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My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the whole earth. I have look'd for equals and lovers an found them ready for me in all lands. I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them. - Walt Whitman

30 December 2019, Port Loko, SIERRA LEONE to Pamelap, GUINEA (CONAKRY), 62.7km 
Unnamed Guest House 50,000GNF (R75)


Exchange rate: Rand 1 (R): Guinean Franc 671 (GNF)

“White, money; white, money” OR “Give me money” OR “I want money” OR “Give me food / your bike” OR “Give me 5,000”. At what point do endless demands for money become harassment? Perhaps when you start to behave badly in response? Charl copes by telling himself, and me, that the demands are akin to “How are you?” … a relatively pointless form of greeting without any real expectation of a worthwhile response. I keep telling myself people have a right to say anything they like and that the style used is probably not intended to be as rude as it sounds to me. But, honestly, it is unpleasant to be treated like some sort of mobile money-dispenser, colouring all engagements with irritation. One oddity: both in LIberia and Sierra Leone, “morning” and “money” sound very similar, so one should dial back the irritation until sure whether “Yeah, mornee” is a greeting or a demand.
Again today, “Apoto” (white) rang out from every homestead we passed, the kids turning it into a chant echo-bounced off our approaching fronts and receding backs. Today, I also got “White boy, white boy, hello” - at least a variation on a theme.
Our maps, as has become the norm, are out, often by many kms. Both yesterday and today, we cycled longer distances than declared. Luckily today, the road remained good, the shoulder wide, the terrain manageable, and the traffic limited. Also, it has been a little cooler the last couple of days; not cool, but cooler.
We had arrived in Port Loko with limited Leones and began today with just 37,000 remaining. Enough to buy boiled eggs and some softdrinks, but we arrived at the border broke and super thirsty. Unusually, one long building contained both the Sierra Leone immigration and the Guinea. Usually, border crossings require visits to several separate buildings with a noticeable distance to cross between the two countries. This time we needed a simple stamp out, though this was done in a quiet office seated in front of the Chief Immigration Officer, who completed some brief details in a logbook. And a simple stamp in, after our passports had been scanned and some brief details added to a rare computer system. Shortly before reaching the border, we were stopped at a police roadblock where an officer asked for our passports. He opened his logbook, then took our passports. When he realised we were from South Africa, he put away his logbook, saying: “You are African, this book is for foreigners”. He told us a 71-year old cyclist had passed through yesterday, headed south….
We had been approached by a money changer with a decent rate on the Sierra Leone side of the border and had exchanged $40 for Guinean Francs, similar to the West African Franc. As soon as we cleared Guinean immigration, we were able, therefore, to buy a cold Coke and Fanta from a young woman hawking drinks from a blue icebox.
Our guest house is completely unadvertised, the entrance hidden between two small stalls. Once we had wheeled our bikes across the open drain and through a metal door, we were pleased to find a calm and shady courtyard, and a cheap and relatively comfortable room. We don’t mind this level of (dis)comfort when the price is low; it is when we are asked for $20 for a similar quality that we feel Africa is often over-priced. Our hostess kindly went out and purchased rice and meat in a hot soup for us, returning with our meal in two white pots patterned with flowers. In the courtyard is a circular, open-sided prayer room with mats laid out for kneeling on. Since arriving, we several times heard a lone man quietly saying “Allahu akbar”, and this evening a bigger group arrived for quiet prayers.
We went out into the dark streets tonight to snack on icecream in a plastic cup and meat kebabs, and to change more dollars. A pleasant evening. While out the lights went out. I was amazed that there was not a collective groan, assuming that either it was a planned outage or that outages are too normal to warrant comment. When the lights came on again shortly after we had gone to bed, I did hear a collective cheer.

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…



Pamelap Hotel entrance, Pamelap
Pamelap Hotel entrance, Pamelap
Pamelap Hotel courtyard, Pamelap
Pamelap Hotel courtyard, Pamelap
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