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Back for a 3rd time, Conakry. Guinea|Guinée. The last time?

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Tuesday, April 29 2008

3 years, 9 months, 7 days

Conakry, Guinea

About Travel Photography,
Colors of the World.

Manfred is creator of, travel photography, a travel blog and a photography blog (a journey from 2004 to 2013). 'I set out to see the colors of the world, always I try to capture the colors'.

Seeing, is understanding, so I report and photograph, but formost enjoy and live those different conceptions of life (all that TV [and the web] cannot give). I reject jealousy, animosity, bigotry. Be free!

Manfred in the desert of the Western Sahara

The mind, when pondering at night and always asked those questions. What am I doing in corporate wonderland of bank, university, office or church? Who is the other animal asleep deep inside, the thinker, punk, creative, or Indian, vagabond and healer, maybe artist, writer, photographer, traveler, globetrotter? Oh God, dare you to think. When I saw the lies, gambles and manipulations I follow the old dream and set out for the journey of life lived, the journey to see the colors of the world.

During years on the road I have taken the turns as they came along, and realized one thing: Only such a small part of the planet can be explored and such a vast land and sea mass will always remain unknown, to me; many swamps, jungles, deserts and oceans will never be traveled. But then I am father of twin boys, Daniel and David, my most important, and I show them some of the wonders and colors out there.

ThisFabTrek, Photography and Journey, the Stories from the Road and Life around the World, stopped in August 2013 after more than 9 years, Love and Peace.

Last vehicle.

G20, Chevy Gladiator.

Chevrolet Gladiator G20, The boys in Cordillera Blanca, Peru.
The boys and Chevy van, Peru.

The G20, the vehicle that came to me for the Americas adventures.

6 wheeled Land Rover.

Land Rover Defender 6x6
Link to Foley

The vehicle of the Africa adventures, a Foley 6-Wheeled Land Rover Defender.

Before, the MB307.

Manfred and MB307
Journey, Middle East.

The vehicle of the Middle-East and North-Cape Journeys. See all vehicles.

Daniel and David with nanny Aisha, the best we ever had, black African Woman carrying white twin babies, in Bamako, Mali.

Land Rover 60,239km

Trekking 365km

Ferry 1,514km

Boats 174km

Other cars 43,495km

Travel Blog

contains Festival/Fiesta/Art photography.

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo.

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it, to tell the tale." Living to Tell the Tale - Gabriel García Márquez.

"They never taught wandering in any school I attended. ... they never taught the art of writing a book, either. It's all so mysterious."
"Wandering is an art in itself. Wandering and writing don't mix"
"Writing demands commitment and if one thing your wanderer is allergic to is that very quality of commitment, for once one is committed he runs that very risk of failure ..." Wanderer - Sterling Hayden.

"Photography enables you to grasp a place first time round. ... Photography is a means of exploration, it's a vital part of travel, almost as essential as a car or a plane. " - Wim Wenders.

"The worst prejudice we acquire during our youth is the idea that life is serious. Children have the right instincts: they know that life is not serious, and treat it as a game..." , Egon Friedell.

"How far you gonna go. Before you lose your way back home" - Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World, Achtung Baby, U2.

"If you want to be a hero well just follow me." - Working Class Hero, John Lennon.

"When I think of all the things I have done, I know that it's only just begun." - I love you, Lou Reed.

"One does not escape the Sahara - the Sahara let's you go or not" - Touareg.

"Planet earth is blue and there`s nothing I can do" - This is Ground Control to Major Tom, David Bowie.

"Glory for the crazy people/in this stupid world" - Ahmed Fouad Negm. > journey > africa > guinea > 20080429-conakry

Flood of joy. And Chimpanzees.

Map of Guinea.

Download GPS (KML) track/waypoints.

Bissau and the confusion I leave behind it me on April 15th, - and the more I drive, the better I feel. When I finally cross into Guinea (Conakry) (wiki) a flush of joy refreshes my heart, hot blood rushes from toes to neck, the tension is gone, I feel relieved. Despite its beauty, something is wrong in Guinea Bissau. Police kill police, Jeune Afrique story in French..

There is still one hundred kilometers of the most miserable roads through the jungle of Maritim Guinea via Kaminafara and Kissoumaya to Boke ahead with fine dust entering the cabin from everywhere. But I am in Guinea and happy. It's been all Kashews in Guinea Bissau, just over the border a lot less here. Missing these tasty nuts when they're freshly roasted already.

And - as if I should have known shear luck strikes. I encounter a group of (must be) 20 or so chimpanzees in the open wild. I stop to take a picture of the Land Rover and palm trees, a little depression in the land and I can hear their threatening calls already. Also I realise the palm tops, half destroyed, leaves folded upside to serve as homes/shelter. But slowly I react, not willing to accept my luck. I observe a little while before going back to the Landy and take the camera with the long lens but then the chimpanzees have ended their shouting and one by one climb down from their palm tree tops where they squatted and go somewhere else. Also I was a little afraid approaching them. They are after all strong wild animals, may hurt/kill when they feel threatened.

Road near Guinea Bissau border, Land Rover, jungle, palm trees, bad road, Guinea maritime.
Depression in land.
Chimpanzee climbing down palm tree, crop of larger picture.
Chimpanzee, just a crop.
Burnt land, scrub, Guinea.
Scrub, burned land.
6x6 Land Rover Defender, road, burnt land, scrub, evening, Guinea, Guinee.
Still love my Land Rover.
African Bush, setting sun in twilight, Guinea.
Twilight in Guinea.

I enter Conakry at one in the morning, after a tire change at midnight, after one of my BFG Goodrich tires has blown up. This is home, even the police know me, wink me through.

And again there is a dance and percussion festival going on in Conakry. And this is what Guinea is so famous for world wide. Without knowing, timing has been again on my side.

But most people here have become poorer over the last couple of month, again poorer. Seems nothing ever goes their way. Basic food prices all have risen sharply, petrol just recently jumped from 4300 to 7000 Francs Guinéen (up to 1 Euro) the liter. As a result taxi fares went up some 40% as well. Some people now pay more in taxi fees than what they earn during the day/night. "What's the point coming to work?" one asks. Still it is quiet. But for how long? If people cannot feed their hungry ones at home what other choices are they left with then take (again) to the streets.

P.S. 29th of May 2008: And while I post this from Ivory Coast, one month after leaving Guinea, news break from Conakry, (Jeune Afrique in French) the military on strike, shooting heard, airport closed. Lansana Kouyate (wiki) the prime minister since the deadly Feb 2007 strikes, embodied hope for many, had already been dismissed on May 21st by ailing president Lansana Conte (president for 20 odd years wiki). May God protect Guinea.

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Impressions from the Percussion/Dance/Drumming Competition/Event.

Held in the Centre Culturelle Franco Guinéen, Conakry. And I play with my camera settings.

African Dance group in white costumes, Percussion and Drumming 
        Competition, in Conakry.
Dance, Percussion festival, Centre Culturelle Franco Guineen.
African prima ballerina arms high. Competition, in Conakry Guinee.
Woman Dancer jump. African dance festival, Guinee.
African Dance company white costumes. Guinea.
Guinean ballet and percussion, Conakry, Centre Culturelle.
African ballet white dress. Dance Franco Guineen.
Ballet danceuse africaine. festival Conakry.
African Ballet Dancer, colors washed, longer shutter speed.
Blured picture of Dancer, Percussion Competition, in Conakry
Guinean Dancer blue and white, ballet festival.
Tall African male dancer in orange light.

Five African Djembe drummers and one prima ballerina in foreground, Guinee Conakry.
2 African male acrobats in orange light, stage Centre Culturelle Franco Guineen.
Female African ballet dancer, white short dress, Guinea.
Female African danseuse etoile, rotating arms, Guinee.
Female African dance, red and white outfit, Percussion Conakry.
African girl dancing, festival Centre Culturelle Franco Guineen.
Dance, Percussion, African Drumming, festival, Competition, in Conakry, Centre Culturelle Franco Guineen, Guinea, Guinee.
African male acrobat, washed colours.
African male dance artist, disappears in stage setting.

For more on my earlier Guinea Percussion and Dancing and Drumming pages.

  • 20061223 Conakry - The Concours National de la Percussion, National Percussion Competition.
  • 20061220 Conakry - Doundounba, Ballet Sanké at the Concours National de la Percussion.

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Ballet Sanke 2008.

Conakry still dazzles, the drums, the dancers, friends. Ballet Sanke has moved to a new rehearsal ground, the group has grown in numbers, now comprises a total of 25 dancers and drummers, acrobats and comedians. Motivation is high, talk of discipline, directrice Macauley still shouts about. First day in new location, everyone gives money, a sacrifice, a prayer to Allah, some soup/meal is given to poor children. May the new hall bring them luck. Repetition hours have been extended, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This is hard work, some cannot afford a taxi to come and return home, walk instead, some don't eat before repetition, and don't eat much after 5 hours of work out, the spectacle they perform this Friday (25th of Apr) night brings some 7000 FG (1 Euro) for a drummer, 4000 FG (50 Euro cents) for a dancer. Hardly anything you can live on. But "we are together", goes their favorite quote. Won Tan Naara, in Sousou.

Monday morning they're all back for training. Hope keeps them coming, hope to be touring Europe and the US one day.

As for me, Friday night Conakry and Kassa, the island where the performance takes place see the first rain this year, after 3 extremely hot days. Rainy season has now officially started, I've got to get moving, south.

My Visas are ready. I have no idea what awaits me in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire. Certainly more rain, bad roads, no idea. "Don't expect much" said the clerk at the Liberian embassy wryly, "after 14 years of civil war". I am aware of that, but maybe this is the slot in time to go, before it gets a lot better or worse again.

Cloe Aminata Soumah, Danceuse Ballet Sanke group in Conakry, on their rehearsal ground.
Cloe Aminata Soumah
Yelika (Ilira) Camara, Prima Ballerina, Ballet Sanke rehearsal ground.
Yelika (Ilira) Camara
Lansana Camara and Sangban, drumming up large group of female dancers. Ballet Sanke Guinee.
Lansana Camara and Sangban
Group of 8 African dancers/singers on floor, rehearsal Coleah.
Dancers Singers
This is African Dance, Ballet Sanke group in Conakry Guinee.
This is African Dance.
Djembe drummers, Balafon in foreground.
Percussion unit.

A real African Dance Percussion Corporation, Ballet Sanke Guinee.
Dance Africaine.
Djembe players, six, one behind the other, rehearsing Guinea.
Djembe players.
African Dancers, Yelika and Silvert from Ballet Sanke in Conakry.
M'binti in foreground, Danceuse Africaine, Ballet Guinea.
Yelika prima ballerina African Dance Conakry, Guinea.
Bofe Camara, acrobat/dancer/drummer. Percussion in Africa.
Dancer Bofe Camara, Ballet Sanke group in Conakry, rehearsal ground in Coleah.
4 African dancers/singers, Yelika in foreground, Yarie, M'binti behind, Ballet Sanke Guinee.
Female African dancers, Mbinti, Yarie, Rama, Khadija in foreground, Ballet Sanke rehearsal Guinea.
Ballet Sanke, Mbinti, Khadija, Rama, Cloe, Yarie, for years the same set up, Conakry.
Khadija, Cloe-Aminata, hugging, African Ballet.
Khadija, Cloe.
Mohamed on Balafon. African Drumming.
African Dance group, Rama, Yelika in foreground, Guinee.
Silvert, and wooden rifle, African Dance, Percussion.
African Dancers/Singers, Bofe, Khadija, Cloe, Yelika, Silvert in front row, Ballet Sanke.
Yelika in front, acting to die in agony, Modern Dance, Conakry Guinee.
Yelika dead in front, contemporary African dance, Ballet Sanke Conakry.
Yelika in front on floor playing dead, all Ballet Sanke group behind, Contemporary Dance  and Percussion.
Yelika in front, the rest of the girls behind in a row, African Contemporary Dance Guinea.
African Modern Dance, dancers in one row, Ballet Sanke group in Conakry, rehearsal.
Cloe Aminata Soumah, sweaty after workout, African danseuse Ballet Sanke, Conakry.
Silvert Sila, chilled water out of plastic, Dancer, acrobat, Ballet Sanke.
Tamtam, dundun, sangban, African Percussion, Ballet Sanke.
Drummers Djembe, Doundoun, Sangban, Percussion Guinea.
Drummers, Djembe players, Percussion in Conakry, rehearsal.

For earlier Guinea Ballet Sanke pages.

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Conakry, Kaloum. Mission catholique, Catholique Mission, opposite marche Niger, and Corothie. Conakry, Guinea, Guinee.
Mission catholique.

My last time here!? At least for a long while. Guinea has been three times very good to me. I have always stayed in the Catholique Mission, small clean value-for-money rooms, bathroom inside. Internet and beers (Skol and Guilix) and Zusanne's great food downstairs. Over time I have come to know many people, befriended some. Michel, Simon, Pierre, Dario ... One year and a half ago I parked the Landy near that Raffia tree. Today (29th of April 2008) it is still there, twilight, late, sky is pink, 1000s of bats circle the skies.

Conakry, Kaloum. Petit bateux, shanty, Cloe Conakry, Guinea.
Cloe, Petit Bateux.

Also Conakry the friends Bofe, Lansine, Lansana, Cloe, Aisha, Fatoumata, and so many more from Ballet Sanke and other dance groups. We still hang out in the local bars of Coronthie with their bursting loud speakers. Music is Guinean and Ivorian. Also we hang around Cloe's place in petit bateux, she has a terrase with a view on to the sea at the edge of the shanty town.

Also there is the Austrian Rudi who works for the EU election team here. For now we have a plan to meet in Nigeria in July. But all always comes different than planned in Africa. We both know that. I will miss Guinea a lot. But my inner bell drives me away, forward, into the rain of West Africa.

Also I have to make decisions. What journey next with Hasna my wife and my boys Daniel and David (now 15 month old)? They have made it well via Dakar to Casablanca. Hasna is such a strong woman. The main problem is that the Landy has only 3 seats. We are four. And maybe we won't want to travel Africa for the rest of our days!? means go somewhere else!

I drive out of Conakry Wednesday 30th of April.

Conakry, island of Kassa, Bofe Camara danses on a stone, sea behind, Guinea, Guinee.
Bofe Camara.
Conakry, island of Kassa, me and Bofe Camara on a stone, sea behind, Guinea, Guinee.
Me and Bofe Camara.
Bofe Camara, Rasta Haircut, Guinea.
Bofe again.
Conakry, Yelli Mama Aista, Aisha Bangora, dressed as a griot.
Aisha, amazing voice.
Conakry, island of Kassa, Lansana Camara, African man with cap and goaty beard, laughing, white background, Guinea, Guinee.
Lansana Camara.
Lansana Camara, Guinea, Guinee.
Lansana Camara, Guinea, Guinee.
Conakry, island of Kassa, Lansana Camara and cigarette, African man with cap and beard smoking, Guinea, Guinee. > journey > africa > guinea > 20080429-conakry

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