Tuesday, January 23 3:13 p.m. Ditinn
I asked Michel, the owner of the spotless and well run Tangama Hotel, if there was a hotel in Ditinn. A pained look came over his face. He had to admit there was a hotel there but he didn’t want to. “It’s not clean,” he finally said.
And it’s true. It’s not clean. In fact it’s spectacularly dirty. And my room, being a special case, is dirtier than most. It’s actually a set of rooms with old family furniture and a few things hanging on the walls. There’s a poster of Lansana Conte’s government and even a small case with a few preserved butterflies and insects. The other rooms are small and rented out to Guineans on a long term basis. This “suite” is much larger and they keep it set aside for the occasional visitor like me. The rest of the time it’s empty and being empty the temptation to use it for storage is strong and piles of junk have accumulated and with them lots of bugs and spiders. The bed is certainly full of bed bugs or worse. But I like my new home with its rambling, falling apart feel. I particularly like the bathroom which is essentially a large closet with a gravel floor. I assume underneath the gravel is earth and the bucket bath water is supposed to just drain away naturally. The toilet is out back beside a large building with both the smell and the noise of a large number of chickens pouring out.
I was brought to this, Ditinn’s only hotel, by a pair of brothers on a motorbike (after consultation with the sous prefect of course). One of the brothers lives and works in Macenta and drove to Ditinn, his hometown, on that motorbike. He said that back in September Macenta had been attacked by bona fide rebels but ever since then the attacks have been carried out by armed bandits who carry off cows, goats, chickens, and whatever else they can lay their hands on. Near Guekedou, he said, the fighting really is being done by various rebel groups. But not in Macenta. There it’s just trouble with bandits. But rebels or bandits it amounts to the same thing and he told me I should stay away from Macenta (unless of course I was eager to donate my bicycle to a needy bandit).
Ditinn doesn’t have the village atmosphere I was hoping for but a few kilometres of the ride to get here followed a beautiful river valley with a set of two amba style mountains in the distance. Outside of that I rode through rolling countryside with little of interest except the road itself which was red dirt and stone and in far better condition than I expected. I’ve heard so much about the large volume of rain that falls in the rainy season I thought the roads would be in bad shape. But outside of the occasional rain scoured rut it was flat and smooth and ideal for a mountain bike.
I’m not unhappy with Ditinn, though. I didn’t come here to find a village atmosphere but because French explorer Rene Caille slept here on his way to Timbuctoo. I’d heard there was a plaque commemorating this and it seemed as good a reason as any to go somewhere.