Into Guinea-Bissau

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A quick stop in Ziguinchor, the regional Cassamance capital, nets me a one month visa for Guinea-Bissau, and I immediately head South to the border, less than a hundred miles away. Leaving Senegal is simple and friendly, and I soon find myself on the Guinea-Bissau side, moving from office to office, getting my details entered in huge hand-written ledgers and collecting stamps for who-knows-what purpose. It’s amusing to watch a policeman write out all my details multiple times in an endless ledger of hundreds of pages while he constantly checks and changes the music on his huge touch-screen cell phone. If only there was a better way to record all this immigration stuff…..

Guinea-Bissau, country number five

Guinea-Bissau, country number five

The official language here is Portuguese, which is close enough to make my Spanish useful and confusing at the same time. As well as Portuguese and a local African language or two, it seems most people speak a little English, Spanish and French, so I manage to get my point across, more-or-less. The immigration guys say I could voluntarily pay a few thousand CFA to thank them for doing their job.

I choose not to.

The jungle is really thick here

The jungle is really thick here

A few miles down the road I stop at Customs and pay 2,500 CFA (about $4USD) for a two week temporary import permit for the Jeep. I’m told they can’t give me more time, though I can extend it easily in the capital of Bissau.

Soon I am waived down at a Police checkpoint, and a familiar game begins. After asking for all of my paperwork and carefully scrutinizing each one, the young officer is disappointed to discover everything is in order. After furrowing his brow in deep thought, he asks to see my fire extinguisher – said as “extintor” in Spanish/French/Portuguese it seems. I pretend not to understand and make him really work hard for it – all the while having vidid flashbacks of my one day crossing of Honduras. Eventually I understand and show the officer my fire extinguisher, which he is not happy to see – so without even looking closely he immediately says it has expired. The date is clearly visible, and after I point that out, he says it’s not charged enough.
The gauge shows it’s in the “green” region, and we go around for five minutes on this, me being very confident all the while. He also wants to see my safety triangle, which of course I produce, after pretending not to understand for five more minutes. He says I need two, and I say there are two in the box. Luckily, he doesn’t check :)

I’m not sure, though I really think I am supposed to just give him money at this point, even though what he says is complete nonsense. I find it hard to believe locals hand over money in this situation, though I have seen it happen time after time. It seems logic and reasoning are not really supposed to be used, because when they are the officers are found wanting.

I move back to the drivers door, where he excitedly asks to see the Jeep wipers work, thinking he really has me now. When they do, he is obviously certain he has me, and with a huge grin says I must squirt water from the jets onto the windshield. The memories from Honduras are coming on thick and strong, making it difficult to keep a straight face. Finally, his shoulders slumped, the officer walks away empty handed as the Jeep wipers clean the windshield with a fresh squirt of water from the jets.

I’m on the other side of the world, and the games are identical!

Camping the first night in Guinea-Bissau

Camping the first night in Guinea-Bissau

African country number five, here we go!

-Dan

All the details to drive your own Overland vehicle into Guinea-Bissau, including gas prices, border procedures, paperwork, insurance, camping and more can be found at http://wikioverland.org/Guinea-Bissau

8 Responses

  1. Jared says:

    You’ve really got this border crossing shakedown figured out. Good job. Many more to come and I hope you do as well.

  2. mike says:

    Dan! You’re awesome! Way to step up your game on everything!! (Your jeep, website and photography look fantastic!!) Can’t wait to follow along from my office chair! What’s the deal with Congo and the Sahara?!?! Are you and your Jeep not tough enough?? Do you have a tentative timetable when you’ll be in Botswana? I’m looking at heading that way for a horseback tour of the Okavango Delta in July! It’d be cool if we could meet up!

    Keep living, my man!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for the kind words!
      Both Congo’s are on the route, and I spent a good amount of time in the Sahara in Morocco and Mauritania a little while back.
      I have no idea when I’ll be in Botswana, that’s way too far in the future to plan!

      All the best!
      -Dan

  3. Thorsten says:

    I’m a JEEPer too and I’m following your blog since a couple of months now (since a friend of mine shared your Youtube videos with me). I’ve read about your Panamericana-Trip as well and always had my doubts, that my JEEP could survive the trip, but after reading your articles, I’ve started to plan the same trip, which is supposed to start in 2019.
    I’ve also read your book, which inspired me again to think about past, present and future.
    What you’ve wrote, wasn’t new to me, but even more opened my eyes.

    1.5 Months ago I’ve started my new blog and I wrote also something about you. I would highly appreciate, if you one day could write a guest article for me…that would be super great :)

    BTW: how is the JEEP doing? Did you already have had some bigger problems?

    I wish you all the best for “the rest” of this amazing trip and I’m curious, what adventures you still will be go through.

    Have a super great time!

    Thorsten

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Thorsten,
      Thanks for the comments, I’m really happy to hear you plan to set off on your own adventure!

      I would be really happy to write a guest article anytime – let me know what you are looking for.

      Jeep is running great so far, I’m about to do a bunch of gear reviews and write about maintenance, etc.

      Thanks again!
      -Dan

  4. Robert Perrin says:

    Please tell us why and how it is that you are traveling alone.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Robert,

      There are a few reasons I went alone – number one is I couldn’t find anyone crazy enough to come with me, and number two is everyone has car payments, house payments, etc. and simply can’t get the time off work to do whatever they want for 2 years.
      It’s not ideal to be alone, but it means I’m learning French much faster, and I’m forced to talk to locals more.

      -Dan

  1. November 16, 2016

    […] Read the rest of the story on The Road Chose Me […]

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