Our expat experience – the last word

I don’t suppose you ever completely know what you’re heading into when you move abroad but it’s fair to say we hadn’t the first idea.

As I look back to those first days in Sierra Leone, I struggle to remember how I kept the Flump entertained through those long days with only a few books and the odd toy, and nothing so much as an electric fan to temper the searing March heat


Keeping hydrated was our prime concern early on

It must go down as one of the most challenging times in my life. We had so few possessions, no reliable means of transport, uncertainty over the arrival of our freight and, unsurprisingly, doubts as to the wisdom our choice.

It was tough at the time but we just blamed ourselves for being a bit feeble. Besides, wasn’t it our own fault if we were ill-prepared?

Anyway, how could we complain when a short walk outside would reveal how tough life really could get? Continue reading

Finally, farewell

It might be five weeks since we left its shores but only now can I say we’ve truly left Sierra Leone.

Of course, the emotional ties – to places, friends and former colleagues – remain. But the thing that’s kept our minds well and truly anchored to Freetown is physical: a 45kv generator and the bloody great, off-white lump of rusting metal it’s encased in.20160409_133110

Until yesterday, it was still sitting outside our former back kitchen window swaddled in/held together by a big blue tarp. And that meant our watchmen were still sitting out front, “guarding” it, as though any old petty thief could stroll in and pinch something that took 10 men an entire afternoon to manually heave from the front gate.

I don’t have details of how they managed to shift the great hulk. The canopy was twice the size of the generator, which was big enough to power a small office, and arrived by crane from the back of a lorry. But we’re informed it has left the premises.

So now we can pay our watchmen their final wages, hand the landlord back his keys and repay the interest-free loan we had to take from The One With The Common Sense’s employer to cover the cost of the sodding thing (along with an entire year’s rent) in the first place. Continue reading