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  Monday, May 23rd
Paramount Airlines Helicopter Shuttle, Which Runs To and From Lungi Airport
Paramount Airlines Helicopter Shuttle, Which Runs To and From Lungi Airport
Notes From Toni:
Still enroute to Sierra Leone, I spent six hours in London Gatwick Airport before boarding the flight for Freetown. It seems that Joyce was not able to get a flight out of Atlanta, and is trying frantically to confirm a flight for Friday. Astreus Airlines runs only two flights a week into Freetown, on Mondays and Fridays. If she does not make Friday's flight, it will be Monday before she can get her feet onto African soil.

The journey to Sierra Leone is a long one from Florida: nearly ten hours to London, followed by a five hour flight from London to Freetown.

At length, we arrived in Freetown. The scene at the airport was a bit chaotic and a little (OK, a LOT) overwhelming, as baggage was unloaded and travelers rushed about. We were to take the helicopter across the bay to a helipad near the Cape Sierra Hotel, where we would stay for the week.

While we were waiting for our baggage, I met two of my fellow Priscilla's Homecoming participants. Ann Wright was a Deputy Embassador in Sierra Leone before the war. She now lives in Hawaii, and had traveled to Sierra Leone for the homecoming. Lenny Spears is a videographer based in Charleston and is working with Jacqueline Metz to produce a documentary film about Priscilla's Homecoming.

Lenny and I decided then and there to look out for one another's welfare, which made us each feel a little less overwhelmed. We must have looked a bit dazed, though, as a police officer at the airport volunteered to help us exchange our currency and secure seats on the helicopter. Shortly thereafter we were greeted by a representative from the US Embassy who helped us to make our way to the helicopter.

The helicopter is a big and noisy affair, but much fun and adventure to ride. There are no forward-facing rows of seats, but instead there are bench-like seats along the walls of the copter. From the portholes, we got our first view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sierra Leone Bay which separates the Lungi Airport from Aberdeen, where the Cape Sierra Hotel is located. We had finally arrived, and were on our way to begin the big adventure.

Anthropologist Joseph Opala, who organized and led Priscilla's Homecoming, met us at the heliport and guided us to the hotel, where we settled in and gathered our senses after our long journeys.

After everyone wound down and bid their goodnights, I again had time for personal reflection. I walked out onto a second-story breezway between two wings of the hotel, where I took the breeze and gazed upon Africa for the first time. When I returned to the room, I pulled a chair over to the window, opened the window and watched a thunderstorm approach. It was a very peaceful end to a hectic day. I turned in for a long sleep.

Notes From Kenny:
My first day in Africa did not turn out like I planned, but I took everything in stride. As an African American I had envisioned my reconnect with the Mother Land to be one that carried for me deep spiritual and emotional meaning, but many times a little bit of humor was inevitably thrown in to keep everything real, and hence, I wrote the following poem.

My first big African moment

I get to the hotel and
I want to get deep
You know spiritual
Since this is my first trip to Africa

So I decide to take off my shoes
so that I can step onto African soil
(which looks a lot like Georgia ground)

And this is what happened
In this super consciences
metaphysical moment
where Iím looking at the Atlantic Ocean
and thinking about being in the motherland
and imagining an Alex Haley Roots moment

I took off my left shoe
And stepped onto African Ground
I took off my right shoe
and stepped on something prickly
some kind of African plant
and that sucker hurt
and now Iím hopping around
on one foot in Africa
and Iím hoping that plant wasnít poisonous

© 2005 k.h. burton

Late Monday evening, members of Priscillaís homecoming were already gathered in the lounge area of the Cape Sierra Hotel when I ventured downstairs from my room. I believe it was Alison who said to me ďKenny, look who's here, Toni Carrier." Toni and I had only corresponded and worked together via e-mail and the World Wide Web over the past two years when the Africana Heritage web site was first initiated. I was overjoyed to see her, and immediately we connected, and that same enthusiasm which convinced me to participate in the Homecoming was ever present in her persona in person...

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