Journey to the unknown (Excerpt-2)

AK-47 automatic rifles were widely used by the...

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Pic du Fon, national reserve, Nzerekore

du Fon, national reserve, Nzerekore

The driving had been rough, we left early morning from the town of Nzerekore.
Nights in this forsaken place can be dangerous.

Armed robbers sometimes attack Hotels, private homes of the few, on site, affluent inhabitants frequently.
We were extremely lucky we had influential friends in high places.
The provincial governor Mr. Fofana was instructed by Conakry to assist us wherever he could.Our private presidential guard, jungle warfare specialist Sergeant Mohammed was on our side throughout our visit, day and night.
It was he who was instructed by high places in Conakry to look after our security and he lived up to his promise. His AK 47 slung from his shoulders, his red beret signaling the attachment to the Elite forces, was impressive, to say the least.
He had earned my confidence and friendship within few days we stayed in Nzerekore.
Traveling through this thick, lush rainforest was everything else but a joyride. Since departing at 6 a.m. we had done roughly 100 km in nearly 8 hours.
Large, rain covered mud holes, stretches of muddy, red – cloned laterite road was what the Guineans call a good road. And it was the main south – north route.

40 meters of treacherous, unknown, brownish mud water filled puddles turned each km of road into a nightmare.
Getting stuck like in Gpakbleu was a horror dream I would not like to repeat.

Apart from the lurking surprises, nature was all around us, tropical, virgin forest, unforgivable, untamed, yet with tantalizing beauty. Throughout my years in Africa had I never seen such scenery of unspoiled nature.

To stop in all this was dangerous, as we heard of armed gangs of smugglers plying the roads day and night for lookouts of prey. Travelers had been robbed, passengers of vehicles vandalized, brutalized.

This frontier was like the Wild West. No police would make it here, you are on your own, all the way. Luck, timing, survival behavior, tactics, and divine protection are all imperative on a journey like ours.

Near us shouts of Toucans, disappearing into the forest.

Close to 14.00 p.m. we reach Boula, a dwelling in the nowhere land.

Our exhaust had been ripped off by the time we ride into the small town. The local welder sat near his home, harvesting red and yellow sweet potatoes.

He smiled when we arrived. Judging from the condition of the road, the welding shop was set up at the right location here.
Here, in the middle of nowhere, the welding mechanic showed us a new meaning of the term innovation.
Lacking a public power grid, arc welding is impossible, to say the least. An old genset, made in the Soviet era was the source of his power.

An advance of 2000 Francs was enough to procure 2 beer bottles of gasoline to run the equipment.
By controlling the throttle manually he compensated for the increased demand for power when the arc welding was in full swing. It was a view hitherto unseen, we were astonished by such ingenuity.

Without a transformer he carried on the welding task, using the winding coils of the genset directly connected to the welding clamp and ground. Amazing how deprivation can shape the life of the clever minded.
The finale came when we were invited to a plate of hot, steaming yellow and red sweet tasting, potatoes, courtesy of the lady of the house. The little garden, the friendly faces, the simple, yet ingenious minds, and the welcome meal had done wonders to our bodies and minds.
Saying goodbye, we knew that we would probably never meet again in our lifetime.Yet, our memories will not fade. We found kind, hospitable people in this economically deprived area, in the middle of nowhere.

: On the road to Beyla….
Excerpts from : A
journey to the unknown, by HR, part 2

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