On the Geba River: Bissau to Bubaque and Bolama

So I came to Bissau with the intention of taking the ferry to the island of Bubaque, which is part of the Arquipélagos dos Bijahós. From there, I’d maybe check out some other islands, if transportation was available. There are some salt-water dwelling hippos out there somewhere, which is obviously cool and worth seeing.

Happily on the boat at first

But, it was not meant to be.

Instead, the engine broke down after only an hour or so (which is really only 45 minutes away by smaller, more efficient pirogues), and we ended up sitting on the boat for the remainder of the day, while various people attempted at various times to revive our hopeless engine.

It’s always a good sign when the guys are working on the engine even before you’ve left the dock…

I certainly noticed all the clanging around the engine in the couple hours I was waiting for us to leave, and probably should have taken this into more serious consideration, but it seems so normal here that I didn’t think too much of it.

At least the mechanic had a large support network..

Lesson learned. After about 8 hours stalled just outside the port, our rescue-pirogue finally appeared, but instead of immediately embarking and returning to shore, a technician came on board and attempted to fix our poor engine. But to no avail.

Onto the rescue-pirogue, a sketchy endeavour, which afterwards reminded me of boarding a lifeboat from the Titanic…

By this time, I had been chatting with my neighbour, Louis, a middle-aged Romanian NGO worker, for approximately 12 hours, and we were getting to know each other quite well. He offered me one of the two empty rooms he has in the house he rents, which I gladly accepted. And it seems that he has been enjoying the company, as he’s almost suffocating in his desire to take care of me. He has been making my meals, taking me out, hasn’t let me pay for anything, and has offered to bring me with his team in 10 days to a private island, to hang out for the weekend while they conduct a seminar. This would be extremely expensive, if not downright impossible on my own. In the meantime, I’ve planned a little side trip to see the country before we go, and he’s also been setting me up with all his contacts along the way.

This old colonial house in Bissau is now an office for ECOWAS

So Portuguese!

Spent one night in Bula, which was small but nice



My first stop on my little tour before the private island was Bolama. The pirogue was meant to go this afternoon, but instead we waited on board for a couple of hours before determining that there was in fact too much wind to proceed.

Back at the port!

Actually, not only do you never know if your boat will go, you also have to play a game of “wait for the tide to come in” before you can even think about leaving

Maybe I’m just being superstitious, but it seems that not meant for boat travel in this country. Ironic, for a girl who grew up on an island.

As well, with this whole Ebola thing happening right now, I have been debating whether it’s even a good idea to stay in this country at all, since the disease originates next door. So I’m thinking I will likely forgo the islands, and the area in the southeast (really the only area left worth seeing).

Texts from my dad and Kyle are pushing solidly in the cautious direction, which means skipping Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, and instead heading back to Senegal, and crossing through Mali into Burkina Faso. From there I could rejoin the original track, and visit Ghana, Togo, Benin, and I’m thinking now, maybe Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon…. decisions, decisions.

But for tonight, I’m back at the very lovely (though, of course, slightly expensive) Pensao Creola. Though I have saved enough money last week to afford this night of luxury 😉


One thought on “On the Geba River: Bissau to Bubaque and Bolama

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s