Conakry is poor. People are living in harsh conditions, being victims of every possible infrastructure problem in the world. Humidity makes you wanna shower every 10 minutes. However water is scarce and sometimes not available. It is no wonder ebola burst vastly this passed spring of 2014. I have seen children drinking from the sewage canals next to the road, people sitting in the garbage asking for money, not one or two, lines of them. But you cannot teach people that it is important to wash their hands when they cannot have the means to wash their hands. Hygiene comes for free in other parts of the word, here – it is a luxury.
But I will try to show you some nice parts of the Guinean capital, though the general living conditions are strikingly atrocious.
Conakry is situated on the coast. Colorful wooden boats, similar to the Senegalese ones, are taken into the sea early morning for a catch. There are some beautiful beaches on Îles de Los, a group of islands not far from Conakry. You can catch a ferry or rend a local traditional boat to the islands from the Port de Boulbinet. The port is very crowded and quite messy. It is better to have somebody go with you there.
French is the official language. National languages are Fula, Malinké, Susu, Kissi, Kpelle, and Toma. It’s Africa! Overall there are more than 40 languages spoken in Guinea.The major religion is Islam. Some people may be offended when photographed, but some will be very happy to pose. If I’m taking photos of locals I always ask for some kind of a contact in order to share it with them. But no e-mail, sometimes even no address 😦 …
All over Conakry you will see giaaaaant equatorial trees. The botanical garden, which is right across the grand Mosque, looks like an entire forest. I wish every capital had a botanical garden like that!
The beaches are crowded in the evening. Some play football, some are listening to reggae music. I was watching this guy reciting some lyrics as the sun was setting down. He was quite talented. I think French hip’hop sounds good!!!
A local bar near the Port de Boulbinet…
Palm Camayenne is a luxury hotel on the beach. It is just another luxury hotel, but the drama about it lies in its neighborhoods. The difference is striking, almost violent, almost oppressive. It is such a clear example of how we are living in different worlds. The price for a meal in the hotel will be just enough for a family in the neighborhoods to live for a week.
Guinea is a an equatorial country with lush vegetation. Amazing kapok trees, growing as tall as 60 meters are imposingly charming. Next to the Grand Mosque there are some particularly impressive ones.
I met a group of lovely ladies who were working in an local association. They were taking care of cleaning the park next to the Grand Mosque. While talking to them I’ve noticed that they did not stop smiling. Ah, those African grandmas have warm smiles like the big sun!
The Grand Mosque was built in 1982 with funds from Fahd, the King of Saudi Arabia. It is the fourth largest mosque in Africa (the largest is in Casablanca, followed by the one in Cairo and the one in Constantine).
There is a line of souvenir shops in front of the Palm Camayenne Hotel. Shop assistants are very friendly. Ask them for taxis to the port or to the Soumba waterfalls.
Sunset over Îles de Los …. The hip ‘hop guy left ….