Ah, Christmas; a time for giving, sharing, for thinking of far-flung friends etc.
I don’t expect to be receiving any cards over here this festive season, particularly as I’ve still never seen a postman. (Although a bloke who lives nearby can often be seen sporting a cast-off Royal Mail top).
However, there is one small item on my Christmas list to you all. In response to numerous kind comments about my tales of a family bumbling their way through a stint in Africa, I’ve entered Home Salone (the name of this blog, ICYMI) in this year’s UK Blog Awards.
If you’ve found it entertaining, amusing, nice to look at, or just plain feel sorry for us, then please vote for Home Salone in the Lifestyle and Travel sections.
The public vote will decide which blogs make the shortlist for next April’s awards. You have until December 19 to vote by clicking onto my voting page at this link. Oh, and tell yer mates.
In return (and in lieu of cards this year), my gift to you – with Yuletide felicitations from myself, The One With The Common Sense, and the Flump – is a fabulous list of 10 More Things You Didn’t Know About Sierra Leone*.
1. There’s a place called “I don’t care.” Actually, it’s named Adonkia. However, it you ask a local with a thick Krio accent where they live, don’t be surprised if they tell you: “Ah-dohn-caya.”
2. People walking goats on leads is not an unusual sight. But you rarely see anyone walking a dog. While canines are left to fend and forage for themselves, it seems the kids are alright. Except, thinking about it, they’re probably being led to slaughter.
3. White people are often mistaken for being Chinese. I’d read about this but not experienced it until I saw some kids who live down the road doing Hong Kong Phooey-style chops in front of the car.
4. Rules and regulations, while mind-bogglingly difficult to find on the web, are often spelled out (in tiny writing) on enormous advertisement hoardings at the side of the road.
5. Banners from British hoardings often find a new life as waterproof coverings for Salonean truck trailers. I’ve seen old promotional messages for Barclaycard and the First Great Western rail franchise reincarnated in this way.
6. “Sorry” has a different meaning. Rather than a personal apology, it tends to be used as an expression of sympathy. For example, banging my head on a barber’s low doorframe prompted a chorus of “sorry, sorry, sorry” from staff and customers alike.
7. Police are paid part of their salary in rice. Some 12,800 bags, each weighing 50kg, are supplied to officers every month. I think I read this made up the largest single expenditure on the Sierra Leone Police force. Soldiers and correctional services staff similarly receive rice each month.8. Men hold hands in the street and it would be wrong to read anything into that. Lingering handshakes take a little while to get used to but – despite an otherwise macho outlook – men here hold hands with friends in just the way schoolboys might.
9. Roundabouts work differently. For a start, they’re called turntables. But rather than having right of way while you’re already on the roundabout, it’s customary to stop to allow traffic on to the island, particularly if they are massive trucks giving no thought to stopping.
10. It’s Christmas every day. As this wall, painted like this year-round, demonstrates.