- Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:15 pm
I just wanted to share a bit about my experiences two years ago. I was in Guinea for Jan, Feb and March of 2007 when the strikes were going on. The banks were closed, gas stations were closed and taxis stopped running and the price of rice skyrocketted. People were suffering and daily life was not flowing normally. There was violence breaking out also in different sections of town. The Tomboulia police station looked like a bomb exploded it and store fronts were destroyed all over Conakry. People were throwing rocks at taxis that were refusing to comply with the strikes and who were using black market gas. While the violence did not by anymeans go to where it has gone recently, it did not make the trip go smoothly. We did get "stuck" in the compound and there were many days when we were advised not to play drums. We could also hear gunfire in our neighborhood of trente-six.
When the strike lifted the first time, and we thought everything was going to return to normal, my friend and I went on a trip to the village of Morowaya. While we were there the strike resumed and we ended up getting stuck in the village without a ride home or a way out because we took a taxi to the village. A curfiew was instated during the second strike and taxis were no longer running. There was no phone in the village and we had brought only enough food and water for the 8 days we thought we were going to be there but ended up having to stay 10 more days. We rationed water and sent someone from the village to walk to the next village which takes 4 hours, to find some food at the market for us. When they returned with very little, we basically ended up eating rice for three meals a day for over a week as well as some meat killed in the village, because rations were low everywhere. We didn't know how long we were going to have to stay there and didn't know how we were going to get back to Conakry. The next village was a 4 hour walk and the nearest town of Kissidugu was another 4 hours from the next village.
Eventually the strike lifted and one day out of nowhere a taxi came into the village. We got a ride to Kissidugu and then spent the next two days driving home, spending one night in the taxi when we had to wait in line for 8 hours for gas. We got stopped by probably 10 military checkpoints as well and had to bribe our way slowly back to Conakry.
I guess the point of my story is that although my friends and I stayed safe and did not run across some really pissed off people, we were not in the best and safest situation while we were over there. People were very worried about us because we could not communicate with anyone while we were in the village and even sometimes while we were in the city because of the strike. Sometimes it was dangerous to go to the airport, due to fighting, to try to change $$ on the black market because the banks were closed. Or think about what you might feel when you don't think that you can even make it to the airport to get your plane home.
I would advise like others are saying to go to Bamako instead of guinea right now. I had to pull out of a trip to Ivory Coast in 2005 for reasons of extreme violence that was happening there at the time. I had to fight to get my $$ for my plane ticket back, but better safe than sorry. Really.
Good luck with your decision.