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Published: August 26th 2012
I first stepped on Guinea soil last Thursday morning. I walked down the gangway with a bag of trash from the dining room. It was raining lightly. Though I loved the sail here, it was great to arrive after many delays and six days at sea. I like taking out the trash so I can go out. I tie the large black bags up when they are half full so I can carry them out myself. It has rained every morning since arriving, sometimes a drizzle and sometimes a down pour. The afternoons have been bearably warm and humid.
Yesterday, we welcomed the day workers aboard for an orientation to the ship. The advance team did some training before we arrived. 85%!o(MISSING)f them are from Guinea which is required as part of our agreement with the government. Some of the others were hired from Togo and met us here. Day Workers live off ship and usually work Monday through Friday. They are invaluable. They work in every department and many will also be translators in addition to their jobs. French is the official language, but others are spoken as well.
Tonight 35 more crew members will be arriving. We sailed with 300 (a larger number then usual)
and there should be about five to six hundred of us in total by screening day on September 3rd
advanced team has been here for 4 months preparing. All the off-ship sites are within a 30 minute walk from port which in many cases will be faster than driving. The ship is docked in berth 4. We have very little dock space. Half the ship is sticking out at the end of the dock. It will be a tight fit for the tents (admissions, eye, rehab.)
I have taken one long walk (about 90 min.) around the area. The city of Conakry is on a peninsula and it is about a 30 min walk to the bottle neck which connects the city to the rest of Guinea. The traffic situation is handled in a unique way. In the morning many streets (if you can call them that) permit traffic to go one-way into the city. At some point during the day, the traffic goes in the other direction, but this change is gradual and the only indication of change is watching for the direction of the vehicles. There are no signs.
Most of the streets are in poor condition with huge potholes or ponds filled with brown water. On the side streets people put chairs or other objects in the biggest holes, and sometimes manhole covers are missing which is something else to watch for. Pedestrians walk on the side of the road. I saw one taxis with its front end stuck in one of these holes. The only way to tell if the water filled road is passible is to watch the car in front of you.
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