Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Safe" ferry ride home...

So, why did I take the ferry? Well, it was the only way to cross the river to Freetown. Is it safe? Well, I’ll let you decide...

Someone had arranged for the shuttle company to meet me at the airport, which they did. Once another passenger and I were seated in the van, we drove, very speedily I might add (welcome back to Africa), to the ferry terminal. We heard that only 1 ferry (out of 2) was running which meant chaos; everyone trying to get onto 1 ferry. So much for the little safety there is. Anyway, at the terminal it was hectic; cars, people, luggage, yelling, screaming, arguing, running. There was no room for our van on the ferry but fortunately the shuttle company had another van that had made it onto the ferry. So after some persuading we were allowed to walk onto the ferry with our luggage and join up with the other van.

Once on the ferry I had to find a place to stand. Not so easy, even though I had a first class ticket in hand. As I approached the first class lounge all I could see was a room full of bodies, all I could hear was a blaring tv, all I could smell was sweat and all I could feel was heat. I wasn’t even going to attempt to find a spot. I was advised to go to the top deck. Well, that wasn’t much better. There were people everywhere. As I stood by the railing at the top of the steps I got a near-panic attack and thought ‘if this ferry goes down, I’m going to have hundreds of people pulling me down with it’. That’s when I saw a huge box with “Life Jackets” written on it and wondered if there was even anything in the box. I suddenly didn’t feel safe at all and thought I better go downstairs again. So, I ended up standing near the car deck on the little passageway by the railing. I was relieved to have at least a square foot of space to myself.

My view to the left was about 30-40 cars crammed onto the deck, with maybe a foot in between the cars at all sides, people either sitting on the cars or trying to climb over them to get up to the deck, women walking around trying to sell peanuts, juice, water, cigarettes, men handing out flyers to concerts, children tied onto their moms backs etc. My view to the right was of the river, with the sun setting over the water. Chaos versus peace. Talk about 2 totally different pictures!

The craziest thing that happened took place as we pulled away from the dock. First of all, they almost forgot to let one of the lines loose as we were pulling away. Then while we were only inches away from the dock, someone lowered a 5 year old girl onto the dock who, understandably, started crying the instant her feet touched the ground. There was a lot of confusion as to whether or not she was supposed to be on the ferry or on the ground. Within seconds the ferry was about a meter away from the dock and I was hoping they wouldn’t try to pull her back up. They didn't. A 10 year old boy was summoned from the terminal to come and get the girl, which he did. And hopefully she made it home safely well. All I could think was ‘only in Sierra Leone’.

When we got to the Freetown side things remained chaotic; people everywhere, baskets of goods on the ground, little children running around, cars trying to inch their way out of the terminal, the sound of honking horns. Fortunately I found my shuttle van quickly and after waiting in traffic for another 20 minutes, we were on our way. To the safety of my compound.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

lol interested indeed. but you are right, only in sierra leone. This is why I love this country so much alwasy going on, such beauty in the country and then so many harsh realities. I see so much potential in SL and it's people. someday it will indeed be a place everyone wants to go to. Why don't you think about Staying the night at a hotel in Lungi, they hotels are pretty safe, with security guards all around. then the next morning you can take the ferry across and it will not be packed and you can actually sit in First Class and enjoy your ride.
shiek
juniorcatco@yahoo.com

Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cheap ferries said...

Check out norfolkline's official site for details on cheap ferries and other offers.

prom dover said...

Hey! its amazing holding a first class promy ticket in hand, you required to struggled for place to stand. Yours was really a "'Sage' ferry ride home".
Thanks for sharing your travel experience.

Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashley said...

I heard there are great offers on Dover ferries. If it is so, let me know what are all the amazing offers available on these channel ferries en-route to France?

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