Saturday, July 4, 2009


Date: June 21th 2009

Venue: Marianella Guest House, Freetown

So we’re in Freetown. The flight here was pretty uneventful. Had a four and a half hour layover in Nairobi. Not the best airport for something like that, I assure you. The seats are hard and partitioned: nightmare for travelers like us who started their journey at 2:30 in the morning.
The later part of the 10-day workshop in Rwanda was great. I feel excited about going ahead and putting all those ideas to practice. I was impressed by the great amount of innovative and really cool technology that’s under the hood of these cute-looking green machines. It was also great getting to know all the awesome people from the other 29 teams. If any of you are reading this post, good luck with your deployment. I am looking forward to hearing more about how your it all went.

So, Freetown finally. The city is one big scenic sauna- it really is that humid. As we rolled in on the ferry that connects the Lungi airport and the main city, I couldn’t help thinking what a beautiful postcard picture the scene would make: a calm sea and gentle slopes backed by towering green hills… If only I weren’t sweating like a pig that was told it’s halal.

I had mostly packed jeans and long pants(thank you Mr. Esmann for the kind advice), but any illusions I had about wearing them were corrected the very first day. Immediately went and got some pairs of shorts from the local market. Mathias says they probably belonged to a fat German tourist before me, but I haven’t seen many of those around. And besides, they had the tags on, so I should be okay.

The XOs had already arrived at the UNICEF offices so went and checked on them yesterday. Since we’re transporting them to Sahn(which happens to be quite a journey away), we re-packaged them(in a neat assembly line that Mr. Ford would have been proud of) so that each small XO box would take three laptops instead of one. The solar panels still haven’t arrived. An extra consignment of a hundred chargers has though. We could have done equally well with some power strips though since we’ll primarily be using solar panels anyway and the original chargers that ship with individual XOs take the whole 110-240 V range for input.

Sam got five WRT300N Linksys routers. I have the firmware for them here so we just need to re-flash them. Hope that goes well(James Elkins from the Cornell team mentioned that he had some problems re-flashing the Linksys wrt54gs routers).

On Friday, we went and saw Edna Jones, who heads the Sierra Leonean UWC national committee at the Ministry of Education. We told her about the project and she introduced us to the relevant people- deputy ministers, the attaches for Kanema(for the Tulane project) and Sahn etc. The deputy ministers promised us audience this week so we can talk about the project to them. It should be good to have them on board.

Otherwise, it’s been a lot of great food(cassava leaves and peanut butter stew are lovable and ample proof that appearances can be deceiving), getting to know Freetown and other team members and chilling. Things happen at their own pace here and it’s useless to try to rush them up. You just have to go with the flow. That’s what I am going to try and do.

Signing out for now,


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