It’s my third trip to Africa!
After Liberia and Democratic Republic Congo, this time I find myself in Guinea.
Here are, for your enjoyment, some random interesting things about Africa I have collected in post-it notes in my agenda during my trips. Because not all is elephants and lions (actually I have not seen any yet).
- Business centres here are little kiosks where you can but credit for your phone or make photocopies. After working for 5 years in Regus, a business centre company as we understand them in Europe, this was very awkward at the beginning.
- You can buy popcorn in kiosks in the street – not just in cinemas! They make them in old machines and you can get a pack for very little money.
- Women carry all sorts of stuff on the top of their heads – and in amounts you’d never imagine. I’ve been practising with books at home but I can’t seem to get over 2 books before it all starts falling. I guess I am too unbalanced.
- On top of popcorn, you can also but things like a chicken, a lobster or a goat skin in the street kiosks. Oh, and peanuts! Did you know that peanuts grow under the soil, like potatoes?
- Another thing that’s extremely easy to find are betting places. You can place a bet of a soccer match, a horse race or anything you want basically anywhere. It always strikes me how the poorest people is the most prone to bet.
- Car parts! Is your seat broken? Your engine? Get a new one around the corner.
- Speaking of cars, locals get on them by tens. And their cars are super old. And they write things like ‘Messi forever’, ‘Hala Madrid’ or ‘Gob bless you’ on them. It’s a contrast with the fancy official cars or the cool Jeeps the NGO people like my self use.
- Some cars act like cabs. The difference is that they are not for just one passenger! It’s more similar to our bus system – thy are going somewhere and you can stop them and join if you are going on the same direction.
How do you and them know? Because of signs you can do with your hands! They may mean you are going somewhere on the same street, to a specific part of town or very far – some are the same for different countries; while for some others you’ll need to learn the local version.
- Official buildings are not fancy, not necessarily clean, and some are made in China. How do I know? Because you can find Chinese character labels under broken floors or sticked in lamps, and some have commemorative plaques thanking their sponsors.
- ‘No pee-pee here’ signs mean exactly what you think they mean. 84% of urban but only 45% of rural residents have access to some kind of toilet, so open defecation and pee-pee is a common activity.
- Need to charge your phone while in the middle of the road? No worries. You’ll probably find a lady with an umbrella and a tiny generator offering you to charge your phone for a bit in the next village. Some of this generators are powered by sun light, some others are linked to a bike dynamo. Clever.
- While on the road you’ll also see huge old trucks loaded with goods and… people on top. Lots of people. Not the safest way to travel when the roads are as bad as in the African countries I’ve been to. I am talking 10-12 hour drives to cover 380km, a bit over 200 miles.
- Last, fun time! Africans are great dancers and a pleasure to watch. So much that they even like to watch themselves! I have not been to many clubs but where I’ve been they had mirrors in the walls, and people danced looking at themselves. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to check if this is also a think in Guinea very soon :).
I’ll keep an eye for more fun stuff in the next two weeks (which include a short trip to Sierra Leone, the neighbouring country, where some of my colleagues are deployed). Hopefully I’ll be able to come back with more fun facts and better pictures for you.
Until then, hope you enjoyed!