From Sierra Leone, Marina Goldman Brings Back Sad and Sweet

Marina Goldman is a nurse practitioner from Montague who spends a lot of time in the faraway country of Sierra Leone.  Besides my travel webmaster friend Andy the Hobo Traveler, who phoned in from Ivory Coast last week, nobody I know goes to West Africa and nobody but Marina is as lucid and as passionate when she writes about this forlorn country as she is. Ever since I first discovered her blog I’ve been after her to write for GoNOMAD.

She sent me a draft last week and while much of it won’t work as travel writing, it was poignant enough that I printed it out and shared it with Devorah, who read it as eagerly as I did. Below is part of her narrative, describing her deep love for Africa.

“It all came back to me, this deep love, in elemental Africa; earth, air, fire and water. The diesel filled air is dissipated by the harmattan winds as they sweep off the Sahara desert stirring up the red dirt from the dry season mixing with the smoke from the cooking fires and the burning of the uplands being prepared for next year’s rice crop.

This red earth coats every orafice of my body. I find it in my ears, my nose–it cakes my throat. I have never understood the meaning of the word ‘parched’ until now. I have no patience to to wait for the well and the iodine tablets or bottled water. I suck ginger beer from a plastic bag.

It’s a grueling five hours on bad roads, people line the streets every fifty miles or so setting up road blocks to pay for their crazy New Year’s parties. Drunken people, cows, goats and children are in the streets. Mohammed is an excellent driver but it’s dark and he’s tired from climbing the hill. We run over at least two chickens and pass many swerving vehicles piled high with people, petrol cans and luggage. I cringe in the back seat pushed into Kanko’s injured leg with every jerk of the vehicle. She sits perfectly still, yet clearly not enjoying her first ride in a car and her first trip out of the village.”

Read more of Marina’s blog, “Going to Sierra Leone.”