We had to climb out of the windows and sit on the roof for the crossing”.
Charlie Curtis : 9th April

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DIARY : Guinea Bissau Imagery: ©2009 Terrametrics
Map data: ©2009 Europa Technologies

9th April : Bissau

Guinea Bissau was a massive change as we moved into a tropical country covered in mangroves. Our first introduction to them was in our ferry crossing over a river after the border. Waiting in a queue for hours we were amazed to see vans and cars pull up full to bursting point with animals. Pigs, chickens, goats; whatever they could fit. And when they ran out of space inside they just strapped them to the roof!

The ferry itself proved interesting as they forced on as many cars as possible, with touch parking an absolute requirement. We had to climb out of the windows and sit on the roof for the crossing. With night approaching we stopped in a small village and asked if we could camp up.

We were taken to a house where the young guys living there showered us with excited questions in broken English and Portuguese. Eventually we brought out the universal language barrier breaker, UNO; (A card game to those uninitiated).

Within 10 minutes most of them had picked up the rules and there followed 4 hours of some the most intense UNO ever played. They loved it, apart from a guy called Tupac, who had no clue what was going on; ever;

Driving into Bissau, the capital, the next day we were somewhat concerned as the President had been assassinated only a month before we arrived and we weren't really sure what we would face. Seeing his residence on entering the city we were less than reassured. It is riddled with bullet holes from an earlier attack in 2008. But again we saw nothing but smiles. Having dropped off our passports at the Guinea embassy for visas we headed to the most popular cafe in town for a coffee. This is where all the top officials and wealthy foreigners hang out. The front was awash with Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars. This was at odds with Guinea Bissau being one of the poorest countries in the world.

It is now one of the most popular places (especially the port town of Bissau) for drug traffickers transporting from South America to Europe. Chatting with a wealthy South American, with a shirt open to the waist and a gold chain felt bizarrely exhilarating. Despite all the warnings (we do seem to ignore warnings don’t we), we spent the night sleeping in our roof tent in the street next to this cafe and fortunately had no problems whatsoever. Don't believe all the warnings about this country.

10th April

On route to Guinea border. Leave Bissau for Guinea. Camped alongside the police checkpoint at the border crossing; We are crossing over at first light into Guinea and heading for Conakry.

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