Friday, 29 March 2013

Trucking through wild, wild Guinea

[Photo album - click here]


"Too hot for you, no"
"Please, I'll be fine, please!"
They gave in. I lodged my foot on top of the huge wheel and climbed up the side of the truck, throwing my backpack on top of the packages which filled the large cage. I was met with twenty pairs of wondering eyes;
"Toubob! Hahaha!" a man laughed.

That was how my day began on the Senegalese border to Guinea. I had found my ride to the capital city Conakry, but just needed to make it through the border controls. Everyone else riding on the truck had an easy flash-of-ID-card passing, so waiting around for a British woman with an international passport caused delays. A young man named Jalou gladly accompanied me through each border inspection, giving me reassurance that the truck wouldn't leave without me. I wasn't the only one to blame for the slow start though; the driver had documents to show for the truck, then kept changing his mind about what time was best to drive that day. After much deliberation, we eventually set off at 6pm, ten hours after I first convinced them to take me. I knew then that this would be a long, long journey.

The sun set pretty soon after that, so I assumed there was nothing to see. I laid down flat to try to get some rest but was instead distracted by something marvellous. The gigantic trees sprawled their massive branches above the slowly moving truck and silhouetted against the light of the full moon. I laid there in awe at the beauty I was witnessing until I fell asleep late in the night.

Wack! I was awoken by a bunch of leaves hitting my face; the trees branches were too low, or the truck was too high. For the rest of the night we had to drive at snails pace, jolting awkwardly from side to side. This was when the branch dodging was easy for us on top of the truck. It was impossible, though, when the driver lost all patience, slammed on the accelerator disregarding the holes and bumps, and sped up and down the winding hills. It was so dangerous, but incredibly exciting!

By the morning, I was so tired, but again too distracted to sleep, by the marvellous sights around me. The nature surrounded the road and continued all the way to the horizon in every direction. The trees were bigger than gigantic; like there is more carbon dioxide here than there ever has been on Earth. The colours of the trees, bushes, and the plants touched every shade of green yellow, red, and blue that ever existed. Rounded hills rose up and down forming perfect lines with the blue, fluffy-clouded sky. The sun shone brightly down causing shadow in places but giving life to everything. The awesome reality of it all gave me shivers at every turn. I learned the true meaning of Mother Nature. Yes, she deserves capital letters.

Tiny villages occasionally dotted the roadside. Around ten mud-brick thatched-roof houses made up a typical village. We stopped at some when people got hungry on the truck. Jalou always took me with him to where we could get something to eat and drink. We chatted as much as we could - with my bad French and his bad English. At one point he asked if I would come home with him when we reached the city; he would like his family to meet me.

Three days this adventure lasted. And what an adventure it was! At any point I, or anybody else, could have fallen off the top of the truck, be it whilst enjoying the scenery by day or whilst sleeping by night. Nothing bad happened so, of course, it was completely worth the risk. I even made a truck family; we laughed together when anybody got hit by a branch and slept together all tangled up every night. And most of all, I got a breathtaking, three day view of Guinea's awe-inspiring nature.

[Photo album - click here]