Freetown, Baby!


The Longest Journey by jc2010sl
April 6, 2011, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

The delay to my flight had me stuck in Conakry for another day. Might as well have a little stroll while I’m here, I thought to myself. Rather like Freetown, the taxis here are often adorned with weird and wonderful logos. As I wandered back from my breakfast, I took out my camera and started taking the odd snap of those that passed.

After a couple of such shots a pair of police officers rushed over and demanded if I had a photography licence. “No,” I said, having read in the guide that this provision had been abolished some years ago. They asked for some ID and when I produced my Driver’s Licence, promptly snatched it from me. “Oh, dear” I thought, “just what I need when I have to head to the aiport in 45 minutes.” When I tried to apologise if I’d offended anybody and explain that I didn’t think this law still existed, one of the officers became incensed: “Would you do this where you lived?” Well, yes actually. “Aha, but that is Europe, in Africa, things are different!” I pointed out to him that, despite being a British citizen, I lived in Sierra Leone and that one was free to take photographs there as well. All of which seemed to wind him up further, and was anyway entirely beside the point.

When I asked them again to give me my licence back so I could be on my way, they asked me to go to the police station. On arrival they gestured me towards a cell at which point I ran into the guy who seemed to be head of the station. Fortunately for me, the officer in charge was a reasonable man, and after I explained what had happened he let me go. As I left I thanked him for his help. He shook his head gesturing towards his subordinates outside. “I’m not being helpful, it’s just the law.” Close shave I thought to myself as I drove to the airport.

The Freetown-Conakry route is not a particularly well-travelled one, and the plane was a mere 7-seater. Still, it’ll do the job I thought to myself. But just as we were about to descend into Freetown the pilot turned to us (easy to do in a plane no bigger than my living room) and said we’d be denied permission to land. So it was back to Conakry for the not so merry little band. It turns out they were “doing some work on the runway.” We sat around in Conakry for about 2 hours, being told periodically that everything was fine and that we would leave “in ten minutes.” After about 2 hours we were finally on our way.

However frustrating this was for me, it was nothing compared to the ordeal of one of my flying companions. He had been due to fly on Friday, and had been shifted first to Sunday, then Monday, and finally Tuesday!

Next time I go to Guinea I think I’ll walk, and I’ll leave my camera at home.

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