Week 23, Conquering the rolling hills of Guinea, looking down the barrel of a shotgun & inspired by the purity of youth. TOTAL 9718 KM (COUNTRY #12)
Rolling out of Labe’ on a tarred surface felt like velvet under my bicycles tyres after the arduous stretch of gravel that was traversed during the crossing of the first half of the Fouta mountains in North West Guinea. The down side unfortunately meant that vehicles that had been crawling through the mountains for days on this treacherous surface were now trying to make up for lost time through the tricky twists and turns that make up the myriad of mountain passes in the Fouta region. This makes for stressful cycling as trucks and buses come hurtling around corners on the wrong side of the road forcing you to veer off into the gravel to squeeze past, sometimes it all goes wrong.
A week that would test the energy reserves with rolling hills that just never seemed to end , hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers of undulating mounds of earth that got the better of me just after Mamou, completely drained I had to resort to drastic measures to help get me up and over the next few hills. After purchasing a Guinean energy drink (1 liter of condensed milk) and a 30 minute power nap on the bonnet of a burnt out car on the side of the road I was back in the game fighting for the green corner.
The road to Farana is a lot more beautiful than the town itself and hugs the northern border of Sierra Leone, thick with vegetation it’s a perfect spot to camp out in the African bush in complete anonymity or so I thought, waking up to be met with a single barrel shotgun pointed in my direction. After executing my most impressive deer in the headlights impersonation I muttered the first thing that came to mind “Bonjour”. Luckily for me, Bouba was a rather friendly fellow and after exchanging a few hand signals and some dodgy French we both came to an agreement that I was merely passing through by bicycle & he was hunting bush meat (monkey) for the local market, we parted ways amicably.
The mind has time to wonder when travelling on a bicycle, waking up at sunrise, packing up your tent, loading your gear and getting on the road shortly after sees you in the saddle till just before sunrise which is a long shift day in and day out of introspection and thought. Undulating hills, flies, flat tyres headwinds, truck drivers that have no respect for your wellbeing, incessant calls for money coupled with a broken tent in a storm and food poisining has me completely finished this week.Week 23 goes out to the youngsters that help to make it all worthwhile when the days are long, the legs are tired and the sun is hot. Bringing so much joy and purity to the experience they help to divert the attention from mounting frustrations on those “days”.
Currently two days away from crossing into Ivory coast where tensions are high in Abidjan, receiving news that a peaceful march turned violent last week with four woman shot dead, wish me luck as I embark on country number 13 and one of the speed bumps of the West African leg of the journey.