Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Conakry !!

Well, here I am in Conakry, the capital of Guinea!!
After a looong flight with a few minor delays, we arrived in the Conakry airport. That was my first taste of Africa - the airport was a tiny one-room cement building with sickly yellow lighting and some African drawings at the top of a high ceiling. It was filled beyond capacity the entire time we were there (though I wonder if the concept of "maximum capacity" exists here...)
After a longish crowded line surrounded by Guinean army officials (they're all over the place here), surprisingly we made it through without any problems and were granted access to the other side where the baggage claim is. We had an intense welcome from the current Peace Corps volunteers, which was great in such a chaotic mess of people pushing and yelling in various languages...
The baggage claim was pure chaos -- everyone shouting and pushing, people running around probably trying to steal bags... but all of our baggage arrived and we walked out the long ramp to the PC van awaiting us around 8pm or so.
After waiting forever in traffic to get out of the airport, I got a brief but intense first glimpse of Africa in the dark...
The van ride to the Peace Corps house was down a few roads, some dirt, some kind of like highways, all lined with TONS of people... some walking, some idling, some standing around talking, some looking like they were negotiating... it was veerry dark because most places didn't have electricity. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. The road was lined with shacks, most looking like a bad rain storm could blow them over... some were apparently shops, others were residences, some I had no idea. Just people sitting in the dark doing nothing. Quite a strange/eerie sight if you've never been in a third world country!

Today was the next crazy African experience I've had so far. After a day of random "icebreaker" type activities, a current PCV took us to the local market to have a look around and check out the city during daylight. This I don't even think I can describe...
The roads were again lined with people in every possible space, either sitting around, washing clothes in a bucket, cooking something right next to the road on an open fire, doing some kind of metalwork, playing soccer, selling all kinds of things (fruit, vegetables, meat, toiletry items, etc) displayed haphazardly on tables...
The marché itself was a fucking trip. I followed the veteran volunteer inside what looked like just a sketchy storefront into a narrow (REALLY narrow) maze of storefronts selling all kinds of things... every kind of food, vegetable, fruit, textile, shoes (Obama flip-flops lol), wooden bowls & spoons, etc... everything covered in flies and filth. Everywhere you turned someone was right there, pushing through like it was nothing. The road itself was unbelievably uneven and rocky and with enormous crevasses that you could practically fall into. People would often just be sitting in their tables... kind of like the midway in the fair if they were within 4 feet of each other and a lot smaller and weirder. And with no lights.
The streets were filled with families hanging around doing stuff in front of what appeared to me like shacks that were barely standing... cooking, playing games, talking, washing things... all surrounded by unbelievable garbage everywhere. Children sang to us in their local language (translated by current PCVs) "White person!" It was pretty cute. Most people were very friendly and smiled when you smiled at them, despite the initial stare.
The whole market experience was crazy... it truly astounds me that people live their lives like this every day. It's like I landed on a different planet. I love it though; everything is new and exciting, albeit somewhat dirty. Someone described it in an interesting way: "The people here are living their everyday lives despite the government's influence rather than facilitated by the government..." i.e. they have come to expect the government to do them more harm than good. It's interesting. The other PCVs that will be helping us train were saying how strange and alien it seemed to them the first time, but that now it's completely normal... will be a while for me!

Hope everything is great back in the States, I love & miss everyone xxxx


  1. Bon courage Molly. Je te suis avec interêt même si je n'ai pas beaucoup le temps ces derniers temps pour t'écrire. Je le ferai très bientôt.
    Aaaaah j'oubliai le facteur m'a apporté un super cadeau. Génial !!! J'ai d'ailleur cru que ca venait de Guiné. Il y a quelque chose d'Africain non ? Les couleurs sans doute. Merci merci beaucoup... It was so nice from you.
    Je t'envoi plein de bisous


    I miss you, assface.

  3. OH my GOD!