Monday, December 31, 2018

Freetown, Sierra Leone, December 31, 2018

Nienke hired a van to take 19 of us to the Liberian embassy in Freetown.  African vans hold at least 20 but the same van in Canada would hold 12!  So, 15 of us fit in while 4 took a taxi.  Our driver seemed a bit stunned - he often stalled the van or jerked us around; it was like he didn't know how to shift and as it turns out, he didn't know how to put the van in low gear going down the hills so he didn't start the brakes on fire!  Up and down the hills we went and he seemed to be getting rather nervous.  When we smelled the brakes, we finally asked him if he had any.  He said yes but he was lying-

It was also kind of Iike he said he knew how to get to the Liberian embassy.  Because of detours; they recently had a major landslide, we ended up on a high hill in the middle of Freetown with no brakes!  We decided to walk to the bottom while he let the brakes cool.  There, we got in and had a safe ride to the embassy where we managed to get our visa in a short while!  Miracles do happen!  After, I went to a supermarket that had all kinds of things I'm used to and then for lunch.  Four of us caught a cab back to Bureh Beach that took 2.5 hours because of traffic.  Along the way, there are people everywhere and what is really fun is all the merchants that come right up to our windows.  Leanne needed a cord for her kindle and got one.  We needed water too.  I bought some toothpaste of all things!  Our driver bought fried plantains and because traffic kept inching along we did too.  The seller was balancing the basket on her head and had on heels so had a hard time keeping up.  He already had the plantains and I has holding the money out the window.  Eventually she caught us and took her cash-

I wonder which shop is first best-

Our cabbie gave us a bit of a tour of the city and traffic was nuts so lt took a long time to get home.  We were luckier than others.  Not only did they have trouble getting into town but the radiator blew up in the van they were in so they had to walk and then catch motorcycle taxis home.  TIA is all I can say.
Once back, I had a swim and then met two new passengers: Dietmar and Martina from Germany.  We had a great New Year's Eve supper but I didn't make it past 11.  Happy 2019!  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bureh Beach, Sierra Leone, December 30, 2018

I had a relaxing day, sitting around drinking beer until it was time for lunch.  I had crab that was excellent.  It took forever to eat and I had it all over the place: on my face, on my dress, all over the table and sometimes it went flying onto the other people sitting around the table-

This is the first time I've seen men, it's usually women, selling goods that they're carrying on their heads.  Some of the baskets are so big and heavy.  They're loaded with chips, cookies and drinks:  President's Choice and Great Value.  A woman explained that they get their stuff from a container:  one that probably "fell off a ship" and never made it to its destination-

I enjoyed the warm ocean for awhile, then sat on the beach.  It's a beautiful spot-

Tomorrow we have an early departure into Freetown to the Liberian Embassy.  I hope we are successful!

P.S.- Playing with Playdoh wearing a Calgary Flames apron!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Bush Camp, Guinée to Bureh Beach, Sierra Leone, December 29, 2018

We had an early start for the border on the worst roads yet-

Sometimes we have to drive less than 10 km/ hour and sitting at the back, it's really rough!  There are fewer and fewer vehicles as we get closer to Sierra Leone-

Doing laundry-

We crossed a narrow bridge over a lovely river-

where they had a banana nursery-

Thankfully it didn't take long to get through the borders.  The Guinée side uses computers, thanks to us-

I wish the cooks in Lamé had seen this-

Sierra Leone is an English speaking country so I'm not sure if maybe this sign is for those who don't get through as quickly as we did-

Sierra Leone had just finished a long civil war and then was hit with Ebola so its economy has taken a hit.  It is now Ebola free-

Sierra Leone is so different from Guinée.  There's more money so the roads are great.  They still burn lots but there was little garbage lying around.  It just feels easier-

Quite a load bursting out of the back of a van-

Interesting rules-

Markets are much the same: organized chaos-

We pulled into a place right on Bureh Beach where it's the same price to camp or share a room, so guess where I am!  $30 US is expensive for no power during the day, no hot water, no bathroom door and a window screen that's broken.  TIA!  I'm looking forward to a few relaxing days on the beautiful sea!


???? To near ????, Guinée, December 28, 2018

We had another drive day-

making our way to Sierra Leone on rough roads.  Along the way, it's hilly and dry- 

We saw an irrigated area where they were growing pineapples and there's a lot of cassava growing in the plastic rubbish-

We stopped at a lovely waterfall-

And some went swimming-

Lunch was at a village where we also had to cook shop.  Unfortunately no cabbage was available so we had to settle for tiny tomatoes and cucumbers.  Hope it lasts a couple of days in the fridge.  For lunch I had an omelette that cost $1.19.  I tipped the eight year old boy about 30 cents.  When I put it in his hand, he just stared at me and finally whispered "Merci!" with a huge grin.  
We carried on and found a spot to camp at the base of a bridge.  I'm the translator so I asked a man sitting around, they are often just sitting around, to ask for permission to camp from the chief of the village.  He said he was in the mosque and took off running to get him.  Fifteen minutes later, two men arrived and gave us permission.  We set up our tents and kitchen and along came the "mayor".  He said we had to pay to stay and started at $3500 US! for the night!  We eventually negotiated $50, took his name and licence plate number and away he went.  He couldn't guarantee our security but was going to let the military know that we are here.  We thought we'd jumped through all the proper hoops but apparently not.  I'm hoping for a good sleep without interruption but the bridge is busy with semis and might be all night!!  Tomorrow, we'll cross the border and hopefully make it to near Freetown, Sierra Leone.  



Labé to ????, Guinée, December 27, 2018

We only drove 167 km today from Labé to an unknown bushcamp location-

Along the way, it's a dry country with red soil and lots of trees-

We stopped in Dalaba for lunch and a visit but the only thing to see was the Cooperative de Cordonniers where there were handmade shoes-

and bags for sale-

It smelled like wild animal!  The artisans were hard at work-

After zipping around on a motorbike with a local, looking for an Orange shop so I could get my phone working - again..... These SIM cards drive me crazy.  My phone worked perfectly yesterday afternoon and into the night and then this morning, I had a message saying they weren't sure of my identity and so my account was suspended!  They provided a number - 6277 to call for help but it wouldn't connect so the local first took me to a shop because he thought my phone was broken.  After 10 minutes, he realized there was nothing wrong with my phone so I was sent to an Orange shop.  There, I needed my passport for identification, which I didn't have and a new SIM!  I know TIA but i was very angry.  In the end, she couldn't help me anyway because the power was off!  I went back to the truck and went for lunch where I had a hamburger for way to much.  Back at the truck, my phone rang and it was Orange calling to ask me for my passport details and where I was born!  I was hoping my phone would start working after that but not so far.  I've shut it off and have my fingers crossed.

After Delaba we drove another couple of hours.  The roads aren't that busy but the only vehicles we meet or that pass us are semis and public transportation, absolutely loaded-

Humans even ride on top-

We're in a nice bushcamp and although Hilary and I were responsible to set up the poo tent, the ground is solid rock/lava so we can't.  I'm hoping for a nice sleep and looking forward to moving towards Sierra Leone tomorrow!


Labé, Guinée, December 26, 2018

I enjoyed my room for the morning - reading and relaxing.  Then I decided to wander downtown to try and get a SIM card because the snappy woman that runs Tata Hotel doesn't seem to be able to supply Wifi, even though rooms cost $37/night which is expensive for Africa.  We had stopped at Orange, Guinee's major cell phone carrier, yesterday for Richard so I thought I could find it on my own.  I had to walk through the market to get there and surprisingly wasn't hassled.  However, kids are in awe when they see Portos - they call us that because of the Portuguese but that doesn't make sense because Guinée was a French colony.  Anyway, they stare and high five us, giggle or blush and turn away.  I don't think many tourists visit-

Upon entering the Orange store, I had to wash my hands in bleach water.  I like that because it helps keep things clean.  I waited about 15 minutes to be served and then had to wait an hour for my card to be activated.  It wouldn't work so I waited another hour and yah!  I've got a SIM card!  Walking home I happened by this huge plastic garbage pile that people were going through.  How gross is that-

I stopped at a small booth for lunch.  I'm a bit turned off right now because of that rank so called monkey meat but ended up really enjoying atheiké which contains fargna as a base - it's sort of like couscous but is made from fermented cassava pulp topped with a boiled egg, sliced onion and tomato, dried fish and all covered with a spicy sauce.  It was very good and only cost 75 cents-

I wandered back to the campsite/hotel to enjoy my room for the last few hours.  We have a few bush camps coming up!

P.S. My cook group-  Terry and Norm-

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