Since arriving on the ship, I've heard rumors of a magical place off the coast of Conakry where unicorns frolic and dreams come true. Roume Island may not have mystical creatures, but it was a definite respite from the constant work at the hospital and pretty close to paradise.
The above map shows the three islands that are about an hour off the coast of Guinea. You can see the Conakry shoreline, but it takes longer than it looks to cross the water to these three palm-tree isles. I didn't learn until I got back that Roume island isn't spelled Rome (it's pronounced like the city in Italy), hence the incorrect spelling in the first photo, but who needs spelling when you have sand and waves and African music surrounding you?
|Photo Courtesy of Petra G|
Our day began with 8 of us walking to the boat port of Conakry where you can find every type of boat and every type of cargo coming off the boats. I actually saw a guinea pig (in the traditional sense, not a pig from Guinea, though both would be applicable in Guinea) in a plastic cage, which was new for me here. We were met on the street by a man, Abul, who had business cards with information on one side and a smiling photo of himself on his boat on the other. Business cards are a definite plus, so once we negotiated the price some, Abul led us to his boat. After the tragedy in August, all passengers are required to wear life vests, so we all got brand new correctional-facilities-orange flotation devices and climbed in.
|Another Petra G creation|
It's the first time I've seen Conakry from the ocean, so it was fun trying to pick out landmarks and see which ship was the Africa Mercy. Along the way, we got beautiful vistas of palm tree and forest lined shores and cliffs.
|Photo by Petra G|
Once we arrived onshore (and after a near mishap with the ocean eating my flip-flop), we hiked through this:
|Photo by Petra|
and the world opened up to this:
It didn't take long to get settled, and soon Abul brought his friends over to sing and dance for us. The "Welcome to Africa" song is permanently ingrained in my temporal lobe (or is it parietal...or frontal....I know it's not occipital or the cerebellum...but that's all I got), but it is rather catchy, and the dancing was so fantastic. The proprietor of the hotel/patio area taught us some traditional african dance moves, and after much cajoling, we joined in. (He's the one on the right).
|"I whip my hair back and forth." Photo by Petra G|
After a few repetitions, he decided he needed to see how we were doing.
|Thanks to Petra for providing all the great photos for this post|
Not long after this he started showing us all the moves again, so I don't think he was too pleased with our performance. Oh well, maybe next time. After he gave up, I got some quality swim/wave surfing time with Hannah and Emily. I'd forgotten how great it is just to play in the waves and bob in the ocean. I got the prize for finding the most rocks on the floor, and by find, I mean trip, so my toes were a little banged up by the time I sprawled out on my towel for some quality sun time. It was so relaxing to just sit and hear the ocean waves break, surrounded by new friends. Soon it was time to head back to the ship, and the rest of the evening was spent watching "O Brother, where are thou?" which is considerably better the second time, and some deep sleep.
On a side note, the french word for sunburn is coup de soleil, which translates to a hit or slap by the sun. I'd just like to say that the Guinean sun smacked, sucker-punched, and flat out pummeled my SPF 30 sunscreen-ed self. For a day of relaxation and laughter, though, it was worth it.