Sunday, November 22, 2009

From Bintimani - March 1969

My prior postings about my two treks to Bintimani (in March 1969 and again in March 1970) can be found on this and my other site on my Peace Corps days. As I look through and try to salvage my old pictures from that period in my life I came across this view from the top. Bintimani was a peak in the Loma Mountains in the northeast portion of Sierra Leone. Our "base camp" where we placed our tent was in the grass patch seen below. From there it was an hour or so to the top - with the last section somewhat steep (not technically steep) and requiring walking on all fours. From the top it seemed like one could see forever. The air was cool and from time to time you were in the clouds. I remember the silence as I looked off in all directions marveling at the spectacular views in every direction. To this day I remember vividly the feelings I had up top. Here I was in this most remote section of the country, high up on top of the highest mountain range in West Africa (outside of Mt. Cameroon), for the first time in many months the air was cool and non-tropical, and I was as far away from where I was from as is imaginable. I remember feeling how far away I felt from my roots in Brookline. I remember marveling at how very quiet it was up there - I could hear the wind, I could feel it on my sweaty face, I could see the clouds fly by. Here I was a foreigner seeing this view that few others had seen. I think the Sierra Leoneans puzzled at these Peace Corps treks into the mountains. They traveled mountain paths for more of a purpose then ours. Here we were hiking up Bintimani only to experience the feelings and views from the summit. Perhaps Sierra Leoneans did not have this luxury, at least most didn't. I am sure that there were some from the villages below who in traversing the mountains took time to "smell the roses." However I think this may have been rare. The daily grind of life did not permit such luxuries on a regular basis. But for me, I had heard and read about the Loma Moutains early in our Peace Corps training. I had spoken to earlier volunteers who had made the trek and spoke glowingly of their experience. For me it was a "must do," and my two trips (each a week long) were very satisfying even despite how very ill I was after my first trip (with malaria and hepatitis). Perhaps even more meaningful were the side experiences in the villages and with the people who were so very kind to us. It is now nearly 40 years since I hiked Bintimani but my many fine memories remain vivid. I would do another trip again in a heartbeat.


Jenkins said...

Chad; I thank you for yor service toour beloved Sierra Leone. At the time you were in Kenema I was a a school boy attending primary school.

I have lived in Boston for the the 29 years. I amnot sure if you have returned to Sierra Leone since you left. Things were a lot better when you were there, and even before I left in 1980.

Could you believe that in the 70s, Sierra Leone's currency the Leone was worth more than the dollar?

I have great admiration and respect for you and your wife and all peace corp volunteers who served to help people in far away places.

As for me I am living with my wife and family comfortably in West Wareham Massachusetts. My older daughter is a freshman at Brandeis University.

I was looking for my former Physics teacher at Holy Trinity Sec. School when found you blog about Sierra Leone.

Salone been sweet before pass now.
The pictures you posted remind me of the good old days.

Stay blessed.

Mohamed J. Bawoh

helen said...

My purpose in doing my blg site is two fold. One is to retrieve my many photos that unfortunately are now fading due to age - and in the same vein retrieve the many wonderful memories that I have of wonderful people and wonderful times. I so very much enjoyed my years in Salone!

Massachusetts was my home state - but I left it in 1968 and have not returned - We now live in Vermont - not too far away.

One of the best parts of my sites on Sierra Leone are communications like yours. For me this makes it all worth while.

Thanks you for commenting and please pass the sites on to anyone that you think might find it interesting. I ill be adding new pictures soon