Our camp site tonight was under a couple of huge Mango trees in the Catholic Mission in Nzerekore. You could say it was convenient. Not peaceful though.
Before closing up for the night, there were huge cumulus clouds billowing above and lightning flashes. Mmmmm.
There must be 10 mosques close by. Their introduction to the day started around 4am. clearly they are competing with each other for souls. Each one trying to outdo the other in volume and length of message. They started again around 6am with a similar output. Once that had finished the Catholics started with chiming bells. Both performances in between the local rooster.
As a result of the early morning serenade, we were on the road by 8.15am. Through a succession of towns separated by beautiful wide, sealed roads. However, the tortuous single lane tracks through the villages didn’t seem to make sense till we learned that none of the villagers wanted to have their houses (dwellings) knocked over to make way for the road. Oh well.
Getting through the Guinea border system was a nightmare. Customs, then three different sets of Police checkpoints, all taking exactly the same information and recording it manually in a bound book. I nearly caused a riot by trying to photograph a butterfly. The guards, seeing the camera leapt out of their chairs as if they had been caught with their fingers in the till. They demanded to see the photos Then three or four Guinea fowl wandered past and I had to secure their approval to photograph them.
Across the border in Cot’e d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) also a former French colony, there couldn’t have been a bigger contrast. Friendly well organised officers doing their job. It was the first border where Yellow Fever vaccine certificates were checked, also, Covid vaccinations.
The countryside has changed dramatically in the last two days. Beautiful landscapes with mountains and lush jungle. Sadly the slash & burn practice continues but to a much lesser extent. This is the Africa we enjoy. I have to say also that the people on both sides of the border are extremely friendly. Children wave and smile and their faces positively beam when they receive a friendly wave back. We are not experiencing the grasping of more northern countries.
By the time we have completed border formalities it was nearly 2pm and we were starving. No porridge this morning! Finding a place to stop for lunch with shade, is a challenge. In a clearing there was a metal frame structure with a sloping iron roof. The wire netting securing it had been breached so we drove in and backed under the roof. Half way through lunch the sky darkened and the heavens opened up. Some women with babies had been walking along the road and ran to join us under cover.
Rain is a new experience for us after 2 months of hot sunshine. Once the initial downpour had tapered off we drove out from cover to give Poki a much needed wash. The road from the border has been first class. Chinese built, my guess, with road markings.
After leaving the last border we met a German in a van heading back home. Fed up with difficulties obtaining transit visas and mindless bureaucracy.
We are now ensconced in a hotel room in the town of Man. The room has air con, hot & cold running water (mostly), towels, soap and toilet paper. I’m between writing and watching Wolves play Fulham on the French TV network, Canal +.
I have to mention the result from the recent cricket test match between NZ Black Caps & England. What a game it must have been to watch. NZ totally outclassed in the 1st Innings and England in the 2nd. The result, a 1 run victory to NZ. After the previous World Cup with a similar result that went Englands way, redemption. What a brilliant game cricket can be when played with a positive attitude. Both sides should be congratulated. Thanks for the heads-up, Max.
Some developments with Poki. A couple of days ago when we had a rest day, I mentioned finding a slight leak from the rear diff back plate. While poking around, I noticed the slightest drip of oil from the nearside rear shock absorber. By last night that drip had become a flood. Clearly with the hammering the suspension has been taking, something had to give. We put new shocks on when departing for Europe back in April 2018 and they have done 66,000 miles since. We’ll need to source a new set in Abidjan, just over 500k’s away.
Dinner in Poki tonight.