Dusk sets in when we reach Beyla.
In 1870, this town was a centre for the French colonial diamond mining companies, today the government still maintains mines here.
After nearly 12 hours on unpaved roads, exhaustion has overwhelmed me. The town will be our stopover for the night.
Hotels are scarce here, luxury an unknown phrase. Our Hotel lies on the main road and looks as if time
has stood still.
A reminder of what once was. It’s foyer tells the full story of days gone by.
This Hotel has not seen a fresh coat of paint in decades. Windows hang out of their angles, the staff phlegmatic, disinterested, makes our choice not to stay here an easy one.
After combing the old town, we find our choice of Guesthouse. The rooms are the cheapest i ever came across in my entire life.
At 4 US$ a night, one can not expect a suite. That’s all we get tonight, no choices in Beyla.
Toilet and showers are adjacent to the right, an inner urge tells me to shower before darkness.
In the middle of the bush, it is not uncommon to have encounters with Cobras, especially in the dark. Snakes are night hunters.
They look for prey when darkness sets in and are most aggressive in the early morning, on their way back to their Burroughs.
It is unwise to cross path with them on such occasion, to say the least.
The rooms are tiny by all standards, as always I brought my own linens.
By the time we take our dinner it is pitch dark. A limited choice consisting of beef kebabs, steak and potatoes is all what is available on the menu.
The town has no power supply, the 5 hp generator is a small miracle here. Ice cold Coke tastes wonderful and is being consumed in multiple amounts this evening.
The Hotel is not large, 6 guestrooms, a restaurant, and to our surprise boasts a disco. Guinean beats
blare at us from the onset, we decide to withdraw after dinner.
The moon is rising and a spectacle of hitherto unseen beauty unfolds in front of us.
Situated in mountainous terrain at an elevation of above 1500 meters, we enjoy an unspoiled view of the dark sky above.
If anything I remember remarkable about Beyla, it is the nightly sky with the most magnificent display of stars i must have encountered.
As if reachable by stretching out your arm, we observe this unforgettable show of Nature.
After hours of this marvelous display, planets and comets, I notice the time close to midnight, i intend to retire.
The last guests have now left after dancing the last beat with their companions. All Motorbikes have disappeared.
Midnight passes, the gen set is shut down and almost suddenly there is a deadly calm about the whole township.
Only in the distance a shimmer of light, from the Beate Vergine Hospital which is the only foreign run Hospital
here and graciously has a power plant of its own.
The thundering noise coming from a nearby vicinity awakes me in an instant.
The Maleenke drums have spoken, its voices reaching 30, 40 km with ease. Standing on tall feet, the large bodies reach
2 meters and if struck by the wooden sticks, can make the floor shake under you.
The drums were the only messaging instruments in the olden days, and today are still used. Their rhythms change, in various forms to try and bring about their messages.
The whole town comes alive once again, the drums pouncing forth and forth, sending their message from village to village.
To sleep under such conditions is almost impossible.
Hard to believe, yet realistic, I find myself in a semi-sleep state, on and off, the whole night through till 4.00 a.m.
Then, as it started, the drums are silent.
All through this spectacle I was worried. As everywhere in Guinea, anything can happen. No authorities guarantee
your safety, no soul asks for you should you disappear.
You can die because of a tiny mistake, for a few bucks sake. I wonder, if I was right to carry a large sum of cash hidden in my small pillow i sleep on. Not a wise move I figure.
But in these parts of the world, credit cards or checks are unknown. You can change Dollars everywhere, dealers abound.
5.00 up. Morning toilet, my Nokia LED shows me the way.
I finish showering and we leave. It is 05.30 a.m. Barrages (barriers) manned by the Customs, Gendarmerie and Police is one thing i dread.
This time I am lucky, the barrier is totally abandoned, and I am on my way to Kankan.
I cannot get the sound of the drums out of my ears, and this phenomena will hunt me for a long time.
The morning mist and its cool air invigorating, its freshness and purity unsurpassed.
I inhale the pure air deeply and see the dawn on the horizon.
A red sky opens up ahead of us by the time we have long passed the outskirts of Beyla.
Our way is long, there are unknown perils ahead.
a journey to the unknown, Excerpts 3….