Sunday, 14 January 2007

Dalaba for Tabaski & New Years

We left the hotel that had cost us just over a euro each and went into town for breakfast at the same wonderful restaurant we'd found the night before, L'echelle des Marmottes ... did some shopping, internet and made a few phone calls home before setting off to find a taxi.
We got another Schumacher, in fact this one was so bad both Gianni & I yelled at him several times. In a Renault 21 there were 4 in the back, 4 of us in the middle seat and 4 in the front, plus 3 children and three on the roof! He got us to Mamou where we met a guy from the Cote D'Ivoire who did the dirty on us; stupidly I trusted him when he said he'd get his taxi filled soon. We waited in the heat for 2hrs with two women who'd arrived from Dalaba on their way home to Faranah for Tabaski. Several times I went out to look for him, he was nowhere to be found; he obviously wasn't intent on finding other passengers. Eventually he came back, I asked him what he'd been doing as we had been waiting, to cut a long story short, I managed to get the taxi for both of us on our own for 45,000FG to Dalaba. Mamou has a reputation as it's the crossroads from the east and has a lot of refugees from the Cote D'Ivoire, Sierra Leone & Liberia, a lot of problems come with the refugees! We were glad to leave.

The taxi took us to Hotel Tangama in Dalaba. I left Gianni with the taxi & our packs and went to find a room; they were full, then there was talk about room 15 being free for 20,000FG between us. I went to look at it and Gianni came in with our packs. Meeting him back in the reception area he said 'there are white people here' - it hadn't occured to us before but the last people we'd seen had been on Bubaque! The hotel was full of Spanish & French, we were amazed!

The town had a great feel to it; we were above the town on the edge of an escarpment about a kilometre away. Walking into town everyone was very friendly and with Tabaski falling on 31st December in 2006 there was a very festive mood in the air!

We soon discovered that despite the Tangama being the 'steal' of Africa for it's prices, cosy sitting room with an open fire (needed as it was chilly at night!), TV (we had news for the first time from France - TV5!); it lacked a decent cook - or rather as the cook put it, he lacked ingredients. So we went to Auberge Seidy II where the owner was a very jolly man and went out of his way each time to create something special!

We spent the day walking around town and the area. We spent hours talking to a range of people, tourists, expats based in Conakry from Clermont Ferrand and at Auberge Seidy we met a French woman who had lived in Conakry for 18years whilst teaching at the French Lycee. Most of them were stuck due to the petrol shortage that had just started.

All over Guinea there are litre bottles for sale on the side of the road; dirty fuel usually but an alternative when a strike is on ... apparently there was a strike about to start (which did happen and approximately 100 lives were lost in Guinea on Monday 23rd January 2007). Eventually fuel turned up in Dalaba on 1st January, the day after Tabaski.

Tabaski was wonderful, everyone got dressed up, the girls hair was all braided specially for the day of feasting. Children were asking for money, it was the equivalent of Christmas and wonderful to share it with them!

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