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Guinea Bike Trip

Guinea 001

The Guinea Journal Sunday, December 10 2:30 a.m. Conakry It's early in the morning or late at night depending on how you look at it. I went to bed around midnight but couldn't sleep. My ...
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Guinea 002

Sunday, December 10 Le Club Altesse, Conakry I must skip ahead in my story here. This is the first time I have ventured out by myself. It seems a small thing but it is not ...
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Guinea 003

Monday, December 11 8:51 a.m. I got up earlier than usual this morning (even though I had trouble sleeping last night), showered, and left the hotel. I followed the same path as yesterday except I ...
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Guinea 004

Tuesday December 12, 9:30 a.m. It turned out there was nothing sinister going on at the cinder block cafe. I was imagining that these men were recruiting soldiers to fight Foufana or forming their own ...
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Guinea 005

Wednesday, December 13 9:17 a.m. I'm back at the same cafe, Le Club Altesse, where I've started most of my days in Conakry. The short walk to get here does not overwhelm me anymore. Certain ...
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Guinea 006

Thursday, December 14 9:00 a.m. My first bike ride was a success in every way and I feel like the arrival portion of my journey is coming to a close. My Guinea has suddenly increased ...
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Guinea 007

Friday, December 15 11:15 a.m. I changed my pattern today and went out into Taouyah before my morning coffee. It was still cool and I wanted to take a look at the Taouyah market. Silly ...
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Guinea 008

Saturday, December 16 4:50 a.m. My second trip to see the rooms that are available for rent was strange but probably fairly typical for Guinea. At least I was the only one who seemed to ...
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Guinea 009

Sunday, December 17 9:10 a.m. Evidence continues to mount that I'm an idiot. I was in Sundar's shop yesterday when a heavyset Sierra Leonian woman struck up a conversation. She appeared to know Sundar quite ...
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Guinea 010

Monday, December 18 10:30 a.m. Taking this room and staying in Conakry an extra week has had the desired effect. I've ceased to obsess about getting on the bicycle and "go, go, going." I've relaxed ...
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Guinea 011

Tuesday, December 19 10:00 a.m. A deep fatigue settled over me yesterday. I stayed in bed till ten in the morning and then did very little throughout the day, returning often to La Vina to ...
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Guinea 012

Wednesday, December 20 10:25 a.m. My cold has arrived full force and I spent a difficult night dealing with a runny nose, a hotter-than-normal night, and a sudden increase in the mosquito population. Actually I ...
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Guinea 013

Thursday, December 21 9:21 a.m. I did eventually find the mysterious SPG that sold newspapers. I walked down the main road quite a distance looking for the letters SPG and popping into all the stores ...
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Guinea 014

Friday, December 22 9:00 a.m. I seem to have been unusually lucky in terms of the police. I've ridden my bike all over Conakry and haven't been stopped once by anyone for an ID check ...
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Guinea 015

Saturday, December 23 The build up and the walk to the cinema was certainly more entertaining than the movie itself which was a standard conspiracy flick with corruption going to the highest levels of government ...
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Guinea 016

Sunday, December 24 9:00 a.m. To my horror Conde wormed his way back into my life and into my thoughts yesterday. It was spectacularly bad timing because I had plans to leave Conakry this morning ...
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Guinea 017

Monday, December 25 8:30 a.m. Christmas Day in Guinea begins with the usual long, involved discussion about breakfast of which I understood nothing. Part of the problem is my poor understanding of spoken French but ...
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Guinea 018

Tuesday, December 26 2:00 p.m. Perhaps it was the Christmas spirit, perhaps it was the bicycle, perhaps everything I've read and everyone I've spoken to is wrong but I had no problems whatever cycling the ...
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Guinea 019

Wednesday, December 27 8:00 a.m. I haven't been able to find out as yet if the boy was seriously hurt or not. No one seems to know about that accident but me. Either the boy ...
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Guinea 020

Thursday, December 28 8:10 a.m. Waiting for Ali to show up or not last night I listened to the BBC and there were two reports on Guinea. One story reported that ECOWAS (Economic Community of ...
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Guinea 021

Friday, December 29 8:00 a.m. Without a guide like Ali my learning curve flattens considerably but even just hanging out I pick up on things. I keep my eyes open, watch, and take mental notes ...
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Guinea 022

Saturday, December 30 8:00 a.m. I came across Ali around 6:30 last night sitting in the chair of honor in the semi dark outside his house. He said that he had fallen sick to his ...
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Guinea 023

Sunday, December 31 - 2:30 p.m. Mambiya I imagine somewhere in the world there is a place more grim and dismal than the tiny room that was produced for me in Mambiya but I'd hate ...
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Guinea 024

Monday, January 1 10:00 p.m. Kindia Words may have failed me in describing my bed in Mambiya but when it comes to describing my first impressions of Kindia they run screaming from my pen like ...
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Guinea 025

Tuesday, January 2 9:00 a.m. The police checkpoints on the road continue to be a pleasant surprise. Each time I crest a rise and see the telltale cluster of vehicles and old rope pulled across ...
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Guinea 026

Wednesday, January 3 8:00 a.m. Yesterday was another sick day. I don't know what it was but it started when I arrived in Kindia with a low grade fever and the fever stayed with me ...
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Guinea 027

Friday, January 5 - 8:00 a.m. I find myself not exactly at a loss for words but unsure of which ones to use first. Not because the experiences of the last couple of days have ...
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Guinea 028

Sunday, January 7 8:45 a.m. I've been in Kindia nearly a week now and it's starting to feel like time to move on. But not today. Today I've been invited to a kind of memorial ...
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Guinea 029

Monday, January 8 7:23 a.m. I'm already showered, dressed, and drinking a cup of coffee made on my camp stove in the bathroom. No electricity yet this morning so I'm writing by candlelight. To begin ...
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Guinea 030

Tuesday, January 9 6:00 a.m. Yesterday was a day spent in a search for the mysterious land of "la bas." I don't know if this is a Guinean French word or if it exists in ...
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Guinea 031

Wednesday, January 10 7:00 p.m. On the road again, fifty-eight kilometres up the road from Kindia in the small town of Sogueta. There's no hotel here and I find myself camping out in the dirt ...
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Guinea 032

Thursday, January 11 12:00 Noon For the first night in my tent in Guinea (lying on top of it in Mambiya doesn't count) it was pretty successful. I didn't sleep the whole night through but ...
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Guinea 033

Friday, January 12 8:15 a.m. The plan was to spend only one night in Linsan and cycle to Mamou today but the plan has changed. "J'ai beaucoup de temps" has become my motto repeated over ...
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Guinea 034

Saturday, January 13 1:38 p.m. The turtle lives. I moved a scant twenty kilometres down the road from Linsan before I decided to call it a day. I thought I was in Konkoure, the only ...
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Guinea 035

Monday, January 15 8:00 a.m. I can add bed bugs to my list of pseudo new experiences. I thought I'd seen them, experienced them before but obviously before Guinea I hadn't. I didn't notice them ...
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Guinea 036

Tuesday, January 16 2:41 a.m. I was having trouble sleeping and decided to get up and have one of the world's best cheese sandwiches. It's very good. Unfortunately most of the mosquitoes in Mamou have ...
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Guinea 037

Thursday, January 18 7:39 a.m. Dalaba The dreaded cold that everyone warned me about has so far turned out to be more myth than fact. I find it quite mild this morning. Mamou felt much ...
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Guinea 038

Saturday, January 20 8:04 a.m. My legs are a pleasant surprise this morning. Jason and I went on a six hour hike yesterday that was a bit more than either of us had bargained for ...
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Guinea 039

Sunday, January 21 7:46 a.m. Dalaba is supposed to be a place of "beauty and repose" but though I appreciate the town's scenic qualities I can't quite master the repose part. I'm not sleeping well ...
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Guinea 040

Tuesday, January 23 3:13 p.m. Ditinn I asked Michel, the owner of the spotless and well run Tangama Hotel, if there was a hotel in Ditinn. A pained look came over his face. He had ...
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Guinea 041

Wednesday, January 24 7:00 a.m. I realize looking back that I didn't write very much in Dalaba even though I was there for six nights. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is ...
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Guinea 042

Thursday, January 25 6:00 a.m. It must be the nature of the hotel and room but Ditinn feels colder to me than Dalaba. That's strange though since Ditinn is 600 meters lower than Dalaba and ...
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Guinea 043

Friday, January 26 8:53 a.m. Pita The last day and a half has been a series of mysteries solved, discoveries made, and lessons learned. The first mystery was why "feh de manioc" was a bright ...
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Guinea 044

Saturday, January 27 4:00 a.m. Diaga I dislike writing in my tent and I don't know how long my back will hold out but I have no choice. There probably isn't a single solitary table ...
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Guinea 045

Sunday, January 28 10:25 a.m. Douki To say that I am deliriously happy would be an understatement. The reason for that happiness is my new home, a traditional Fula hut (with some decidedly Western twists) ...
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Guinea 046

Tuesday, January 30 8:26 a.m. I wouldn't say I was deliriously happy this morning. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to a deep contentment. I slept better than I have for weeks. I ...
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Guinea 047

Wednesday, January 31 8:30 a.m. It's market day at Dongol Touma and Hassan and most of the population of Douki is on their way there. I thought about going along but decided to stay here ...
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Guinea 048

Thursday February 1 9:11 p.m. What was supposed to be a pleasant four hour stroll down to the valley floor turned into a nine hour forced march. And there was nothing I could do about ...
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Guinea 049

Friday February 2 6:47 a.m. I tried to continue my journal last night but I was far too tired. I'm still tired this morning but I'm hoping a cup of coffee or two will perk ...
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Guinea 050

Saturday, February 3 9:00 a.m. Douki I got kicked out of my Fula Hut by a Frenchman who showed up out of nowhere and said he was with "two women from the embassy" who needed ...
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Guinea 051

Monday February 5 8:30 a.m. Telimele Everything I do in Guinea seems to be or at least feels like an escape of one kind or another and my departure from Douki felt like much the ...
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Guinea 052

Tuesday, February 6 8:00 a.m. My second chicken was even more minimalist than the first. This one didn't even come with a tomato. Just a knock on the door and a big white platter with ...
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Guinea 053

Wednesday, February 7 8:06 a.m. My concerns about the family's eating habits appear to have been misplaced a result perhaps of too many late night fund raising infomercials with Sally Struthers working up throaty sobs ...
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Guinea 054

Thursday February 8 5:23 a.m. I had dinner with Jessica and Greg last night but it wasn't a success. I don't know why but conversationally speaking we didn't hit it off. Perhaps it's because of ...
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Guinea 055

Sunday, February 11 6:30 a.m. Lelouma I'd like to go back in time, visit every one of my informants about the road from Telimele to Lelouma, and give them each a sharp little slap. And ...
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Guinea 056

Tuesday, February 13 - 8:00 a.m. Labe Every once in a while in the life of a cyclist a day comes along that is like a gift. Yesterday was such a day. It started early ...
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Guinea 057

Wednesday, February 14 5:47 a.m. The electricity in Labe stays on most of the time but it surges and drops off so constantly that the light in my room is more like a strobe light ...
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Guinea 058

Thursday, February 15 7:15 a.m. Dalaba From Labe to Dalaba is 95 kilometres of "goudron" and I zoomed through them in six and a half hours. After the rough roads of the previous days I ...
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Guinea 059

Friday, February 16 8:30 a.m. Yesterday was a day for taking stock of the pummelling that my gear underwent on my tour through the Fouta. Even in the first couple of days it was clear ...
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Guinea 060

Saturday, February 17 - Morning in Dalaba Today is my official goodbye to the Fouta Djalon. I'm leaving Dalaba, cycling to Mamou where I hope to leave a bag of extra stuff with the Forest ...
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Guinea 061

Monday, February 19 4:49 a.m. I'm awake even a bit early for me. That's because my bed finally collapsed at about 4:00 a.m. It was giving way bit by bit the whole night. Boards fell ...
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Guinea 062

Wednesday, February 21 2:00 p.m. Kouroussa If I was yearning for the hot plains I got my wish and then some. At first though I didn't think it was going to happen. I left Dabola ...
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Guinea 063

Thursday, February 22 1:30 p.m. Kouroussa is proving to be by far the most atmospheric and pleasant town I've encountered in Guinea. I set off on my bicycle early this morning when it was still ...
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Guinea 064

Friday, February 23 3:10 p.m. Kankan I have a room at Bate's Hotel in Kankan. First impressions matched the name and I immediately dubbed the fellow who showed me the pitch black rooms "Norman." I ...
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Guinea 065

Sunday, February 25 10:10 a.m. Kankan has turned me into an observer. Which I suppose isn't a bad thing. Most of yesterday I sat on the balcony watching the world go by. This was after ...
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Guinea 066

Monday, February, 26 2:30 p.m. I appear to be momentarily trapped in Kankan by a "manifestation." The plan was to go to the bank this morning, change money, and then head for the Forest Region ...
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Guinea 067

Thursday, March 1 3:00 p.m. Beyla I look at my map of Guinea and can see where I am but I can hardly believe it. There seems altogether too much space between Kankan and Beyla ...
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Guinea 068

Friday, March 2 7:22 a.m. My hands aren't much better this morning. Even simple tasks like shaving and opening a zipper are difficult. Pushing the play button on my walkman was almost too much for ...
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Guinea 069

Saturday, March 3 7:10 a.m. For the second morning in a row I've woken to the cheerful and welcoming sound of church bells. The sky seems a bit overcast meaning that this probably would have ...
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Guinea 070

Monday, March 5 8:39 a.m. Nzerekore When I left from Beyla I had no intention of getting to Nzerekore in one day. I'd gotten distance estimates ranging from one hundred and thirty-five kilometres to one ...
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Guinea 071

Thursday, March 8 - 8:35 a.m. Macenta I listened to the BBC the night before I left Nzerekore to come here to Macenta. I hadn't heard anything about Guinea and border fighting for a while ...
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Guinea 072

Friday, March 9 8:13 a.m. My initial favorable impressions of Macenta have not faded. Unlike Nzerekore it has a discernible center, a downtown where my hotel is conveniently located. It is ringed closely by jungle ...
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Guinea 073

Sunday, March 11 8:30 a.m. Kissidougou I'm tired this morning not having slept well last night. My dreams were filled with barrages and angry little men waving guns and shouting. Not surprising considering the day ...
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Guinea 074

Tuesday, March 13 7:42 a.m. Conakry I was supposed to meet the Sierra Leonians at the Nelson Mandela Hotel at 6:30 for an early start. Amadou, the driver, clearly felt his reputation as a driver ...
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Guinea 075

Friday, March 16 8:22 a.m. Yesterday I went to one of the little fly infested shacks on the market road for something to eat. The experience was a little picture of life in Guinea, perhaps ...
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Guinea 076

Saturday, March 17 9:55 a.m. I bought a book to take home with me. It's a kind of tourism book for Guinea with lots of pictures but also a bit of history and some practical ...
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