The Casablanca airport looks like any other European airport, but though the girls working there are clearly Moroccan, the men could easily be confused for Italians. Unfortunately, though overall quite efficient, getting through customs and immigration for departure was awfully slow.
Because of the sizable Sierra Leonean population in the UK, flights on BMI, around Christmas, going against the flow, come at a discount. Flying at the right times will get you from Freetown to London, and back, for 700 USD. Unfortunately, my desired dates didn't fit and I had to go through Morocco, to save because of Niamh and mine upcoming holiday there, the total cost of my journey, from Freetown to Amsterdam, ended up being around 850 euro. Add to that the cost of getting to and from the airport in Freetown, a cool 40 USD each way, and you're well on your way to bankruptcy.
And the Royal Air Maroc flight leaves at… 430am. With the last shuttle leaving at 11pm. The joys.
Outside of the airport terminal in Casablanca, arriving in the early morning, the morning was bright, blue and shrouded in a crispy cold. After the singeing heat of Freetown, a welcome change. Holland, on the other end, was cold and wet, with the cold getting into my bones immediately after disembarking from the AirArabia flight.
First stop: Burger King, to wolf down a Whopper.
In Holland, though cold, after only three days of work, I was able to do more than what I would have been able to do in some three weeks in Freetown. Overall, the excellent connectivity, as well as the availability of whatever I fancied, made me realise I was mentally re-inflating during my first few days back.
Then again, having done the bulk of the work, I also quickly started to long again for warmer climes, resulting in my getting a cheap ticket to Malta for a few days.
Freetown online in 2012
Getting conclusive information about the future is challenging in most of Africa and more difficult in some places than others. Whenever the 'new' undersea (internet) cable will come online for Sierra Leone, no-one seems to really know, and trying to search for that information online, while in Freetown, is like wading through a barrel of honey. And not even tasty. So perhaps that should be like wading through a barrel of sludge, which also sums up the joy felt with browsing the web in Sierra Leone.
Nevertheless, the current estimate for Freetown coming online, unequivocally, is the second quarter of 2012. More here and in the image below.
Indeed, no chance of connectivity getting better while Niamh and I are still based there.
Talking to the owner of the gym I go to in Delft, he mentioned that since they installed a video surveillance system which included coverage of the bicycle parking area, they caught four guys stealing bikes. "And it's always these foreign looking individuals." ("En het zijn altijd van die buitenlandse types.") Was that an invitation to pick up an extra bike?