Having started with some problems, things are going a little better now. It's still hot, but not as hot as in the inland areas.
So many things have already happened since I have started this venture that I don't know where to begin. Let me start with Gambia of which I have already told a little.
The country right now is calm and stable, even though it has been a long time since the last military coup. The same general who took over still continues to be in power.
Senegal is very similar to Gambia, except that they speak French. A stable and successful economy. Specially in Dakar which is also known as "Mini Paris". The people here are known for their discussions and arguments. I would prefer to call it, something that they have learnt from the French. The young boys are especially rude when they are together. After having ridden all day I was certainl not in any mood to argue and found a way to get out.
I must say that they are particularly concerned about cleanliness. And they are extremely conservative in their dressing. There are many beautiful colorful costumes. Both in Gambia and Senegal they are very beautiful, incredibly beautiful. One can be a little amazed of this beauty in the middle of all the surrounding misery.
People I stay with
The rainy season has started now, which for me is a good thing. Now it's raining, and Odin has an extreme eagerness for it to last at least half an hour. For some reason he is eager several times a day. While it rains, it's cooling down the ground and asphalt. It's 35 centigrade and 25 centigrade when the rain stops which makes it a pleasure to ride a bike. When it rains I seek shelter under a large tree or rooftop and eat my food or/and wash my bike.
Bissau, the old President's house is bombed.
There were no problems at the border control when getting to Bissau. They checked my luggage thoroughly because if they find any drugs, they can earn a years income very quickly.
The first thing that I noticed was that people were less well dressed than in Senegal and Gambia. They wear dirty clothes which have holes and are well worn. They didn't greet me along the way as they did in Senegal where, regardless of age or gender I was always greeted and smiled at.
This has to be one of the poorest countries in Africa having been marked by a lot wars.
Guinea Bissau has 1.4 million inhabitants and is about the size of Switzerland: 23 different ethnic groups, 45% are Muslims while the rest are Christian or pray to other gods. The country was originally a Portuguese colony and they had to fight a bloody war before they were freed. At the end of 1990 ended a civil war in which many buildings in the capital were bombed and you can still see some ruins.
All this has resulted in a lot of poverty. The average living age is about 35 years and 45% are under 14 years. 20% cannot read, which means it's useless to ask somebody for directions using the map. I thought there would be much criminality in the area after seeing so much poverty, but I feel quite confident and experience something that we do not feel so much in the Western World anymore. When riding through a poor small village I lost a few coins from my pocket, a 10 crowns to be exact, without noticing it when a small young boy ran after me some hundred metres to return my money. This is a lot of money for people down here. I couldn't but help be aware of all the warnings and I gave the him 5 crowns
The people are very friendly and I was often allowed to sleep in their garden. They even offered me their bed, but knowing this would mean them having to slep on the floor I graciously refused. Now I sleep on my air mattress with the goats, cows and chickens that sleep in straw houses or mud houses. A cock goes to work together with the dog watching the compound.
Always having fun after a days ride using my Spanish knowledge as they are chatting Portuguese.
Washing my clothes.
In any case, many down here are from Gambia and who know that Norway is a good country to live in. In fact the Guineans like to go to Norway. Many people asked me how to get there and what is there to do there.
I have mounted a cool box in front of the bicycle, but I need to find electricity points to charge it. The one that I have bought can carry 1 liter of ice cubes which can last almost 6 hours. You cannot imagine how good the cold water tastes in this heat. It is not always that there is electricity. I have saw a floodlit soccer game during which the electricity went 4 times. There was a lot of anger and outrage toward the electricity company I can tell you! But nothing happened and things calmed down. If that happened in Norway the Prime Minister would've had to resign!
Since I love history I would like to tell you a little more about Africa.
Africa is the cradle of Humanity and the continent is the world's oldest continent with some 97% of it's land being 300 million years old. From bacteria, dinosaurs, and 10 million years ago apes started to walk on two legs. 8 million years later the Neanderthal evolved himself into human beings for 200,000 years. So long we didn't rule the Earth.
The oldest and most famous human skeleton was found in Ethiopia and is 150,000 years old. She is called Eva and is called the mother of humanity . That's how we are all coming from the the same mother.
50,000 years later they started to emigrate north and towards the middle east and most every corner of the world. Impressing how they spread all over the world. They lived as nomads and lived by eating the dead animals that they found.
40,000 years later the first farmers started to seed plants where there was good soil and a little green. A few thousand years later came the first people to Scandinavia which was at that time largely covered by ice. Little sun and the cold made the peoples dark pigmentation vanish and then they became white people with blond hair and blue eyes. So it came that Vikings spread their genes all over Europe, even to the Middle east. Some years later the Viking biker came in the game. That my friends was my brief family history.
I have been invited for a friend of mine from Tjoemme in Liberia, where he is working as a project leader of the United Nations. I hardly can wait to get there and relax with a cold beer which he has promised me.
My translator Werner Steidl drove a truck around the entire west Africa 35 years ago, and he was married to "Miss Gambia" at that time. Now he has remarried with a "great" lady from Peru and enjoying his life and helping me with my interpretations..
The shape started with is getting a little better after the long vacation, but it goes really slow . But the overweight I still have I must break at least in half.