By Dan Grec
For my first night I make my way to the coast, aiming to stay at a hotel/restaurant run by an Italian that was aiming to sail around the world. When he arrived in Guinea-Bissau he loved it so much he decided to stay instead, and has been here ever since. Unfortunately it’s all closed up for the rainy season, and the owner is in Europe, though luckily the kind caretaker lets me camp on the grounds for free – darkness is falling and I have no other option.
In the morning I decide to drive right across the country, aiming to visit some Chimpanzees near Quebo, in the far South-East corner near the border with Guinea. This part of the country is extremely wild jungle, and elephants even live here. I’m told the chances of seeing one are extremely close to zero, though that does not diminish the grin on my face when I see a sign announcing elephants in the area.
The main highways are extremely good – without even potholes, though every hundred or so kilometres I pass through a police checkpoint where the bribery game is repeated. The police here are very keen to get money out of me, though they are not very imaginative, usually asking for the same mundane things (insurance, fire extinguisher, safety triangle, wipers and functional wiper water jets) and getting disappointed when everything is in order. A couple of times they hold onto my stack of paperwork looking as if they won’t give it back until I give them money, so I just grab a cold drink and sit in the shade until they give in – always less than five minutes later...
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