This is part of the Seventh section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Sierra Leone
8/3/01 It was to be another four hours before we would be out of the grips of the port. Guinea was reported to be one of the worst countries in the world for official corruption. All Guineans were required to pay $US 2.50 to disembark from the boat and other nationals $US 10.00, including Sierra Leoneians, straight to the officials, no receipt, no arguments, pay or you don't get off. We refused, having paid for a visa, and were kept aboard two hours till everyone else's papers had been cleared. There was great argument and discussion between passengers over this payment. Everyone's identity card was collected along with the fee, the cards checked and then returned. One lady claiming to have paid, collected another's identity card in an attempted avoidance. She was slapped over the face by a uniformed person and berated over the head with an empty water bottle before being taken away somewhere. Tempers rose and there was much pushing and shoving. One man in imitation army greens leapt off the bow when he thought no-one was looking only to be caught and dragged away. For security reasons, no Sierra Leone men are allowed to travel on the boat. Women would travel from Sierra Leone to here to buy items to return home to sell, there being few imported items in Freetown. The officials searched people looking for money to confiscate. One crew member showed me two packages of US cash, 1200 dollars, he had been entrusted with from passengers to avoid its discovery. Deals were being done everywhere and payments not to search bags made. There is no recourse here for the people. When the police, military and customs are all on the wharf sharing in the bounty of blackmail and extortion as a small individual who do you turn to. The people who are employed to protect us are our worst enemies. No wonder there is such civil unrest, coup attempts and dissatisfaction with the governments in these countries. Eventually we were the only ones left on board and, delaying the officials departure, were allowed to disembark with the motorcycle clearing customs and immigration without payments or problems. The two hour delay to watch Guinea officials in action well worth the time. Straight to change money in the street and to the Guinea Bissau embassy where our visas were issued on the spot. A welcoming friendly official, hopefully an indication of a visit to their country.
9/3/01 Guinea is certainly a step up from where we have been recently. Its shops are full, petrol comes from a pump and meat can be bought. Our hotel, although more expensive has water from taps not buckets and electricity most of the time. Food is not in short supply, is varied and cheap. The breasts of West African women are seen as functional and not sexual, that is left to the thighs and buttocks. It is not unusual to see topless women or those scantily covered with their pendulous mammories flaying the air popping in and out of loose clothing. Street feeding of babies or small children is everywhere with the wee one latching the tuba with both hands as a bottle or reaching around from their carried position on the back for a quick nourishing drink. No-one but westerners eyes are diverted and diverted away as quickly in embarrassment at this open display, particularly surprising from Muslim women.
10/3/01 The BBC´s saying for the day was, "No matter how long and winding the road it will always lead you to your destination." We followed the black top 250 km to Boke then the pink dust a further 150 km to Koumbia. Only four check post stops with one "Bad Policeman" as our Japanese friend Naoki describes difficult corrupt officials in these countries. Tired now and we are moving steadily through the French speaking countries looking for direct routes not scenic ones.
11/3/01 Reasonable dirt to Foulamori for immigration etc.
before a barge across the border river.
Move with us to Guinea Bissau
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