scared thrilled scared thrill scared thrilled

I find most things in life both scary and thrilling. I suppose I should hope it's always this way, but sometimes it feels like an awful lot of work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

more photos

you will have to flop your head to the side to view some of these. sorry kids.

1. Returning from the Bijagos to Bissau I decided to take once-weekly big boat rather than chance it in a littl one again. The loading of the boat is an unbelievable mess with people, animals, cargo and enough "dried" fish to feed the subcontinent. People crowd on the pier, throwing money, tins of food and cookies, sachets of water, straw mats back and forth. This guy, who must work for the boat company, apparently was in charge of making the departure "safe" or at least punctual (impossibility). Without warning he started beating everyone within reach with his short little club. Amazing how little effect this had. He was fighting a losing battle.

2. Bissau. The capital of Guinea-Bissau is in an unbelievable state. The country, according to the locals, is run completely by the mafia. The best evidence of this is that nothing, actually, seems to be "running". As far as I can tell there are no public services at all. If you're waiting for a bus, or for a truck to cart off your garbage you're going to be waiting a long time... There is sporadic electricity and the streets are completley unlit. At night it looks deserted, completely black. So strange to walk down streets in the busy central district and not be able to find a light. As far as I could tell, the country has no running water. My host had a beautiful bathtub with shiny chrome shower head and a polished ceramic toilet. But nothing works, and you stand in the beautiful bathtub and wash with a bucket of water drawn from the well in the backyard. The streets, even in the downtown core, are lined with cars long abandoned and stripped of anything strippable. Many of them still carry bulletholes from the last war. But I loved the city! I spent an amazing five hours just jamming on the street with a group of Cape Verdian men. I was glad for my education in the ways of Cesaria Evora! They fed me green mango mixed with peppers and cold beers and I sang them songs about the heartland. It's a beautiful city in it's way, and I loved my time there.

3. Travel in West Africa, but especially the Guineas, is an extreme exercise in patience. I spent 36 hours at this gare routiere waiting for a car to Labe. Guinea had to be the worst though, as the country experienced, overnight, a 60 per cent increase in fuel costs while I was there. Prices for passengers went up immediately and nobody could afford to travel. Because cars leave when they're full this meant extra long waits. As well, to make up for lost revenue, the drivers would pack even more (is this possible?) people into already full spaces. Longer waits. Fuller cars. If Guinea wasn't so unbelievably wonderful in every other way I would've said good riddance and lit a shuck for Mali. But that country, especially the Fouta Djalon region, turned out to be a highlight and somewhere I hope to return. Hopefully with my own transport...

4. Bonne Chance... every little bit helps. 14 people in this car, for 12 hours.

5. The sun setting on Africa. Travelling at night is much preferred to travelling during the day, though it is probably more dangerous. The more exhausted you are the better, and the night air is a mercy.


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