Day 29… Sunday 30th April
Greta sustained minor damage to her undercarriage yesterday and has sprung a leak (oil? power steering fluid?). We purchased oil, topped her up and hoped she would manage a 5 hour journey to Conakry and a garage for repairs. Tarmacked roads with some large potholes for the entire route – what a smooth comfortable ride today! Several police stops but no issues. Plenty of palm trees and palm oil being sold at the roadside. Witnessed a vicious goat on goat fight. The drive time was 5 hours but the traffic and driving conditions going into Conakry were horrendous – it added 2 more hours to a long day. Plenty of motorbikes to contend with and the heat was intense. Dripping in sweat and wiping your face with a cloth every few minutes is the only way to cope and avoid stinging eyes. Booked into a 5 star hotel to recover from the last 3 days. Completely forgot to use deet today and my ankles got mullered. Along with a nasty heat rash and a bout of diarrhoea (sorry too much information), feeling a little jaded. Time to chill…
This was not a fun day’s drive. Time wise it was very long, but that wasn’t the issue. Whilst todays road was at least tarred… mostly, we encountered lots of traffic and slow trucks making the journey very slow. It’s quite amusing though when you go from shooting along at 80kph then enter a village/town where the market consumes the road and you’ll crawling at 10kph dodging cars, people, and motorbikes.
We did encounter a police stop at one point, with the chap looking very stern to begin with, turned friendly quickly enough. We know now to show my drivers licence, carnet, insurance, and visas. This worked with this chap and he quickly let us go. I confess that not using French, pleading a little stupidity to them, and smiling whilst bombarding them with paperwork seems to do the trick.
But the bit that finally got to me was Conakry. Dakar was bliss in comparison. Dakar moved and albeit busy you could at least get around it. Conakry is a mess of lorries, motorbikes, tuk-tuk’s, bad roads, and more. The main road into the city goes from two lanes to three to one to two to……. It’s a mess, with various markets consuming the street, broken down vehicles blocking the way, and beggars galore. You have to constantly look everywhere for mini buses driving at you, motorcycle taxis squeezing there way past happy to hit/kick your car in the process if they ‘think’ they have priority. We had several police officers stop us for nothing, chatting to us in French, and again I present things, look stupid and they let us go. And also our road to the hotel was closed, but after seeing a local ignore it and drive down the other road with oncoming traffic past a Police officer I went for it and followed. Hallelujah that worked, with the Police not in hot pursuit, and only missing one car coming straight at us. By the time we arrived and I got out of the car I was dripping in sweat, stinking, and very grouchy.
I was very grumpy by the end of this day, and felt bad for Rach. Thankfully there was wine and air con at the hotel.
Now… where can I get Greta washed?