Alabama Shakes

A new favorite.


Coconut-the local ORS

coconut seller2

(ORS is Oral Rehydration Salts, which are used commonly in community health programs as treatment for children with diarrhea, cholera patients, and now Ebola patients. When I told one of our Sierra Leonean drivers that I am loving the coconuts here, he said “It is good for ‘d’ body, it is our ORS!”)

The expat world in Sierra Leone is very surreal. You have a driver, you live in a place far above local purchasing power, you eat at restaurants that cater to expats. It’s very insular and it exists entirely parallel to life as a national. I’ve found it very hard to have any authentic experiences here.

Coconuts are my one exception.

I sneak out of the office compound and take a walk down one of the busiest roads in Freetown, cross the street and hope not to die (I try and wait for a local to dart into the traffic so I can cross at the same time-safety in numbers, right?), and stop at the petrol station where several people are selling items to passers by.

I go and ask the gentleman for a coconut, who has a wheelbarrow full of them. He asks me which one I want (sometimes, sometimes he just chooses for me) and proceeds to use his machete to whack off the outer layer, tap on it (to hear how much liquid is inside?), and cut a round hole at the top. I say thank you, take it from him and stand there to drink the contents and then hand it back. He whacks it open and scrapes out the meat and hands it to me. I pay him 2,000 leones (about 40 cents) and remain standing there eating the meat and then toss the husk into the back of the wheelbarrow with all the others.

And then I dart back across the street, feeling really proud of myself.

It is my one activity that makes me feel like I’m actually experiencing something of Sierra Leone.

I’ve never had fresh coconut before coming here and now I swear by it. I’m sure going to miss it. It just wouldn’t be the same buying it from a grocery store (nor do I have the machete skills for such a task).


I’ve been sucked into the foodie blogosphere, which is at once a yummy exploration and at the same time excruciatingly masochistic as my food options here in Sierra Leone are limited.

It isn’t a surprise to find that almost every food blog has an index of diet friendly recipes. But, what has surprised me is that every food blog has so many categories of diets.

It seems to be a very Western notion to describe one’s diet; like we are using our food choices as a way to add to our list of labels. It’s kind of a funny way in which we identify ourselves. “Hi, I’m Saundra and I’m wheat free, sugar free, and vegetarian though I eat fish…” (I’m none of those, btw).

Even for those of us who, thankfully, have no food allergies, we still tend to adhere to a diet or label our noshing habits. And inevitably, it changes with time, with age, with new research, and probably most often with new food fads.

I went from SAD, to vegetarian, to organic, to local, to whole foods, to omnivore (yes, I’ve always eaten dairy). These days, in my grass fed meat eating/raw milk/pastured eggs/organic/local veg eating life, I find the Weston A. Price dietary guidelines make the most sense.  They are research based and advocate grass fed meat, lots of good fats, and raw milk from pastured cows.

Any diet recommending butter is a diet for me! Check them out:

Confinement Yoga

I’m not one who exercises-at least not in the gym rat sort of way. But I do practice yoga fairly often. My yoga practice ebbs and flows according to how much time and extra cash I have, since I’m terrible at motivating to get out my mat at home. When I’m living abroad, it’s another story. In most of the places I’ve lived, I’ve had little freedom of movement because of the security or context of the place. Taking walks is limited and there certainly aren’t any yoga classes around. So, I get into a routine of doing yoga regularly on my own. (Below is a photo of me with my mat in the deserts of Chad.)tamam My all time favorite video series is with Bryan Kest. You just have to watch a minute or two of his video to see why. The hair, the white suits, the oh-so hands on pose assists. I guarantee it will keep you on your mat for the entire 53 minutes. Enjoy!

Olivia Clementine


I’m mildly obsessed with face products. I’m on a constant search for natural, organic products that will do magic.

I’ve recently tried Olivia Clementine’s face cream and it’s so dreamy! It has a wonderfully sweet smell, due in part to the beeswax in it (which is from her own hive). I’d like to try the rose face cream next as anything with rose sounds luxurious.