Friday, December 29 8:00 a.m.
Without a guide like Ali my learning curve flattens considerably but even just hanging out I pick up on things. I keep my eyes open, watch, and take mental notes.
Last night my search for food went beyond L’Oriental “where all the tourists go” because it was closed. I walked the fifty meters to the traffic roundabout which represents Coyah’s version of “en ville.” There I found a small restaurant/bar called “Class Sur Canal Plus.” It surprised me with its comfortable tables and chairs, bar stools, and fairly complete menu. A tall young man in a bright red t shirt shook my hand for a full minute, smiling ear to ear the entire time. If there were tourists in Coyah I’m sure that this is where they would go.
I had a dinner of meat and potato ragout and while eating noticed a man come in and order a Fanta and a cold can of condensed milk. I’d seen stacks of these cans of milk in all the shops but had no idea what people did with them. This man poured off half the Fanta into a glass, then refilled the bottle from the can of cold milk. It would not have occurred to me in a thousand years to mix Fanta and milk but this man enjoyed not only its flavor but the texture, the mix of bubbles and milk. He and his friend watched it critically like they were examining a fine champagne.
I was not about to try the mixture myself but I wondered if this canned milk might not be a convenient and useful addition to my diet in Guinea. I ordered a can myself and Red T shirt got an ice cold can from the freezer, popped two holes in its edges with a large knife, and handed it to me. Being condensed it was a bit of a shock to my digestive system which gurgled and discussed it all night long but it certainly hit the spot. I picked up two more cans to take home thinking I could make coffee with it and drink off the remainder.
The BBC also continues as a tutor and in this way I’m learning not just about Guinea but Africa as a whole. Being physically here I find my mind is wide open to any news political, musical, or even athletic about any part of Africa and I’m slowly pigeon holing names and facts about a part of the world that I knew very little about.
In fact the place of the BBC’s World Service is a new idea to me, never having listened to it before. Now I wonder how I ever lived without it. And I see that it’s very important here, linking not only the people in Africa but all the Africans living overseas around the world.
Through the BBC entirely new concerns and ideas have entered my mind. I woke up this morning wondering who the next president of Ghana will be as vote counting continues today. I also had a passing thought for ex Ugandan president Obote living in the garage of his roofless and rain soaked home in Zambia. I wanted to see if Miriam Akebe’s new album “Homeland” was for sale here in Guinea. A half hour interview with her yesterday had me spellbound and I learned the “African Nightingale” had actually spent time in Guinea when Sekou Toure was in power. As I took my bucket bath and shaved I heard with misgivings that the Gambia is considering imposing Sharia, or Islamic law, a trendy thing to do in Muslim Africa right now. And I heard with surprise that no one knew yet what the reaction of the Guinean government was to the ECOWAS decision to send 1500 peace keeping troops here. I would have thought Guinea was included in the decision making process but apparently not.