Lynn & David travelling in West Africa travel blog

Lynn near the pool Cap Skirring, Senegal

"Shoe shop" en route to Bissau

Pirogues, Bissau Harbour, Guinea-Bissau

Lynn, Bissau Harbour, Guinea-Bissau

Harbour and rubbish, Bissau Harbour, Guinea-Bissau

Welcome beer for lunch, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Old Town, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Vultures in the city rubbish, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Wednesday 27th March 2013

Ziguinchor to Cap Skirring

Left the hotel in Ziguinchor and headed towards the beach where we were seeking out accommodation. It was only a couple of hours drive. On the way we saw a man who had obviously just finished slaughtering some beast – we didn’t look too closely. He was surrounded by a number of dogs and dozens of vultures all vying for scraps. A dog and a vulture even had a bit of a fight. We stopped for about 10 minutes on the side of the road which upset a policeman from the next checkpoint who started to walk up the road towards us. Jason, our driver, had to go down and ‘discuss’ the issue. He managed to talk his way out of a fine and we continued on our way. The hotel we tried first was no longer open so we moved on to Les Hibiscus, a four star hotel right on the beach near Cap Skirring, a very nice beach area in the southern part of Senegal. The other guests were all French – this area is very popular with them especially as French is the official language. We were going to camp but most of the rest of the group decided to upgrade to rooms, so we set up our tent (only 3 tents were put up) in the shade of a palm tree. Our cook group prepared lunch and after lunch David then went for a swim in the hotel pool while Lynn sat by the pool in the shade (the water wasn’t warm enough for her to swim). It was very pleasant and because there was good wifi, we posted the blog. Whilst David was doing that Lynn went for a walk along the beautiful beach and had a paddle. Later in the afternoon we sat down in the shade overlooking the beach. It was a beautiful spot. We then had to prepare dinner, with Ian, which took us ages because the wind kept blowing out one of the 2 gas burners – after dinner we both had a shower and then joined the Wednesday evening entertainment at the hotel. We had a couple of drinks and then danced next to the pool (it was pretty bizarre dancing in Senegal…..) then headed back to our tent to bed at around 11pm.

Thursday 28th March 2013

Cap Skirring, Senegal to Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Headed off from our beautiful beach site away from the coast and back towards Ziguinchor. We managed to get lost in this town (only 4 blocks square) but finally proceeded towards the Senegal/Guinea-Bissau border, getting lost a couple more times on the way. The day was fine and hot (got up to about 36-37C today) as we approached the border. Got through from Senegal really easily then took about an hour and a half to get through the other side into Guinea-Bissau. The nonsense they go on with is amazing. It is so bureaucratic…. Anyway, finally we drove through the countryside (quite different from Senegal) towards the capital, Bissau. We stopped for lunch off the truck en route. There are a number of large rivers and many mango plantations, lots of cashew trees, with nuts for sale alongside the road. We reached Bissau at around 4.30pm and searched around for a hotel to stay in and after a couple of false starts, settled in a fairly basic hotel. We were told the hotels are full because the cashew nut buyers are in town. We have a double bed with a bathroom, so we have washed our clothes and had a (cold) shower and an aperitif and headed out to dinner with the group at around 7pm. Quite a nice restaurant in the town and back to the hotel by about 9.45pm and to bed. This is really a very pleasant city, very small and we are in a hotel in the old part of town, where the buildings are mostly from the Portuguese colonial era.

Friday 29th March 2013

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Today we had a yogurt and juice for breakfast, from the corner shop, and then walked up to the Guinean Consulate a few blocks away with the other two people who hadn’t already obtained their Guinea visas. When we arrived a very nice man in the consulate assisted us and we completed the forms, paid our money ($A59 each) and within 15 minutes had our visas stamped into our passports. He was so helpful and the visas cost less than half what the Americans and Canadians on the trip had to pay for theirs. We then had a coffee in a café together with a banana bought from a lady in the street to celebrate. People selling things came up to us all the time, so Lynn also bought some cashews from a lady who had them in a bowl – we had to supply our own bag…. It is the cashew season. They are absolutely everywhere in buckets, plastic bags and dishes for sale. Today we decided to explore the city. It is relatively small, but very old (think faded glory crumbling colonial buildings and you almost have it, but added are the distinctive African smells, rubbish, holes in the footpath and general grunge). However, it is really quite a charming place, the people are very welcoming. They chat to you as you walk along – they speak a mixture of French, Portuguese and many other dialects so not many have any words of English, so we laugh and say bon jour, or hello and say we can’t speak much French – just a little – un peu – but it’s not too hard to be pleasant to everyone. We walked down to the port, where there was a fish market plus all manner of other things on sale. There were scores of pirogues moored near the market with lots of women showing off their freshly caught catch. The fish all looked really good and probably most will be eaten tonight. Everywhere you go in West Africa there are colourful markets with ladies in bright coloured dresses and scarves selling things, chatting and generally having a good time. We took photos trying to pick up the ambience of the place. It’s not easy to tell from a photo just how a place is, but this place is quite evocative and easy to like. On the way back up from the port and market, we had lunch, roll with cheese and a beer, in a little patisserie run by a couple of Portuguese men who had the Portuguese news on TV direct from Lisbon. It was a bit weird seeing it raining in Portugal and they were talking about the Easter road toll. We then walked up through the town and out to a market we had seen yesterday on the way into the city, about 2-3kms walk – it was quite hot by now and we bought a really nice African outfit for Lynn and a singlet for David. The African boys (about 18-20yo or so) dressed Lynn and then wanted their photo taken with Lynn (who doesn’t?), so it was fun. Walked back to the town and then went up to the fort, one of the most interesting in West Africa, but you are not allowed to take photos or go in so we just spoke to the soldiers standing guard outside and had a few laughs with them. Back to the hotel for an aperitif before dinner which is at the restaurant next door tonight. We sat out in the street in tghe cool. It was amazing.

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