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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Day 2 in Conakry, Guinea

Africa Africa Africa. Corrupt police seeking bribes everywhere but they don't seem to push too hard. You can just say Bonjour, smile and then walk away, and they will wave good bye and let you go too...sometimes. Sometimes, you pass them 30 cents and they say thank you.

Walked around Conakry today. Not much to see in the capital of Guinea. The old President Palace was bombed out in the soldiers mutiny and failed coup of 1996. The ruins are still standing grand. The People's Palace, too, was bombed out that year and is being rebuilt by China. Oh yes, I saw Mainland Chinese running restaurants and walking on the streets. They are everywhere in Africa. The National Museum - its largest halls were also in ruins from the old civil war, but three basic halls still stand, with nice tribal masks and costume.

Some posters of President Conte here and there, including one which thank him on behalf of all Guinean people for the vistory of the Guinean Football Team - maybe I am too stupid to understand the logic of all these. President Conte has ruled the country since 1984, survived a few attempted coups, mutinies, mini civil wars and massive demonstrations in 2006. The country is among the poorest in the world though it has 30% of the world's bauxite - all shipped via Conakry Port where my hotel stands. And this is where I am typing this note via WIFI.

We also went to the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, which is a small Portuguese speaking country next door. Got the visa on the spot for Guinea Franc 250,000 which is about US$58. Bought an air ticket to fly on Thursday morning to Dakar in Senegal - about US$252. In Dakar, we will buy another ticket to fly to Praia in Republic of Cape Verde Islands the same night.

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