Just a brief update as I am literally kneeling in front of a trash-can which functions as a makeshift desk while I am editing images and writing this log entry. I am back in West Africa and yes, it's about Ebola again. But it's a totally different pace this time. I've spent a whole week on the road traveling rural districts and slept in bush hotels. Almost cried when I entered my room in the Hub Hotel in Freetown - amazingly clean and nice. First time in a week I had a shower without feeling unconformable stepping on the floor afterwards. After I was done working with SOS Kinderdorf I was embedded with burial teams in Zone 2 - that means Freetown and the surrounding area. What a horrible but important job theses guys are doing. They’ve been picking up dead bodies in the slums of Freetown all day - almost all of them suspected to have died of Ebola. Once their truck was packed with body bags we moved on to the cemetery - a massive graveyard especially for Ebola fatalities. What a sad place to work at.
On my last day in Freetown I’ve visited the Burial Team Training and talked to some of the men who applied to become a member of these units about their motivation. “Ebola is like a war and I want to fight for my country” one 21 year old man said to me. He probably has no clue what's waiting for him out there. Waving goodbye to the team I was working with the last days I continued to meet Fonti, a 40-year old survivor of Ebola who hast lost both children and his wife to the disease. He himself survived Ebola and can’t infect himself anymore for at least a couple of months (no exact numbers at that time). He now works at a Ebola Treatment Center.
Way back to the airport, Pelican ferry at 11pm. People watching Champions League (Arsenal vs. Dortmund, Arsenal won) while waiting. Still 33°C and 50% humidity. I stopped caring about sweating, got used to feeling sticky. Still no confirmation of my UNHAS flight back to Liberia. No idea how to get to the airport hotel upon arrival past midnight. The thought of arriving in a rural area after a one hour ferry ride packed with my gear - not something I looked forward to.
In the end I’ve became friends with one of the luggage guys working at the ferry… after chatting about Bayern Munich and soccer they called some friends who would pick me up in Lungi where the boat arrives and take me to the airport hotel. Sounded not really trustworthy but what were my options anyway? So I went on the ferry and rushed through the bay to the Island (?) where the airport is located. 15 minutes through pitch black night with salt water spraying into the ship every now and then and occasional stops due to engine problems. TIA - This is Africa.
I spent the night at the Airport Hotel in Lungi. Got my old room, met the same cockroaches I left alive last time and fell asleep - at least for a few hours until I had to get up again. Way back to Monrovia. My UN flight was supposed to fly at 9am. Usually you have to be there two hours in advance. But when I arrived at 7am I found nothing but a tumbleweed at the airport. Even the immigration desks were empty - so I was stuck there with no phone connection (as my Liberian phone stopped working) and no internet to check details. The security staff that showed up told me to wait, so I did.. for hours. 9am - still no passengers, no UN personnel. I started to get nervous. Finally I found someone to borrow their phone from so I could call the liaison officer in Kenya and guess what: The flight has been re-scheduled to 1300. The UN has sent me a mail minutes after I’ve left the hotel and therefor of course I didn’t get it. So I’ve spent 5 hours at the Airport, made new friends with the staff and killed time by watching African TV shows in Creol on flatscreens mounted to the walls turned to max. volume for no audience but me. Awesome! I’m starting to develop a little Africa fatigue. I mean I love this country for it’s “easy going” mentality but after 16 years of frequent work over here it sometimes starts killing me… boarding my flight now. Farewell, Sierra Leone!