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Guinea, West Africa, 1986

Memoirs of a 2 1/2 month work assignment on a diamond mine...

View Guinea on Bevl78's travel map.

OK, so here goes. First off let me make excuses! I did take notes on all my travels, but they're still home in the UK so this is all from memory, and this trip was in 1986! However, the photos were all taken by me and are not touched up in any way.

This was one of those "OK, twist my arm" type deals. I was working for a Temp agency in Aylesbury, Bucks and spent 4 weeks just inputing data for a company who ran a diamond mine in Guinea. About a month after I left, the agency called and told me that the tapes wouldn't transfer (no idea what the reason was), and the mine company wanted 4 of us to go out to Guinea and do it all again, all expenses paid - would I be interested? Needless to say I practically fell over, who wouldn't want an expenses paid trip to Africa?

We flew 1st class (1st & only time I ever have!) to Conakry, the capital, on a French airline (I forget which) and were checked in to the International Hotel for the night. I remember vividly the VERY bony fish soup, and that Budweiser was US$4 for a small can (remember this was 1986!). Next day the company plane whisked us off to "darkest Africa" - at least that's how I somehow pictured it....

The accomodation was fine, with two of us sharing a double-wide trailer perched on the side of a hill. No a/c but we did have fans - and we needed them! The view from the back door was great, but we kept it locked to prevent any chance of us trying to exit that way after a few beers!

Most of our time was spent working, there was a lot to do and we worked long days, getting off early Friday and working half day Sat if I remember correctly. The guys at the mine were great. Very friendly, very helpful. They arranged trips and even let us borrow their dirt bikes for a bit of exploring - thanks guys, that was REALLY appreciated! Photos of some of these trips follow. What they don't show is the hassle we had getting the bikes over the rivers - it was the rainy season! One was crossed by dugout canoe - one bike plus rider at a time while the "ferryman" punted across using the current to land him exactly where he wanted. Another was crossed by picking the bikes up and carrying them on our shoulders - that took a while! We also made the mistake of not asking the locals where the crossing was (only once though!) and the lead bike promptly disappeared into the river! We dragged it and the rider out but it was water logged so we continued 2-up on one of the bikes. On our way back a 2nd bike refused to start so we broke off a branch from a tree and had one guy on the "dead" bike holding one end of the branch and the pillion rider on the other bike holding the other end and towed it back! When you're in the middle of nowhere you can't call a recovery service! The first bike which had got waterlogged was picked up later by truck!

The following are photos from our trips to Kissidougou, the nearest town (if I remember correctly, about a 1 1/2 to 2 hr drive, all on dirt roads, but I stand to be corrected....), Fenaria (an old Russian mine site) and some unknown villages on the way....

Other weekends were spent down by the lake. We learned to water-ski and had the most picturesque barbecue imaginable! Visits were also made to the "City" where the local mine workers lived.....

All too soon it was time to leave. Although I was asked to stay I had to attend my brother's wedding, and I had a trip booked to Israel.....

All-in-all a great couple of months, made some new friends and had an experience I will never forget. The locals were very friendly. Most only spoke the local language and a French patois, but some spoke English and we shared our thoughts on many subjects. If any one reading this recognizes themselves, or were there at the same time, I'd love to hear from you.

Posted by Bevl78 09:27 Archived in Guinea

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The company plane you mention may just have been flown by my dad Denys Havercroft!! I was there in 1985 if it's the Aredor mine you are talking of

by fionaH

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