Sunday, 14 January 2007

Goodbyes in Labe

Knowing that the petrol crisis was over we wanted to move onto Labe. There were three English girls at the Tangama all with VSO in Gambia. One of them had travelled before in Africa, the other two hadn't and were disturbingly naive. Gianni & I decided to go with them to Labe and between us shared a 7 seater Peugeot, with the driver able to sell the three front seats and we paid for the rear two rows.
We had an easy journey to Labe with a calm driver, a friend of Mohammed, the owner of the Tangama. The Hotel Independance was directly behind the gare routiere so we all trooped in and got two rooms for 35,000FG a room. The rooms were enormous, both had two queen sized beds and an en-suite bathroom, unfortunately our shower didn't work so we were back to douche Africaine after the 'tepid' showers we had at the Tangama. The idea was the Gianni would head back to Conakry with a night in Kindia alone, I would head towards the Senegalese border possibly via Mali-ville with one of the VSO girls. However, I had picked up an awful cold near Boke and wasn't too keen going up in altitude and losing the heat that I wanted at night, Labe's nights were cold enough!
Gianni & I went off to change money. Having found the bank we were perplexed as to the way of changing money here. The bank told us to go and change it on the black market. Sure enough the street outside the bank was full of money changers. We haggled with a few before finding one that would change a euro at 8,600FG. The town was also desperately short of cafes & restaurants; there seemed to be one 'decent' one Le Petit Dakar until we found a new Lebanese restaurant opening opposite on the top floor. Fantastic place, great food, the decor was incredible and the staff tried their best.It was my last chance in Guinea to get some presents for people at home, so much of our three days in Labe were spent in the market. Buying some indigo cloth, I had a skirt made up and a dress for my goddaughter in NZ. The market was suprisingly good, enormous and lots to see! The night before our last day, Gianni remarked that at least this year, unlike in Mauritania last year, my eye hadn't been bitten & swollen up. Horror of horrors, I woke up the next morning with a swollen eye again. I couldn't believe it, neither could Gianni who couldn't stop laughing at me! After sending out an SOS e-mail, I took an anti-histamine that seemed to do the trick!Our final night in Labe we went back to the Lebanese restaurant. Both of us wanted to have an early night so that we could make an early start in the morning. Labe is Guinea's main town in the north, I was still undecided which way to enter Senegal, via Koundara or via Koumbia to Kedougou. Asking in the restaurant I got advice from the waitress who said that the road to Koundara was dreadful and that I'd be better going via Koumbia. She told me to meet her at 8am at the restaurant and she'd take me to the gare routiere.We got up early, had a coffee at the hotel and I said goodbye to Gianni; after 3 weeks of travelling together it was weird to be heading off alone again, he was going to get ready to go to Kindia alone ...

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