Monday, June 10, 2013

A little more of Guinea and Kassa

So far June has been a very exciting month. Mom finally received her letter from the Dutch IND lifting her ban and allowing her back in the EU while also approving her visa. Only 3 days after receiving the letter she landed in Holland, no one but Kees and I knew. Two days after she arrived, Dad was released from Heliomare where he was going through rehab after his stroke. It was perfect timing and the best present and surprise we could’ve given him!  I am currently doing a FREE promotion, in honor of my birthday and in just 3 days over 2,000 people have downloaded the ebook  “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China”! I can’t quite comprehend that number! I’m completely shocked and so happy. The sale is going on until Tuesday, so be quick and tell your friends to get their FREE download.
I know it’s been quite a while since our February trip to Guinea, but I’ve been meaning to write a few more posts about it for a while now. Unfortunately, I got too caught up in all the other things going on that this will be the final post about that trip before we move on to the next adventures.
Our Guinea trip was a mix of languages; Dutch between Keita and Kees, English with me, French with the locals and a buzz of Sou-sou when Keita was speaking with the locals.
In just two weeks Kees spoke/attempted to speak five different languages; Dutch and English fluently, German, attempted French and a few words of Sou-Sou!  I tell you, he continues to impresses me every day. Insistent on impressing him for a change, I put on my best French accent only to receive a humored, “you’re a terrible freak,” in return, “But you are still my little gecko catching crab hunter.”

(Small doorway of our second room in Conakry)
Kees was amazing throughout our entire trip. He never let me out of his sight and always held my hand or led me by the elbow while crossing streets. These careful precautions could’ve been highly influenced by Mom who asked Kees a thousand times to take good care of me; he did not let her down.
After spending a week on Kassa island where our holiday home is being built, we went back to Conakry for a few days before flying home.

 Faliko another one of Keita’s friends who’d been hanging out with us, offered his room to us. It was complete luxury In comparison to the first place we stayed. Faliko was very proud to show us his room, quickly turning on his a/c and tv to show off. He has his own private room with a couch, a big bed, two fridges which Kees thinks he used to sell ice/charge people to use, and running water with a private bathroom!!!      
Though the lighting was very dull and the walls and floor were completely warped, we felt utterly spoilt! As I hung a flashlight from the ceiling I questioned if perhaps the dull lighting was for a reason… I was the one who noticed the giant bedbugs running across the walls above our heads in bed. This didn’t come as a surprise, after waking up with very distinct, itchy rows of red spots on our bodies. I spent a good portion of our time in the room squishing bugs and saving poor Kees who refused to be the bug hunter. We also had a monster of a friend in the bathroom. She never disturbed us or jumped onto us while we were taking a pee and I was grateful that her ginormous egg sack didn’t hatch while we were there.

(Bed bugs and a giant spider with a huge white egg sack attached to her belly)

(What we see when we step out of our room in Conakry)
The day of our departure we had to go back one last time to Kassa island so Kees could sign the papers for his house. Keita had originally told us we would go to the island at 2pm but we insisted we go at noon so we had time to make it back for our flight.
African culture and respecting elders is really nice, but sometimes it can backfire a little. When we got to the harbour the water was waaaayyy out, impossible to catch a boat to the other side. The tide wouldn’t be back in until at least 2pm. I think Kieta knew this, but rather than speak up to Kees and correct him and risk disrespecting him, Keita had obliged and picked us up at our requested time.

(The tide is way out!)
So with the clock ticking and the water seemingly unmoving, we waited on the curb watching the traffic and kids playing soccer barefoot in the trash strewn beach.
Sitting in one spot provides enough entertainment and unique sights for a thousand photos. There is just so much going on. After about an hour, to prevent having to pee on the curb, I insisted we go to the 3-star Novotel which was luckily just around the corner. We escaped to dry off our sweat in the a/c and had a coffee.

As soon as the tide was within reach, we walked down a very narrow cement walkway to the boat with our arms out to stay balanced. Before we’d left our room, our bags packed and ready for the airport, we contemplated whether to leave the passports and all of our most valuable things there or to bring them on our person… well, we did the latter, and I’m still not sure which was smarter. There were local guys being paid to literally piggy back, men and women, through knee deep mucky water to their boats and toss them in. It was chaos.
We got to the island at 5pm and the guy who needed to do the paperwork wasn’t even there!! Our flight was scheduled for 8:30pm so at this point we started to feel slightly wary.
The minutes felt like forever, having to sit there and wait as the minutes ticked by was difficult. Sweat dripped down our faces from both heat and anxiety.
Keita nodded confidently, “it’s okay, we make it.”
Ever calm, knowing stress would not change the situation, we had to sit with smiles on our faces and give the due respect to the man when he came, instead of jumping up and down and telling him we had a flight to catch. As soon as the papers were signed we shook the man’s hand and made a run for it!
Down the dusty, uneven island road we ran to the decrepit dock where we were dropped off only to find no boat. Kees, in usual Kees fashion let out a well humored laugh, “No boat. Keita, is there really, no boat?”
I couldn’t help but laugh also, it was really like out of a movie, “We’re stranded!” Ten minutes feels a lot longer when it’s part of a 2 hour count down.

Finally the boat came back from who knows where, and we all piled into the boat to take the final 30 minute ride back to the capital before hightailing it out of the country.
It seemed to be the worst weather we’d had on the trip, with the waves rocking us back and forth. We had a dozen people crammed in the smallest boat I’d seen on the trip, the waves nearly coming up and over the edge.
“Oh geez, oh geez!” It was the final stretch and yet making it seemed more and more doubtful. Halfway between the island and the capital, the motor died. So sitting in this overloaded, cockroach infested boat, drifting in the direction of the open sea, I couldn’t help but regret bringing ALL of our valuables; passports, money, cameras and full memory chips. What were we thinking??
“It is kind of funny isn’t it, that we rely on this boat to make our flight…” Kees laughed.
We all held our breath, one guy already bailing the water, until the motor kicked in again. Everyone was on the edge of their wooden plank seat, cringing at every choking sound of the motor.The boatman, no older than 20 and visibly lacking confidence, steered the boat horizontal on the  waves, which made each one of us feel like we were going overboard from our tippy canoe.
Finally, we touched ground, squeezing ourselves through the  crowd of boats. Barely getting the tip of our boat to touch the slippery, concrete pier I jumped off the boat and luckily into a guy’s arms, who saved me from falling onto my butt in all the slimy fish guts.

(The slimy, filthy harbour when the tide is out! I think the only one enjoying this is the pig!!) 
(Yes, PIG!)
Desperate for a shower we came back to find  the running water, which had been such a privilege, had decided to stop working. Thankfully there  was still a full bucket of water that the two of us were able to share.

(No running water for a bucket shower!!!)
We threw the last minute odds and ends into the suitcase and rushed to put it in the jeep. “Wanting to yell, ‘STEP ON IT!’” we turned the corner and BAM rush hour traffic. Oh man. Without traffic it was a 45 minute drive to airport and it was already 6:00pm.
In the dead stop traffic we see the same Interpol secret police, who days earlier had threatened to take us to the station, stuck right next to us! Surprised, we laughed and waved. Kees pulled out his camera (the whole reason for the near arrest in the first place) and jokingly asked if he could take a picture of him. The guy smiled and began enthusiastically waving a hand to go ahead and started to pose from his window… oh my gosh… a great lasting impression to remind us just how crazy and wonderful Africa  is.
Before we were really allowed to leave town though, we had to say goodbye to Keita's family and pick up drums to take home for him. As Keita loaded his drums in the jeep his family stuffed kebabs in our mouths, gave us hugs and kisses and we were off!

(Keita’s sister and extended family)
The traffic was intense and slow going, so as soon as there was a break in the median on the main highway, we cut over and drove into oncoming traffic ALL the way down… “Now this is crazy!” I thought, laughing with Kees. Taking the oncoming traffic lane, we drove like a bat out of hell. We of course weren’t the only ones to think of this… you know how during rush hour one direction is bumper to bumper while the other side is practically empty? Have you ever thought of just cutting over to the other side when there was a break in the median? Well, that’s exactly what everyone was doing. We were in a race, making three lanes of traffic, two going against traffic, honking and screaming at the guys coming in the correct direction in their own lane.  Flying by the rest of the stalled traffic to our right we dodged cars and people running across the highway.
At the round-about just outside the airport, we cut in front of  6 lanes of honking screaming cars, taxis and buses. We got to the airport at 7:30 and ran to the gates. The man at the gates wouldn’t allow Keita through without a ticket but he was insistent on escorting his drums. This led to a big head butting argument with a giant guard with a machine gun.
Kees and I started making our way to the check-in while Keita ran around to try a different entrance. We saw the guard come to the next check stand to tell that guard NOT to let Keita through. Next thing we knew, “Kees?” an African stranger in uniform approached us. “Who’s this guy?” I thought. Kieta had lots of connections or a good way of bribing, because this guy was higher rank than the other guard and he let Keita through. We were relieved to see there was no  line, but when we got to the baggage belt the woman was super anal about the weight and would NOT under any circumstances let us through with an extra 3kg, so right then and there we ripped apart our bags, reorganized them, sweating from the heat all the while. By this time she was yelling at us “Hurry up! The plane is already boarding!!”  and we hadn’t even checked in yet. We even had the immigration/customs guys filling out our custom forms for us as we frantically checked in Keita’s “awkward luggage”. They called us over  to check the drums through a scan. In that moment my heart pounded. Having watch too many “Locked up abroad” shows at home, I envisioned that these drums had been loaded full of cocaine or something and started to sweat on top of my first sweat layer. The drums went through showing they were completely empty, PHEWF!!!! I need to stop watching TV.  Imagine!  Drums safe and sound we thanked Keita and said a rushed goodbye. The PA was announcing repetitively, “Last call for flight to Dakar” as we stood at the immigration waiting to be stamped out. By this point I really started to feel panicked. The officer was so unbelievably slow like he was purposely trying to make us miss our flight. He even stopped to have a chat with someone instead of first giving me that stamp I so desperately needed. Kees was on the other side, pacing and waiting for me. I mean, how do you politely tell a border guard to, “hurry the hell up!!!” ? As soon as he slipped my white “temporary passport” through the window I snatched it and RAN. Our plane was being announced for the THIRD time “last call for Belgium Airlines to Dakar”.
We were stopped at yet another check and had to tear our bags apart again. Seeing that I was starting to get a slightly panicked Kees said, in the coolest tone, “It’ll be fine.”
Not 15 minutes later we were IN the air. Success!!!!
“Why is it that every time we fly, it seems we’re always running?” we asked ourselves.
When we flew home from DR. they were calling our flight, Suriname they called our names on the PA when we were just outside our boarding gate evidently in lala land.
With absolutely everything combined I can honestly say this has been my favorite trip in the last 4 years. Since the end of our family trip I have had the joys of Swiss skiing and hot springs, Belgian chateaus and ATVing, a Canadian Rocky Mountain road trip, Dominican spas and zip-lining, Italian history and art, French monuments, Portuguese beaches, Suriname jungles and piranhas, Jamaica dolphin rides and waterfalls, Las Vegas Chip N Dales and buffets, German amusement parks, Greek island buggy excursions, Turkish delights and several European road trips.
Not in a million years and if I were reincarnated a thousand times would I believe it, but of all those trips, Guinea made me the happiest.
Tomorrow Kees and I are flying to Mauritius on a much different trip. I am extremely excited but in the back of my mind I wonder if this luxurious, honeymoon style island will be able to top our more adventurous Guinea trip.
Savannah Grace


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home