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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
The road to Millville turns out to be 70 miles of extremely rough dirt, mostly over rocks, or crushed rocks. After airing down I’m able to mostly move along in 2nd gear, though I still drop down to 1st for the biggest potholes and hill climbs. The entire day is uphill, and the Jeep works hard for the entire ten hours it eventually takes – yes, that’s right, I move along at about seven miles per hour for the entire day. The computer shows the worst mileage I have ever seen – 12MPG. Since arriving in Guinea I have seen thumping rain for between eight and ten hours every day, usually accompanied by a massive thunder and lightning show. I am extremely thankful the road is mostly rock which means there are huge puddles, but mud pits are the exception rather than the rule.
Arriving in Maliville everyone directs me to the “tourist office” in town. Bafou, a retired schoolteacher, is the self-appointed head of regional tourism, and it’s clear he is immensely proud of the whole region, and is busting to show me around. He keeps a detailed register of all visitors to the region, and it’s heartbreaking to see the steady increase over the years then the massive drop off due to Ebola in recent years. (The WHO declared Guinea Ebola free in June of 2016). It’s cool to read backwards through the book and see how many Overlanders have visited over the years, including groups of 20-30 vehicles touring West Africa in it’s heyday from around 2008-2012.
Hanging out with Bafou is great, and I hike to the top of the famous “Dame of Mali”, where I can see both nearby Senegal and Mali. I wander around town, and although I stubbornly camp in the Jeep on the first night, the relentless rain drives me into Bafou’s rustic cabin, where payment is voluntary. Bafou directs me to the town filtered water supply where I re-fill the Jeep for the fee of 2,000 Guinean Francs, about 20 cents. Supplies are limited in town, so I stock up on rice and pasta, but choose not to buy gas from dirty coke bottles on the side of the road.
It’s a beautiful place, and I find it hard to leave, though I am extremely excited to explore more of this fantastic and friendly country.