Sunday, 14 January 2007

Bijagos Archipelago

Before leaving I tried to ask one of the young brothers if Steve was still in his room, he didn't understand. So I knocked on the door that I thought was Steve's room and it was answered by a rather tall man who Gianni later told me was Liberian - he & Steve had been chatting to him the night before!

We went into town, glad to be out of the brothel with it's smells and keen to find a good coffee. We got back to the Che Guerva roundabout and went to a little cafe. Douad had been looking out of his office window and spotted us again; he came down to join us and organised for the cafe to look after our packs.

Heading off to the Bonjour supermarket as we'd been advised by Fatima we'd get a good rate of exchange, Douad became our guide and we managed to get 660CFA to a euro ... I went straight across the road into an internet cafe to catch up on mine & Gianni's e-mails. Gianni & Douad wandered off for an hour together. I got the last PC as the cafe was full, sat down and was greeted by Steve who was next to me. We had a bit of a chat about what to do next, Gianni & I weren't sure whether to continue on by road towards the Guinean border or try to get to the Bijagos Archipelago, Bolama in particular to meet a friend of Fatima's involved in cashew nut production. Steve had already found some guy at the port willing to get him to Bubaque cheaply on a 'boat' ...

Over another coffee, Gianni & I agreed to go with Steve and head out to Bubaque - I really felt it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Africa's only archipelago which was protected by a UNESCO bio-sphere agreement. We all headed for the port and Steve searched all over for the guy who had offered the boat ride. We sat on the dock for 2hrs or so getting hassled by endless 'boat captains', banana sellers and watching pelicans before this guy showed up with a man in a blue shirt we were all desperate not to get involved with ... he was after money! Another 3hrs on and our man had finally found the captain of the boat and Carlos, Bubaque's Chief of Police who was going home after 2 weeks on the mainland.

However, the man in the blue shirt was with us as we all walked across two navy patrol boats to finally find our boat and as Steve jumped on board I smelt a rat. The price still hadn't been agreed and our man and the blue shirted official seemed too friendly, especially as Mr Blue Shirt had offered us a boat for 200,000CFA earlier. I asked Steve to find out the price .. the guys refused to answer him and were taking our packs away from us. By this time I'd lost it, they got a short sharp mouthful from me in French and I struggled to pull the three packs away from them ... after a bit of negoiation and some assistance from Carlos, the price was agreed at 15,000CFA - but until we got to Bubaque the three of us had been wondering the same thing - was it 15,000CFA each or between us - would there be another argument? It was between us luckily!
It was now early afternoon and we'd previously been told it was a 4hr boat ride to Bubaque but the captain assured us that we'd get there in just over 2hrs. We relaxed on board, the guys fell asleep whilst I tried to keep out of the sun whilst we were whizzing past a lot of the Bijagos islands.
We went past some lovely looking hotels on Rubane, the island opposite Bubaque, catering to French fishermen before finally getting to the muddy port of Bubaque . Carlos introduced to his family and got one of the villagers to take us to 'Chez Titi'. We walked a little way and found ourselves deposited at Chez Dora's - a Portuguese run auberge. It was a little pricey for what it was but the owner told us that Titi was out of business (which wasn't actually true!). So we retraced our steps to Chez Raoul to be met by a lovely Senegalese lady and her family. We decided to share a room for 9,000CFA between us, including an extra matress she brought in.

No comments: