Saturday, 27 October 2012

Ile Roume...

We had the opportunity to visit one of the islands in the archipelago off Conakry's coast last weekend. (20th October 2012.) We left the ship at 09h30 and walked across to the fishing village near Obama Bar. Here we donned life-jackets and clambered into a sturdy wooden canoe.

Candace and I were unintentionally seated apart from one another, but it turned out to be a blessing for her since the seat I was given had been recently painted. My nice new cargo pants, bought in the USA in July, now have a distinct blue tinge on the rear! Oops!

Soon enough we were speeding (or rather, chugging) along the waters, navigating rocks and numerous shipwrecks, towards the Ile Roume. We passed the decapitated Boulbinet Lighthouse, up until recently an important sentinel that guarded Conakry's waters from further shipwrecks. Hopefully now that it is out of commission more vessels don't come to grief in these treacherous shallows.

We rounded the Ile Kassa, with its tall palm trees and imposing cliffs reminiscent of a scene out of Jurassic Park, and continued into the bay formed by Conakry's archipelago.

After an hour we reached our destination, Ile Roume, and walked across the island to a lovely beach. Here we spent the day swimming, playing frisbee, reading and relaxing. We even played an international game of beach cricket, with a South African, American, Scotsman, and Australian all participating! We also had a lovely lunch of fresh calamari, fish, and chicken served with delicious potato chips and vegetables!

At 16h00 we walked back to where our boat was waiting, and headed back to Conakry, after a lovely, relaxing day out!

 Roume Island is marked with the A in this snapshot from Google. The AFM is top right.
 A sturdy fishing trawler.
 Approaching the island.
 Almost there!
 The beach was beautiful!
 Relaxing on the beach.
 Frisbee on the beach.
 Beach cricket with an international feel!
 Time to head home.
 Passing many shipwrecks on the way.
Another wreck.
 The AFM is visible across the bay.
The Palace of the Nations as we approach the fishing village.
 Candace and I in the boat.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Fishing vessels...

Some of the larger fishing vessels that come and go from Conakry's Port look as if they are maintained to a high level of excellence. An example is this 1986-built fishing trawler below.

Other fishing trawlers are quite rusted and are in need of a little tender loving care - such as the below boat. I have seen other fishing boats listing at quite extreme angles as they enter the Port. It's no wonder that the channel between Conakry's Peninsula and the Islands is littered with the decaying bodies of many shipwrecks!  

Friday, 19 October 2012

Fall Festival...

The Africa Mercy community had a Fall Festival event in the Town Square area of the ship last week. Not being an American, I can only surmise that this celebrates the onset of autumn in the northern hemisphere. There were many games for the young - and young-at-heart - including Bobbing for Apples, Bean Bag Toss, Bowling and others. There were also many stalls selling biscuits/cookies, gingerbread men, clothing, cards, jewellery, and more. Candace and I got involved in an epic Bobbing for Apples contest. It was loads of fun and provided much laughter too!

 Town Square area of the ship.
 It was full of people enjoying the stalls.
 Candace and I compete in Bobbing for Apples.
My lovely wife ended up beating me 3-0.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


I spotted this interesting sight in the port as I was walking back to the ship after a tough game of Ultimate Frisbee last week. (12th October 2012.) I got to my cabin, grabbed my camera, and dashed out again to take this photo. A flatbed trailer, with a truck on top, and another truck on top of that truck, and finally a car on the very top truck!

It's a multi-truck!

French Naval Vessel "Siroco"...

One of the French Navy's amphibious assault vessels docked in Conakry last Thursday. (11th October 2012.) The Siroco (L9012) conducted some joint exercises with Guinea's Navy, and also ran their landing craft in the waters off Conakry's harbour. The Siroco carries a small fleet of helicopters, and most interesting of all (in terms of Mercy Ships) has a 47-bed hospital and two operating theatres. This large ship also called in Benin when we were docked there in 2009.

The landing craft undergo exercises in Conakry's harbour.
This one is carrying a tractor/bulldozer.
The forward end of the Siroco is very impressive.
Close-up of the bow and superstructure.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cascade de la Soumba...

Candace and I went out past Dubreka for the third time last weekend. (6th October 2012) We went with some friends to find another large waterfall, Cascade de la Soumba, a little way past Youmaya Valley, where we were the previous weekend. We found the waterfall pretty easily, and as there had been some substantial rain over the past few days, the waterfall was quite impressive.

Unfortunately, the visit for me was slightly tainted by an attack of angry fire ants. I had unknowingly stood on their territory as we arrived at the Cascade de la Soumba, and they crawled up inside my long cargo pants! It was quite a funny sight for my wife and our friends, as I danced around in my boxers, slapping my thighs!

The restaurant overlooking the waterfalls didn't have any food, and so we decided to head back to Dubreka and grab some lunch off the side of the road. We had street meat on fresh bread, with some amazing sweet potato treats, and spicy African sauce. It was so good!

We still had a lot of time before we needed to get home, and so we headed back to Youmaya Valley. We went hiking amongst the fields of wild corn in the shadow of magnificent waterfalls crashing down from above. I half expected to see some elves of Rivendell appear out of the jungle, as the low clouds and the cascading waterfalls gave the area an enchanted, mythical atmosphere.

But soon enough it was time to leave our Middle-Earth and drive back to the ship. It was just another fantastic day in Guinea!

 The Cascade de la Soumba is quite impressive!
 The restaurant that overlooks the waterfall.
 Hiking in Youmaya Valley.
 Hiking back from the waterfall.
Candace next to some wild corn.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Hospital Open House Guinea 2012...

The Hospital Open House was held on the Africa Mercy last week. This is when the Hospital opens its doors so that all crew members, expecially non-medical crew, are able to see what it takes to be a nurse or a doctor. This event is usually held in the weeks prior to the Field Service officially starting, and so this year was especially interesting since the Hospital is already functioning - although access was limited to those wards which are not currently occupied. I was covering a shift in Reception at the time, and so was unable to visit the ward, but my wife Candace headed down with my camera and captured a few photos for me.

The sign says it all. :-)
 Try out your surgery skills!
 And now time for some relay races!
 Dress up like a doctor or nurse.
 Learn how to insert an I.V.
 Become a nurse for a shift and see what it's like! (The patients were crew members pretending - not real patients. :-) )

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Youmaya Valley...

We joined a crew activity that headed upcountry this past weekend. We were going to explore some more beautiful valleys and amazing waterfalls out past Dubreka - where we went a few weeks ago. We went to Youmaya Valley, which is lush and green with a peaceful river and many waterfalls cascading down from high mountains above, and hiked up to one of the waterfalls. Here we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the clear, cool mountain river. While we swam and relaxed on the rocky river, we were also captivated by hundreds of butterflies in the air above. They were everywhere! During our trip we also visited a local village and met some of the warm, friendly people. It was a lovely day!

 The mountains with the beautiful waterfalls.
 Candace in front of the amazing view.
 So much green!
 A local village.
 The villagers agreed to a photo!
 We started our hike from here.
 We had to wade across the peaceful river.
 This plant reminds me of a Protea from South Africa.
 Pretty little daisy.
 Another interesting flower.
 I like the contrast in this photo of this tiny flower.
 Apparently these carrot-like growths are edible.
 Fungi growing on a tree stump.
 Beautiful flowers.
 Getting closer to the waterfall.
 Having a break halfway up.
 Swimming in the cool river.
 A little frog hopping up a rock.
 Candace captured an amazing green butterfly in this photo - at right of shot.
 Two little butterflies hanging out on Candace's toes.
 This little fellow took a walk with me along the path.
 Looking back at the heart-shaped waterfall valley.
 Hiking through a field of wild corn.
 Local children wave farewell as we clamber into our Land Rover. What a fantastic day!