Book 2, Chapter 10

Robertsport is beautiful.

It's an echo of Freetown - half perched on the hillside of a peninsula.

Beautiful ocean on one side, a sort of wetlandish expanse on the other.

I'm staying here today. I need a break.

Heading into the guts of the village to grab some breakfast, I notice that the building-material-of-choice has changed; from mud huts and thatched roofs to corrugated iron everything.

It must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time...

None of it has stood up to time itself thought...

The whole village has a rusted, derelict, seen-better-days feel to it.

Something that hasn’t changed is the love of Celine Dion... Honestly, just, what??

I listen to "My Heart Will Go On" while I get down a big breakfast of rice, beans and fish.

Time. To. Wander...

I accidentally run into the local fish market, down by the banks of the wetlands. Everyone is firing up huge smoking vats made out of, you guessed it, corrugated iron, in preparation for the fishing boats coming back.

While they wait some are working, some are chilling and some are dancing to the usual Africa pop music garbage that’s starting to drive me insane. So terrible and catchy all at once. It’s the same three or four songs, everywhere I go, all the time (except for Celine, of course).

It's maddening.

Anyway, one of the young dancers has baby strapped to her back, like, a baby-baby. Tiny little thing. The mum's dancing like a maniac. The baby's head is lolling and rolling around all over the place. It's fast asleep. Either that or it’s dead... Bloody hell. I want to step in and say something, because the mum can’t see what’s happening, what, with the kid behind her and all... But how is that my place? No one else seems to mind, or think that it's weird...

It’s something that I have noticed before, that they aren’t particularly precious about their infant kids in this part of the world; they just strap them onto their backs and life goes on as usual. And the kids; you never hear a peep from them, let alone crying. They just sit there in their little makeshift sling, like little baby koalas, head poking out one end and their tiny little feet poking out at the mum’s sides, eyes wide open, happy to watch the world go by. Like contented tiny yogis.

Something to learn there, I think... Yet would I do the same if I had kids? Fuck no.

Anyway, the fishing boats are coming in; big colourful wooden pirogues, they fly massive flags of all different designs. The fishermen’s clothes are hanging out to dry on lines strung up to the flag pole.

It’s like a Liberian mardi gras, and these are the floats, powered along by tiny little outboard motors.

Word around the traps is that it was a pretty average day for fishing. Could've fooled me; there’s a shitload of fish being offloaded.

The younger fishermen are still bubbly enough after their morning's work to have a chat.

There's a deal though; they'll have a chat, but only if I take their photo doing gangster poses in front of the boat...

I'll make that deal.

One of the fishermen is telling me about the work, and I’m following him, but then he suddenly switches to Creole, and I'm completely lost.

The official language in Liberia is English, but amongst themselves they - like the Sierra Leoneans - speak a “Creole”. Creole is its own language, but it could probably be better thought of like a dialect of English; kind of like English words with a lot of slang phrasing and words thrown in. I can hear the words, but I can never make any meaning out of it. Kind of like talking to a Jamaican, but impossible.

I apologise to the fisherman, and tell him I don't understand Creole yet.

He gives me a blank look.

"I was speaking English..."

"You didn't change to Creole halfway??"


Fuck! More offence.

I apologise profusely.

How embarrassing.

Fuck me I could do with some subtitles...

I extricate myself as subtly as possible, and make a beeline to the beach at the tip of the peninsula to watch the day go by.

Oblivious | Luke Gelmi