Onwards, ever onwards .. via Boké, Boffa and Dubreka .. passing through another roadside checkpoint .. where, for a change, the Africans were allowed through
without hindrance but my visa was questioned as to its authenticity. Long since starting our journey, a camaraderie had built up between fellow travellers and suddenly everyone else descended the taxi en masse ..
crowding into the usual little hut behind me, to volubly argue my point. Somewhat perturbed, the policeman ordered everyone away and turned his attention back to me .. only to be halted in his tirade by a more
experienced colleague, who had actually seen a visa before !!
The final insult to our progress was at the checkpoint at Kilometre 36, which marks the official entry into Conakry City.
Again I quote from The Rough Guide to West Africa which almost accurately describes it as a "tedious place" and "an outlandish scene of strutting and loafing khaki-clad officials where delays are
commonplace." The only difference in actuality being the colour of the uniforms of the worst transgressors .. black, from their hats, via sunglasses, down to their shiny boots. The crème de la crème of the above
correctly described militia. Papers were demanded and kept with little scrutiny .. three times the "normal" amounts of money were demanded for their return. Despite scrounging cigarettes from all and sundry,
their arrogance altered not a jot and we all had to pay.
My opinion ? Much too rude to print !!
Nearing the end of our long journey, some 24 hours after we had left Kolda .. the depressing
smoke-stained and grimy outskirts of Conakry City gradually enfolded us. Most large West African cities are not well-served by their outskirts .. Conakry least so in my experience to date. Once known as
the Paris of Africa,
its outskirts are now a mass of humanity and small businesses, existing amongst the choking exhaust fumes, dirt and squalor. Compounded by puddles of oily garbage on either side of noisy, traffic-choked roads. Not a pretty sight.
Animated conversations started between Alaghi and the rest of the passengers .. eventually being translated into numerous concerned warnings for me not to go out at night on my own, keep to main roads
and be very careful to whom I talked. Whatever had I got myself into ?!!