Monkeying around for New Year

Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
Trip End Jan 11, 2014

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Where I stayed
Mount Nimba Chimpanzee Reserve

Flag of Guinea  , Nzerekore Region,
Saturday, December 28, 2013

Back in Guinea we were heading towards Bossou and our chance to trek to see the wild chimpanzee's.  We stopped in a small town to fill the truck up with water which we did at a local pump and also managed to find slabs of beer to make sure we were stocked up for New Year.  After a snack of the best fried doughnuts so far we hit the road stopping at lunch time by a nice river to give us all a chance to wash.

The river had woken us all up so after lunch we decided to open the slabs of beer and start the party early.  We played a few games of 21 followed by Roxanne.  As we rolled into the next village I spotted a "Borto/white person" in the crowds and then realised it was Jess.  The missing girls had arranged with Steve to be picked up early to make sure they were with us for New Year.

Bush camp was yet again another long bush camp with a visit from the local police.  This time they were paid with a shirt and shorts from Steve, at this rate he'll have no clothes left.  We feasted on a delicious plantain stew and as I was a bit tipsy I bailed early and went for a tent gossip with Becci instead.

Another morning and another village to stop off and try to find some vegetables for cook group.  We found a covered market that actually had some veg so stocked up with onions, yam, okra and tomatoes.  I  also found my favourite meat-on-a-stick and some fried plantain for my elevenses.  

The road to Bossou was beautiful, including a very dubious log bridge, and swept us up into the rainforest.  We were told to keep our eyes out for elephants but didn't manage to spot any.  We arrived at Mount Nimba Nature reserve late afternoon which is next to the small village of Bossou.  At our campsite there were about 20 local kids so we played frisbee and football with them and Keera got out her bubbles which went down well.   I was on cook group with Becci and Ash so we put up our tents and got cracking.  It was just a one pot stew and rice which was ok but definitely not my favourite.  I finished the night with a nice foot soak in a bucket, trying to get rid of some of the ingrained dirt.

We served the group some muesli and fruit for breakfast while everyone was trying to get ready for their chimp treks.  We were told we had to wear long trousers and long sleeves and were off to find the family of 9 that lived nearby.  I was in the second group and we had to wait a while as the first group were struggling to keep up with the chimps as they were on the move.   When we finally joined up with them we were just in time to see 2 chimps climb down the tree into the dense undergrowth but the old boy was still up a tree so we watched him for a while.  It turns out this group had separated from the main group so this was all we were going to see.  It was a bit disappointing not to see more but it was lovely to see them in the wild going about their own business.

Back in camp the first thing I wanted to do was take a shower, the shower consists of a water pump and a bamboo shelter.  You would have to fill up a bucket from the pump and go behind the shelter to shower, it was better than bush camping so couldn't complain. 

The kids in camp seemed to have multiplied so today we had about 60 kids running around us.  We showed them the Hokey Kokey and a few other songs while they sang us their national anthem.  Nick was asking for a haircut so Jess obliged by giving him a mohawk which actually really suits him.  After a few games of cribbage with Matt we went to the field next door to the camp to watch the local team play football.  

Bossou were playing a nearby village for New Year and everyone seemed to have turned up to the event.  Bossou were in red Bayern Munich kits while the others were in blue Chelsea kits.  The football was not too bad even though it was on an awful pitch on a hill with footpaths and bushes running through it.  Bossou were 3-1 up at half time and came and celebrated in front of us as if they had won the champions league.  I think it was more to try to upset the 5 away supporters who were stood next to us. The footie ended 3-1 and we headed back to camp for dinner.  Ishi had organised for a couple of local ladies to make us a local dinner.  We were given a gorgeous beef and cassava leaf curry with rice.

Today was New Year's eve, we were given a lie in and then some fresh warm doughnuts rolled in sugar so the day started well.  After doing my washing I joined the others as they decided to play some games.  Becci had set up an obstacle course which involved climbing over and under poles, chair, through the ghetto bug, over a ladder while carrying an orange on a spoon.  Following the orange and spoon race it was some koala training which involves someone standing like a tree with someone else on their back.  The person who is being a koala has to climb around the tree to the front and then to the back without touching the ground.  It's a lot harder than it sounds although Kim made it look easy.  

I took a walk into town with Becci and Jess to have a look around, most of the village was pretty quiet due to New Year but we stopped at a little hut for a coffee and an egg sandwich.  We also had a look in one of the bars that we had agreed to visit for the evening.  We had asked the owner if he had cold beer and he promised us that he would go over the border to Liberia this afternoon to get us some ice.

Back in camp we started celebrating New Year, the first one was for the Ozzie contingent at 1pm, then 2pm, 3pm and 4pm including Susumi in Japan and Fu in China.  That lead us to the women's football at 4.30pm in the field next door.  I really wanted to watch this hoping that it would be entertaining and entertaining it was.  I don't think any of the ladies had ever played football before.  It was like watching a kids games where 20 people run after the ball.  It was hilarious, the crowds were just laughing at the women every time they miss kicked the ball.  It was great fun even if the game ended up 0-0. 

By this time the camp was completely overrun with kids, we had over 100 following us everywhere including our tents or the toilets.  Darren and Nick managed to keep most of them amused while some of us laid out on a blanket playing cards.  We looked up to find that we were obviously fascinating and the kids had surrounded us to watch us play.  It was all a bit bizarre.

 For the next celebrations we headed to the bar and celebrated at 10pm, 11pm and midnight.  The bar keeper was true to his word and had bought in the ice to keep the beers cold.  We filled the bar and unfortunately seemed to drive some of the locals away.  I wanted to celebrate midnight on the truck so left with a group to head back to the truck.  At midnight we did the usual hugs and broke out into our rendition of Auld Lang Syne.   About 2 minutes into our song one of the young grumpy researchers came over to the truck and told us "I know it's midnight and New Year but can you keep the noise down"  I was livid and shouted a fair few expletives at her including telling her to get a life and that she was a sour face b*tch!!  She had already moaned a few times in the day time about us having too much fun!

Obviously following that we decided to liven up the party so the music was turned up and we welcomed everyone who came back to the truck with very loud "HAPPY NEW YEAR's"!  That'll teach her :oD

After our party we were given a New Year's day lie in which was needed.  Beans on toast was for breakfast before another stunning drive through the rainforest as we headed towards the Ivory Coast border.  Due to the rain that we had had last night the roads were tough going.  At one point Steve got stuck on a hill and we had to reverse a few times so that he could take a big enough run up.  We finally made it with lots of tyre smoke, it turns out that a huge chunk of tyre had come off so we'd have to change the wheel.  

It was a brilliant drive day, although a lot of us were tired and hungover the villages we drove through picked us up.  Everyone was in their Sunday best, little girls in frilly bridesmaid type dresses, little boys in suits and the men and women in their crazy bright African dresses and suits.  All the kids in all the villages seemed to be wearing flourescent sunglasses, I have no idea what that was all about.  We even ended up giving a lift to one of the locals.  He was still in last nights glam outfit and asked us to drop him off at the next village.

We arrived at the border at 4pm but had the usual problems with the Guinea police and we didn't manage to leave until 6.30pm after Steve had had to pay them off.  They also had decided they liked the look of Jyoti on the truck so asked for her to do all of the dealings following up by marriage proposals and requests of phone numbers etc.  Steve had handed them an envelope of cash but had deliberately short changed them so drove the truck off as they were still counting the money.

Next we had to try to get into the Ivory Coast and this time the police couldn't have been any friendlier.  As we didn't have time to cross this evening they told us to pitch our tents near the buildings and gave us free run of their showers and toilets.  The main man was brilliant, he took off his military style coat to reveal his bright red tracksuit which happened to be a Man Utd training kit!  He then opened up his cool box and offered us all his dinner.  We refused but he insisted so we all had a taste and assured him we had our own dinner.  He then refused to let us go without ensuring we all had a piece of a big watermelon that he cut up for us.  What hospitality!!

I was tired and really couldn't be bothered to put up my tent so decided to sleep on the beach in the truck.  I was very glad I did as at about 4am the heavens opened.  The policemen woke up and were brilliant and helped those in sansbugs by moving them into shelters.

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