I had a wonderful wander through the forest this morning with some wild chimpanzees in Bossou forest and our two rangers Bonifacio and Laurey from the research facility. They threw sticks at us and played about. My photos are pants as the light is never fantastic in the forest, so the black blurs are cute chimpanzees frolicking. It was worth a visit if you happen to be in the region and at $55 is a bargain versus similar experiences in East Africa.
One of the truckmates is struggling with group dynamics so today he started drinking large beers at 8am, and he had knocked off 6 by 10am. Amusingly for the rest of us, he opened the beers with the ‘toilet trowels’ a.k.a the ‘shit shovels’ which we use to dig our individual loos. Odd! He promptly fell asleep when he got on the truck today which did save us from his ongoing monologue about his potential conversion to Islam – fuelled only by his desire to visit every county on the world, including Saudi Arabia. It takes all sorts!
We headed off to Nzerekore via Lola. The direct road to Lola is 18k, the long way is 40k, and apparently the direct road is impassable. When they say a road is impassable here, they really mean it! After Lola apparently there is that rare occurrence of a tarmac rd, we are looking forward to that.
We made it about 8k on the longer road and then the truck slid off the road. The road had looked fine but was deceptively slick. It took us about an hour and a half to dig ourselves back onto the road. It is like a bonus workout digging and lifting buckets of gravel to put under the wheels. For the first time everyone on the truck pitches in to help (historically there have been a few dirt avoiders).
The whole neighbouring village turned out to watch, I don’t think they are accustomed to seeing grubby Europeans digging up the roads as the only Europeans they see up here are aid workers in flash 4wds. Jason (the driver) is a legend, he is terrifically strong, always does 10 times more digging that anyone else, and stays upbeat in spite of all the unsolicited feedback he receives from other drivers and random passersby on how to best extricate the truck.
We made another 5k and came to a section where a truck had been stuck overnight. So, another three hours of digging. A great workout! We interrupted a bees nest so a few bites were had, Jason was stung 7 times and was still smiling.
The highlight was the view of Mt Nimba out to the left. We got going again around 4.30 just as the daily thunder and lightening storm kicked in. We raced the rain for the next hour flying over the bumps in the road. You definitely don’t want to be on the dirt road when the thunder storms come in, as we won’t be going anywhere …. Jason gave us a shout out periodically to warn of the bumps – we rate them as ”bumpy’, ‘bumpy bumpy’, and ‘bumpy as fuck’. We let out a celebratory cheer we 4.40 as we passed 15k distance for the day, beating our lowest day ever. Again, I could have walked further and faster :-), but that would have been less amusing
We finally hit some villages and the people were delightful, just like being back in Sierra Leone, except now they are shouting ‘Babu’ (which is my new word for white person), and everyone waves and smiles
The great joy of this way of travel is that you have to be entirely zen as nothing is in your control. You get to where you are going when you get there, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after. Worrying about it is entirely pointless and has no impact on the outcome.
By 6.30 we had reached Lola, and decided to push on until Nzerekore in spite of the dark. We reached the hotel Nimba at 8.30 and ordered dinner. It eventually arrived at 11.30, and was pretty good! There is a downside to being in a group of 19! Becky and I agreed to pay the extra 10 euros each for an ‘upgrade’ each night, and the room isn’t much of an upgrade…. apparently there is hot water but I am too scared to plug the tank in. It’s nice to sleep in a bed though.
Nzerekore November 29, 2016