I went to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which was very interesting. The facility rehabilitates chimps that have been too close to humans. The people certainly have their heart in the right place, but it's worth noting they haven't intentionally returned any to the wild. Four escaped in 2006, led by a chimp named Bruno in a wild story that culminated with the death of a local. Pretty scary actually. No one knows what happened to Bruno, he's quite the local legend. He's also a legend with people who worked on the embassy construction project because a construction worker was one of the people attacked (he survived).
I also went to Lakka Beach where we had fresh lobster, and I do mean fresh. See below for before and after shots.
|We had to ask for butter, so we were feeling pretty sorry for ourselves.|
I got a lot of time with the embassy drivers, and I asked one if a local rock splitting legend I'd heard about was true - he said it was. He said his friend's uncle happened to be an expert and he explained how it works. If you don't have enough money to remove a large rock mechanically (with an excavator), you can hire a local expert like the uncle who will bring kerosene, a piece of tire, and some tinder. He'll light the tire on the rock and let it burn for 2-3 days to heat the rock. He'll come back, clear off the fire, and pour water on it. The rock will crack, the expert will get the rock started, and laborers finish the job. I saw this in action several times in different places back and forth to work, one in a new road being built and another in the foundation of a new small building going up. I think it's a rather ingenious idea.
Back to the driver's story, I asked if his friend's uncle was still doing this. He said, "Now he is REALLY old, so he does not do it anymore." I felt like the 20-something driver was baiting me, so I intentionally took it and said, "What do you mean by 'REALLY old'? Like 40?" He smiled and said, "No, no - 50." Now before anyone takes offense, remember the life expectancy in Sierra Leone is currently about 57 (in the US it's 79).
Some Americans say living in that part of the world is also called "going on the West African diet". Well, I didn't think I was going out of my way to eat less, but sure enough, I lost several pounds over the trip. Now that I'm back in DC, I can work on getting back to my pre-trip cubicle weight. The holidays came just in time!
(This post written while listening to Paul Simon You Can Call Me Al.)