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Sierra Leone News: Sundays truly are a day for relaxing

As someone who has been busy and stressed about my university duties for the last four years, the weekends were often reserved for making up lost study time or trying to get ahead on upcoming work. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve had more time on my hands to do what I want, and my first Sunday in Sierra Leone truly allowed me to ease my mind and relax better than I have in many months.
I began the day by sleeping in until past 9:00 a.m. and, aside from a trip to the bathroom upstairs and a quick breakfast in the hostel dining room, I didn’t leave my room until the afternoon. The lack of traffic noises outside my window—the only sounds I could hear outside was singing from a church a block away and the heavy rain pelting the metal rooftops below my window—made it easy for me to relax in my bed. There, I read two chapters of my book (The Journals of Lewis and Clark) and watched a few episodes of an American TV show (Rick and Morty).
By one in the afternoon, the rain had stopped and my appetite had increased. Earlier on in the week, I was invited by my editor’s to go to his home for lunch, so I got dressed and headed in his direction.
I didn’t have to take many steps inside the homely compound before I smelled the food being prepared. While the aroma primarily consisted of wood smoke from the fire, the smells of marinated chicken and fried rice also wafted my way, causing my mouth to water. Of course, in classic Salone fashion, the food would not be ready for well over an hour, so I had to find a way to occupy my time. Luckily, I had the World Cup match between Spain and Russia, as well as conversations with my editor and his son, to keep me entertained.
Lunch—consisting of fried rice, barracuda, chicken, and coleslaw—was ready right as the second half started. Surrounded by good company, tremendous food, cool air conditioning, and a rousing football match, the next hour couldn’t have been improved in any way.
Once the match and lunch were finished, I left my editor’s home and returned to mine to prepare to go to the beach to play in my first games of African football. Along the way, I saw no less than three groups of kids playing kicking around a ball in the streets.
Upon arriving at the beach, the breeze washed over my body. Once I started playing, the combination of the wind and the slight drizzle kept me cool and comfortable. As for my talents on the ball, there was a noticeable amount of discomfort, at least at first. Playing with a waterlogged ball on the sloped sand, which varied in how much water washed up onto it, was tough to adjust to. The different types of trash, large and small, that the tide brought onto the sandy playing surface added another element to be aware of. For someone who grew up playing soccer on flat grass fields (and excelling at it to some degree), I understood the game and could connect passes well, but the precision of my touch on the ball was off. It took some getting used to and, after an hour or so of playing games, I had improved a great amount.
Regardless of my level of play, I had a fine time at the beach.
The other players and people I met were all very nice and inclusive, as I’ve grown to know is quite common throughout Sierra Leone, and the drinks and kebab that I indulged in postgame were delicious.
I concluded my Sunday by visiting with a friend at his home, hanging out with his family while they graciously served me a bowl of rice and crab with a sauce made from casava leaf. Although it was a bit spicy for my taste, it was very generous of the family to offer their food to me and it gave me the energy to get back home, wash myself, and get into bed for a full night’s rest to conclude an action-packed first week in Sierra Leone.
Jack Russillo is an intern from the University of Washington who will be writing for Awoko through the end of September.
By Jack Russillo
Tuesday July 03, 2018.

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