Sunday, 14 January 2007

Where to spend Christmas?

We arrived in Bissau's port on the pirogue, it docked at low tide against the concrete quay. The rush to get off was tremendous and we weren't in too much of a hurry so let them all go ahead of us. Philippe & Marie-Louise got off just ahead of me, Gianni was behind me and as I got to the edge of the boat.

The side of the pirogue was about 8 feet below the quay. There was luckily a piece of metal protruding out of one of the quay's upright struts. I put my foot on it to pull myself up onto the quay and as I did, the pirogue moved squashing me (with my pack on my back) against the quay - I called out for Philippe who I couldn't see and at the same time Gianni was telling me to get down, but my pack had me stuck on something and I couldn't go down, only up but with the pressure of the pirogue pushing me I was struggling to get breath. Luckily someone saw me and a lady a few feet away from me in the same predicament and pushed the pirogue away from the quay wall. I managed to crawl onto the quay and turned around to help Gianni up; who suffered from the same problem, I pushed the pirogue and pulled his pack off.

We walked up to the Cheche Guervara roundabout and back to our favourite cafe, had a coffee and started wondering where we would spend the night. It was the 24th December, tomorrow would be Christmas. It was already near 3pm and we were hoping to get to Xitole (pronounced Shithole-e!); we got a taxi to the Paragem (gare routiere) to find transport out towards Xitole and after asking around got the two front seats in a small truck to Bambadinca.
Whilst we were waiting for a few more passengers & goats, we met Mamadou, a French-speaking Guinea Bissaun. He was heading for Quebo to buy chickens for Tabaski, apparently it was cheaper to go all the way to Quebo than nearer the capital. We finally left the Paragem in the truck, passing fields of taped off land-mined zones still being cleared directly opposite the Paragem's entrance.

Half way to Bambadinca we were flagged down by a minibus driver & it's occupants. Our driver stopped, tried to fix the minibus and then told us he was going to stay with it and change drivers with the minibus. Our new driver was Guinea Bissau's answer to Schumacher, the other drivers on the road were crazy enough but this one was dying to get home it seemed despite Gianni & I telling him to slow down!

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