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Game, Set, Match, and more juxtapositions- Sierra Leone Part 4

In Humanitarian Response, International Development, Sierra Leone on April 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

22 February 2015 7:00pm, Freetown, Sierra Leone, from a colleague’s house

Winding down my weekend here in Freetown. I got a taste of the old life my colleagues are hanging on to here. I got to play tennis with the two best players in Sierra Leone, which was a hot sweaty mess for me but still really fun. I’m a decent enough player, but it’s been a while since my better days playing for my college team. I have a kick serve and I’m tall, that’s about it. These guys were really great players: one big and very strong with great speed and a fluid one-handed backhand, the other smaller but craftier, with incredible hands who could hit any spot from any angle at any time. They get some support from the International Tennis Federation, but like most of Sierra Leone, most things are on hold because anything fun that would attract a crowd isn’t happening, including school, sporting events, movies, restaurants, bars. We rotated playing doubles, my colleague and I actually took one of the sets from them, although apparently they hold back a bit to keep it competitive, I guess they could have creamed us if they were being serious. It was still fun.

This morning, I met an old grad school friend for a brunch at the Radisson hotel, the main super huge hotel, it was crawling with hundreds of expatriates, mostly from the CDC, WHO, and several other Health-related NGO staff that would need to be close to each other to collaborate. This is now a typical experience for me, being in a shockingly nice place in a shockingly poor country. Afterwards, I moved on to another shockingly nice place with a slightly swanker vibe, called “The Hub” hotel, they have a really nice pool, I’m told that’s where a lot of the UN people stay. There were some very euro-looking sunbathers. Some people that showed up to sit with my colleagues and I were going on and on about the party scene. I was trying to remain moderately interested but it was a struggle, maybe I’ve aged out of that… who knows.

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