ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 02-04-2014, 05:44 AM   #211
garnaro OP
MotoBlunderer
 
garnaro's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Somewhere in Africa
Oddometer: 221
Freetown Sliders




Some of the most stoked surfers I’ve ever met are here at Bureh beach at the south end of Sierra Leone's Freetown peninsula. They have the bare minimum needed to surf, yet their enthusiasm for sliding on waves is undaunted and they are in the water anytime a ridable wave presents itself. They share waves, rip turns, switch stance, fall off, and shout for each other. Being in the water with these guys reminds me of learning to surf with my friends when I was 13 years old. There is no fighting for waves and no egos on display, only the stoke of learning something new every time they get in the ocean.





Sierra Leone was ripped apart during bloody civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002 well known for atrocities committed by rebel armies with large contingents of child soldiers and funded by the country’s productive diamond mines. For many in the developed world, the war in Sierra Leone entered into popular consciousness as the backdrop to the 2006 film ‘Blood Diamond’. The reality of war left a third of the population displaced, 50,000 dead, many more seriously injured or maimed. Operation ‘No Living Thing’ laid waste to Freetown. Doesn’t exactly sound like a place that you’d want to visit, right? However, this bloody episode in recent history stands in sharp contrast to what you find as a visitor to Sierra Leone. While the people and places still bear the scars of the conflict, I couldn’t imagine a friendlier, more welcoming place. Sierra Leone is now peaceful, and the economy is on the rise as people begin to discover what a great place it is to invest and to visit.








An Irish surfer named Shane O’Connor living in Freetown recently helped the local surfers start the Bureh Beach Surf Club. With his help, they are promoting surfing in Sierra Leone, training new surfers, and run a restaurant and some bungalows on the beach. As a non-profit, community-based organization, a cornerstone of the club’s business model is to use their natural resources in a sustainable way to the betterment of the entire Bureh community.









Bureh beach itself is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, with a turquoise meandering river emptying to the ocean near a rocky headland that tiny Bureh village sits upon, flanked by steep jungle covered hills. The river bar creates a pretty consistent left-hand wave and some rights that pop up here and there. The water is the absolute perfect temperature – cool enough to be refreshing, but you never get cold even after hours out in your boardshorts.





The guys here live like some romantic vision of the surfer lifestyle in California in the 1950’s. They sleep on the beach and cook communal meals together. For two weeks, I’ve made my home on their beach and shared meals with the Bureh beach surfers. They are the most welcoming surfers I’ve ever met. What little they have, they share with me and I feel honored to be their guest. The spirit of surfing is alive and well in this remote corner of West Africa and it humbles me to find it here.



Money earned by the club goes to purchase communal surfing equipment, upgrade the facilities, provides meals for the surfers working there, and into Bureh Village. They make most of what they need with simple hand tools.



Part of what they earn goes to supporting the 30 or so orphan kids in the village, many of whom lost their parents during the civil war. Seven thousand Leones (about $1.60) for each of them provides transport to and from the closest school and lunch 5 days a week. On Wednesdays and Fridays all the kids from the village come down to play and have some surf training. The beach is filled with little ones running about, dancing, singing and surfing. The energy on the beach on these days is truly joyful.






Grommets in flight:



Meet KK, the first female surfer in Sierra Leone:





This simple, slow living comes with some real hardship. The club has no electricity and there is one well with a hand pump for water. Meals are basic, consisting of mostly rice with a sauce of casaba leaf and minced fish. The cooks bring out a massive plate of the dish du jour and a pile of hungry surfers dig in.





There is nowhere to buy surfboards, leashes, or even wax in Sierra Leone and most of their equipment is delivered personally by traveling surfers from the UK and Europe. When everyone wants to surf, they take turns trading off boards. When their boards are damaged, they have no way to repair them. I spent an afternoon in Freetown looking anywhere and everywhere for some fiberglass cloth and polyester resin to no avail. Most people had no idea what I was talking about as all of the small boats here are made from wood rather than fiberglass. I added my board to the communal stock during my stay.





Shortly before I arrived, they made a trip to a left-hand pointbreak. It was the first time any of them had surfed anywhere besides their home beach, which is to say that it was the first time anyone in Sierra Leone had surfed anywhere besides Bureh beach, since they are the only surfers here. Welcome to the surfing frontier of West Africa.





Check out the Bureh Beach Surf Club on their facebook site. Donations to the club go directly to supporting a surfing community with very little means. If you happen to be traveling to Sierra Leone, bring a surfboard or a leash, or even just some surf wax!
__________________
bugsonmyboard.org
two wheeled wave hunting dispatches
garnaro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-04-2014, 09:22 AM   #212
davidbrundage
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Mar 2008
Location: costa mesa, ca
Oddometer: 149
Quote:
Originally Posted by garnaro View Post

Donations to the club go directly to supporting a surfing community with very little means. If you happen to be traveling to Sierra Leone, bring a surfboard or a leash, or even just some surf wax!
Man, I've fawned over your report once already recently, but this is seriously legendary. Keep up the excellent reporting, please!
davidbrundage is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 12:45 AM   #213
Sroz
Adventurer
 
Sroz's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: South Oztralia
Oddometer: 62
Amazing!! well done for putting your board up for the local crew! ( Did they rip on it ! :)
Sroz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 05:49 AM   #214
garnaro OP
MotoBlunderer
 
garnaro's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Somewhere in Africa
Oddometer: 221
ya, plenty of them surf it better than me.

not updated on ADV yet, but it is here:
bugsonmyboard.org
__________________
bugsonmyboard.org
two wheeled wave hunting dispatches
garnaro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 07:21 AM   #215
arjones
Roads and Waves
 
arjones's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Bahia, Brazil
Oddometer: 175
Thumb

Man, I'm speechless... yet I felt the need to congratulate you. I'm here since the very first post because I'm a surfer too. But this last post was, really, the best report I've ever read in any form of website, surfmag or whatever. This is the most intense experience I would only dream of what surfing could bring to a surfer's life. And combined with a moto travel...

You have a very good karma brother, for sure.

Ride on.

Arjones.
arjones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 08:25 AM   #216
Lacedaemon
Studly Adventurer
 
Lacedaemon's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Northern Virginia
Oddometer: 550
Quote:
Originally Posted by garnaro View Post
I added my board to the communal stock during my stay.


This inspires me to do better for more people.
Lacedaemon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 09:50 AM   #217
lakota
Geeser
 
lakota's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Annapolis MD
Oddometer: 2,842
just fabulous.
thanks for taking me along
__________________
IBA #42016

my ride reports

follow my ride

lakota is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 10:02 AM   #218
Cheeseburner
Adventurer
 
Cheeseburner's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Connecticut
Oddometer: 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by garnaro View Post
thanks! most are with a Lumix GF3 4/3 sensor camera and 14mm lens (28mm full frame equivalent). This combo is really small so it is always in my waist pack and good for wide landscape style shots.
Great choice, I've been riding around with a bulky DSLR and have found myself not taking pictures because I don't want to pull the beast out.

Switching to a 4/3 Olympus Pen soon with a 20mm 1.7, definitely the way to when traveling ligh.
Cheeseburner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 11:34 AM   #219
Shooby
Anti-Cager
 
Shooby's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2012
Location: San Diego
Oddometer: 665
Quote:
They share waves, rip turns, switch stance, fall off, and shout for each other. Being in the water with these guys reminds me of learning to surf with my friends when I was 13 years old. There is no fighting for waves and no egos on display, only the stoke of learning something new every time they get in the ocean.
That's very encouraging and uplifting. Glad to see you found a place and people representing what it should be like at all breaks.
You know, like Trestles or Swami's.....
Shooby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-05-2014, 12:00 PM   #220
MKJ
Married w/ Children
 
MKJ's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Upland, CA
Oddometer: 493
The photos with smiles tell the story. Great job!
MKJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-06-2014, 05:04 AM   #221
garnaro OP
MotoBlunderer
 
garnaro's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Somewhere in Africa
Oddometer: 221
It's a privilege to tell stories of people here. Their warmth to strangers is completely disarming. Glad to have yall along for the ride
__________________
bugsonmyboard.org
two wheeled wave hunting dispatches
garnaro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2014, 04:38 AM   #222
garnaro OP
MotoBlunderer
 
garnaro's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Somewhere in Africa
Oddometer: 221
Schools for Sweet Salone



While surfing at Bureh Beach on the south end of the Freetown Peninsula I met a Spaniard named Coco who is building schools in the remote Wara Wara mountains of Sierra Leone. He invited Tony and to come for a visit and we spent two days chasing Coco around on jungle tracks getting to know the country and people of the region.





First, we had to get his extra bike running after it had been in hibernation for a few months, so Tony and I set to work checking for fuel, air, and spark. Soon enough, we had the Honda XL125 roaring back to life and ready to roll.





Well, almost ready to roll anyway. We made a quick stop at the local garage to replace the chain ring carrier rubbers and shock bushings that had disintegrated. While there we watched the guys in the most primitive of makeshift garages yank the engine out of another XL125, which are ubiquitous in the area, and have it half disassembled in about 20 minutes. They are fantastic mechanics who can bodge together about anything that you might need from what they have on hand. The parts we needed were made on the spot from scrap rubber.





The mechanics kids ran around the place and played with their toys. By toys, I mean greasy engine parts. They can probably already rebuild a carburetor.





Midway through the morning Tony’s rear tire punctured. After patching the tube, the tire was incredibly difficult to get back onto the rim. Tires for small dirt bikes like this are usually fairly easy compared to the bigger bikes like my DR650. After much grunting, sweating, and knuckle bashing, we managed it, only to find that we’d pinched the tube with the irons in our struggle to coax the tire back onto the rim. We’d fairly mangled the tube so that it wasn’t patchable. Now we had a problem.






Coco and I set off to the next village 7 miles ahead in the blind hope of finding a tube and left Tony to contend with the heat and incessant flies. The flies were so bad that he lit a fire by the roadside, so that the smoke would keep them at bay.


As small as it was, the next village was actually the capital of the Wara Wara region, called Bafodia. Luck was with us: the single tube available in Bafodia would fit the tire. Everyone in town knew Coco from his work in the area, but they were curious about the other visitor on the big bike. There are generally no bikes bigger 150cc here, and so the DR650 always gets plenty of attention and praise from the locals. ‘This moto is strong” they proclaim. Inevitably followed by the offer, “We trade, ya?”






We returned to rescue Tony from the flies, put his bike back together and we were off again, riding deeper and deeper into the mountains. We bounced along two tracks winding through the jungle, small stream crossings, and steep rocky hill climbs. It’s no wonder Coco rides a motorbike everywhere, as crossing this terrain in a 4x4 truck would be terribly arduous. On a motorbike it's tiring, but really lots of fun. In fact, Coco’s ride to work is what most dirt riders in the US or Europe would seek to ride on weekends or longer off-road trips.









This is the old school building.



This is the new one.






I met loads of cute kids and make them giggle showing them photos of themselves.







Coco really knows how to work the people of the villages there. It would be impossible to do this work without a good understanding the culture here and a willingness to adjust plans accordingly. Everyone knows the man on the little dirt bike and shout 'Mr. Coco!' as we ride past and they project incredible warmth towards a visitor like me. Places like this are the heart of ‘Sweet Salone' as the locals affectionately refer to their country.





In a nearby village, building of the school was still in progress. Bricks were being formed, timber cut, and walls were coming up.









It takes a special type of person to do this job. Coco's work reminded me the story portrayed in the bestselling book Three Cups of Tea about an American who runs around building schools in rural Pakistan by sheer force of his own with no resources or experience to begin with. I watched Coco talk with the village councils, keep workers on task, and try to track down some bags of cement that had gone missing. He bargains for the price of materials like a local and holds everyone to account for what they are meant to deliver and keeps a positive tone throughout struggles. He acts like every dollar wasted is a dollar that the village kids miss out on. Because it is.





The people here live a simple but difficult existence and are vulnerable to disease and hunger. Some villages don’t have access to clean water. Back in California, I spent most of my working hours helping find solutions to water pollution problems. As important as those problems are, being able to work on them seems like pure luxury in comparison to the very basic need of having clean water to drink which many of these people simply don’t have.





We raced down from the mountains, eager to return to the town of Kabala for some dinner, but our bike problems weren’t finished yet for the day. Coco’s front sprocket retainer had failed, the sprocket came off and let his chain jump off of the chain ring. While we probably could have towed Coco’s bike back the 7 miles to Kabala there were a number of steep rocky sections that may have been tricky. Instead, we pushed his bike to the nearest village and met with the chief, who agreed to let us leave Coco’s bike at his place for the night.






Coco and I rode 2 up on my bike back to Kabala and returned the next morning with a new front sprocket. We repaired Coco’s bike and shot into the mountains for another round for the day. The days in these Wara Wara have been some of the most memorable of the entire trip so far.


__________________
bugsonmyboard.org
two wheeled wave hunting dispatches
garnaro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2014, 07:55 AM   #223
rms56
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Alberta, Canadia
Oddometer: 208
Cool2 amazing trip!!!!

cant get enough!!!

rms56 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2014, 09:45 AM   #224
DCrider
Live from THE Hill
 
DCrider's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Oddometer: 3,949
Wow G the stories just keep getting better, again thanks for sharing!
__________________
ADV'ing from America's fine Crapital...
DCrider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2014, 02:55 PM   #225
MKJ
Married w/ Children
 
MKJ's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Upland, CA
Oddometer: 493
You thought you were going for a surf, and then.....................
MKJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 10:38 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014