So, The Performers Without Borders (PeWiBo) team arrived at Heathrow on a cold, rainy and grey January morning- half asleep and probably a little apprehensive about our tour to a country none of us had ever travelled to- labelled by the media as having a colourful and complicated recent past. I, Livi (or Grandma), provide the team with the basic essentials of a PWB tour- Drumstick lollies and squeakers. We then met Uncle Harold the pilot- Emma’s magical uncle who wiggled us 3 free air tickets to and from Sierra Leone- Thank you BA. Not only did that help us keep our volunteer contributions low, but we also got upgraded to world traveller plus- allowing us to squeak our way in excitement and comfort to Africa. I’m sure we were very popular with the other passengers on the flight! We even got to preach our message to the co-pilot who came for a little chat about the wonderful work that PWB do.
Our arrival in Africa soon brought us back down to earth, when only half of our bags made it with us to Sierra Leone! Luckily all the hoops arrived, and all my bags. So for our first day everyone dressed as Livi, except for Tim…I think the girls were happy my bags arrived and not his. After waiting for 1.5 hours at the airport in a ‘queue’ of angry Africans, we were introduced to the concept of ‘Africa Time’ very abruptly and realised that our punctuality had to be replaced by smiles and patience- and of course, we were the last to leave the airport. Once the bags were sorted by the friendly airport staff Baibai, our Save the Children representative, helped us find our way out of Lungi International Airport to a small coach and made our way to the river estury to get to Freetown. It was such a relief to have my toes in the sand once again, and being surrounded by palm trees made me feel surprisingly like I was at home! We were stuffed onto a small boat, tied to a small jetty in very choppy waters- two of our team felt extremely sea sick and were glad to be on the move. Once at the other end we were met by a smiling Peachy and car to drive the bumpy road up to our home from home the save the children compound. We were welcomed by Clare and the three puppies living here. After some rare and amazing veggie chili- Veggie dishes being usually out of the African cuisine- and acclimatising to the heat (great after leaving England mid-winter) we settled down for our first African sleep.
Our first day involved a preliminary meeting discussing the details of the tour and what acts we would contribute to our fundraiser on the 25th January. For the first time in PWB history, we also had to take into account our local PeWiBo performers, who would be joining us on tour and we were all very excited to meet them! We the other half of the team at Cue bar, a bar/gym combo on the beach where the touch rugby team meets every week. After an awkward minute or two we were comparing both the differences and similarities in performing lifestyles from either country- Can be amazing what a passion for performance gives you in common!
Our first weekend before Bootcamp involved a welcome party at Cockle Point- a beautiful, secluded beach with a fantastic view, quite different from the hustle and bustle in the city of Freetown. We enjoyed a day of swimming in the sea before settling down to a group meal with a selection of local friends, other ex-pats working for charity, travellers and locals. Peachy set up a DJ booth with fairy lights and his new speakers (RA-style) and we performed our first show together as a team- some enjoyed their first fire performance on a beach in Sierra Leone- something to remember! It was great to show everyone and each other our skills and the team bonded with sharing dance styles and the Sierra leone dance anthems like ‘chop my money’. Everyone slowly crept to bed, leaving the last few to enjoy some late night reggae under the full moon-yes mate- thank god for the mini-rigs J. The morning was met with a welcomed cool swim to sooth the inevitable doxycycline burn from the day before followed by a lazy day of amusing card games and relaxing by the sea. By the time we arrived home we were all relaxed and acclimatised to the heat and ready for a 8.30 start for Bootcamp the next day.
Written by Livi Little