Excitement all round as we hit our last town in Guinea, Koundara before crossing into Guinea-Bissau; the Total petrol station has a small soft serve ice cream machine out the front, what a good way for us to get rid of our last guinea francs and enjoy a very rare treat. It isn't very thick and is melting as fast as we can eat it and it's hard to discern what flavour it really is, but lots of them get smashed down very, very quickly. It's the small things.
It's not only popular with us overlanders the locals are lining up as well to enjoy this tasty cold treat, it's actually how we found it by seeing an old man enjoying one and he pointed in the general direction, then we see a young girl and asked her where did she get it, unfortunately she could see how desperate we were for that treat in our eyes and in genuine fear of us taking the ice cream out of her hands she ran away before being able to tell us where to find it....but luckily other locals were more helpful.
Entering into Guinea-Bissau we notice immediately the increase in both donkeys and push bikes, donkeys pulling carts we haven't seen at all so far. It also sees the return of the cashew nut trees but unfortunately they aren't in season yet so no juicy fruit for us, but what they do add is giving Guiena-Bissau quite a fresh and pleasing smell driving through, a nice change from some of what we've experienced.
It seems quite populated with lots of villages one after the other so we struggle on our first day in the country to find a good spot to camp for the night so end up asking a local village about an hour from Gabu if we can camp on their soccer field, they are happy to help us out and invite us into the actual village to camp in some rooms that the Spanish had started building (we think maybe for volunteers) and use the latrines they had built as well, latrines that had quite obviously never been used - the trade off was for us to be completely swamped by everyone in the village who completely surrounded us and gave us no room until they finally saw that we were trying to head for bed. In the morning they were less overwhelming and happy to stand back a bit watching us set up breakfast and then get everything ready to leave, they gave us a really warm send off as we left. It was definitely an interesting but good way to start off our short time in Guinea-Bissau.
It's been hot the whole time I've been travelling generally over 36 and up to around 40, but Guinea-Bissau is treating us with some really hot days in the mid to high 40s, so an overnight camp at Saltinho Falls is very much welcome by all of us. The falls themselves aren't impressive but the river it flows into is quite cool and very very welcome after the bushcamp and to escape the heat, a whole afternoon is spent just relaxing in the river. The hotel we are able to camp at, Pousada Do Saltinho, isn't anything to rave about but they have made some attempts to 'resort it up' with comfortable loungers sprawled out overlooking the falls/river it's just a shame the same view includes the main highway. As a camping spot it is pretty nice with mist rising off the river in the early morning before a bright red sun slowly rises to start off another very hot day.
Our final main stop in Guinea-Bissau is the capital Bissau, a great place to spend a couple of days, it's a pretty relaxed quiet African capital city easy and interesting to just meander around. The old part of town is interesting to walk through with the Portuguese influence evident in the colourful architecture of the buildings, whilst the bustling port breathes a lot of life into the place with all the trucks and cargo vessels and the usual African foot traffic and market stall sellers. To top it all off Bissau has some really nice places to eat and we are spoilt with some really nice barracuda and king prawns as well as espresso and pastries.
Bissau brings our short time in the small country of Guinea-Bissau to an end as we leave it behind and head into the Cassamance region of Senegal.