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Journal Entry:

Thursday, October 14, 1999 07:48:00

West Africa 1999: 1

Just a note to say goodbye - today is my last day in the office, and the very early Saturday morning I fly San José to Miami, to Paris, and end in Nouakchott (Mauritania). Flying and airport waiting time is a little under 30 hours each way. I met the fellow I'm travelling with, Tim Carlson, when we were on the Lost Islands of the Atlantic cruise on the Explorer for a month - I'll meet up with him at the airport in Paris.

We then drive to Dakar, Senegal and then fly to Ziguinchor, in South Senegal, which is only 15 miles from the Guinea Bissau border. We've had some problems with getting permission to enter Guinea Bissau as they have closed almost all their embassies in the world, and embassies from other countries have all been evacuated because of the wars there. No airline will fly into the country, so we thought if we get that close we might find a way to get across the border to the town of Sao Domingo to have a look.

From there we go to Banjul, The Gambia by road, and fly to Conakry, Guinea. Getting to Sierra Leone also proved a problem, as the airlines don't like to go there, but we have found a Russian Helicopter who will take us to Freetown. From there another helecopter will take us to connect with a flight to Monrovia, in Liberia, and on by air to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and Accra, Ghana.

We will then travel by road to Lome, Togo and on to Cotonou, Benin where we start flying again, first to Lagos, Nigeria, then to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and to Niamey in Niger. From Niger we fly to Bamako, in Mali, and take a river boat for several days on the Niger River to Timbuktu. We have been advised not to expect any comfort, as the river boat is basically a floating village complete with animals. We fly back to Mopti, and take a 3 day tour through the Dogon country and back to Bamako for the return trip to Costa Rica via Paris and Miami. It should certainly be an interesting trip! I'll send some postcards, which you may or may not received. Not much works in the part of Africa, including phones and electricity, so I imagine the mail service is a little weak as well.