Red dust and rocky roads..

Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
Trip End Jul 31, 2013

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Flag of Guinea  ,
Monday, December 17, 2012

Tim and I were on cook group and were making pan cakes for breakfast. As we were cooking on Genkos these days, a 7.30 departure time means a 5.30 start for the cooks if you're to have anything but toast and cereal. I really must start to plan a bit better.

At first it seemed the road had improved quite a bit but perhaps we were just getting used to it. Mid morning we reached a reasonably large river serviced by a barge that just seemed long enough to fit Mabel. The problem was, the river was quite low and the entry and exit point extremely steep. The boys played around with bits of wood until they had a ramp that would allow her to roll onto the deck without taking out the front end. It was then a challenge to position her weight so that the barge could float out of the mud on the bank - WITHOUT rolling off the other end. There was a bit of argy bargy as the locals tried to take the piss on the price of crossing as Drew played the obstinate South African. With years of experience in handling these kinds of situation it appeared to work, despite the fact that negotiations got a bit impolite at times and we were all squirming. With all the details ironed out and the barge able to float out two guys proceeded to winch us over by hand. I’m assured by those who know that the gearing made it easier than I imagined but it still seemed a mighty effort for two skinny Africans to transport a 17 tonne truck and its passengers by using a couple of cranks.

Whilst we were mightily thankful that there was no rain to muddy up the track, the flip side soon became obvious as we were soon covered in fine red dust. We all looked as if we had pancake orange stage makeup on and the grit stung our eyes and stained our clothes red.

Just as many of the passengers had reached their limit of tolerance, Drew pulled up alongside a clean flowing stream and announced it was swim time. I’ve never seen a group of people move so fast as they flew off the truck and into the water, clothes and all. I’m assured by many it is the best wash EVER! Amazing how your standards and priorities change. The mood went from stoic to blissfully happy in a mere 10 minutes.

Not long after we hit a road under construction. Ironically it was in better condition than the one that wasn’t and we started to make better time.  We wondered if it will ever become bitumen but once we actually reached the bitumen we hoped not, as there appeared to be more pot holes in taht one than road.

We reached Labe at about 4.30pm. It was too late to do a shop for cook group but not too late to find some cold beers/drinks to wet our dry and dusty throatsover dinner. We headed about 10 minutes out of town and pulled up just off the side of the road for camp. Tim and I managed to pull together a kind of risotto using stuff out of cans which definitely wasn’t the best thing we’d done but it filled a gap. The proximity to the road meant we had quite a few visits from inquisitive locals, including the police, during the night but at no point did we feel under threat. Guinea certainly was turning out to be interesting.
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