Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So ok, Guinea is still not the list of places I’d rather be, but it’s grown on me.

Africa is a great place; I want people to know that. Yes, you do hear awful tales of this scam, that scam or the other. But these are the things that grab headlines, the things that you need to be aware of but not let that spoil your experience of Africa.

I’v3etraveled on and off this continent since 2005 when I spent up to six months at a time in South Africa for two years. This included short jaunts into Kenya and Uganda subsequently followed by my annual whirlwind trips in WA – out of 17, I’ve been in 10 – Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo and further south to Angola. Yet to see are Mauritania, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, The Ivory Coast, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

The people are friendly, genuinely so, even if they are begging. They are warm hearted, quick to laugh, most always with a smile, traits to be admired all the more given the extreme poverty the majority of the live under, the harshness of their lives and the challenges they face on a day to day basis. Poverty, inadequate health care poor economy’s are all challenges that they face as they try to get through each day on a little more than a couple of dollars a day.

But they are friendly, warm, easy to strike a conversation up with, curious about who you are and where you come from.

Use your common sense, don’t be a smart ars, carry a smile and patience, this is se l’afrique after all. Be aware that most people will try to make a buck off you, its up to you how you negotiate conditions… at the worst you’ll end up paying 50 to a 100 more perhaps. So read up, ask people how much things are generally. Travel guides are great guides; worth the investment if you are gonna spend more than a few days in one country.

I love art and try to pick up a piece each time I travel. I like bargaining too. Rule of the thumb for me is counter with 30% of the initial price. You’ll work your way up, the seller will work his way down. Eventually you end up at a price that you are as happy with as he is, even if he still got the better of you. Smile, its only money and what you just paid probably will feed him and his family for a couple of days at least.

It’s easy to love this place. If you come with favorable economic conditions then you can truly appreciate the beauty of Africa. If you have to fight for each day, then your perspective will certainly be different, that I grant.

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