bumper-to-bumper traffic there is a clear alley along the side that is wide enough to accommodate a bicyclists.  Sometimes we also had to share it with pedestrians, carts and motorcycles, so we had to be alert, but it was far fast travel than was being experience by those in the next lane over.

As is so often the case, once in the heart of the city, the best way to explore and feel the rhythm of the town, was on foot.  On our morning wandering of downtown we  past:

Susan Bay from off Malama Thomas St.

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Grand mosque The Grand Mosque

Sierra Leone, Freetown, the old bus station The old bus station

The Government Wharf

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Methodist Church The Methodist Church

Sierra Leone, Freetown, The Big Market The Big Market

Building near the Big Market

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Connaught Hospital Connaught Hospital

Sierra Leone, Freetown, National Museum, exhibit of helmet masks The National Museum (exhibit of helmet masks)

(Note: the helmet mask in the left side bar is from the Bundu (a.k.a Sandi) Society (women's group) of the traditional religion.)

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Cottonwood tree The Cottonwood tree

Sierra Leone, Freetown, courts The Supreme Court

Sierra Leone, Freetown, former convent A former convent

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Methodist church Another Methodist Church

Merchants on Siaka Stevens St. (named after a former President)

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Rawdon StreetSierra Leone, Freetown, Rawdon StreetMerchants and vendors on Rawdon Street stretch from from one end to the other. On the sales block are sun glasses, shoes, belts, purses, socks, pants, shirts, dresses, books, rubber stamps, watches, jewelry, electronic goods, soap, perfume, vegetables, ice cream, soft drinks, and all sorts of other knick-knacks.  Paradoxically, you can't find a restaurant serving breakfast with ten blocks.

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Rawdon Street Sierra Leone, Freetown, Rawdon StreetOn Rawdon Street park car are transformed into display rack and almost every other square meter is turned into a sales space.

 Sierra Leone, Freetown, Free Street Free Street

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Free Street Free Street

and the Clock Tower

With the bicycles, the most accommodating transportation across the mouth of the Sierra Leone River to Lungi is the ferry.  With the crossing and 15 kilometers of road, we made it full circle.




 Next dispatch.



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