Next morning we found the Internet Café located beneath the UK Consulate .. in one of the smartest areas of the city, where most of the buildings were in a much better state of repair.
Alaghi left me to catch up on the 100 or so e-mails that were waiting in my Inbox .. FrG 5000
per hour on new machines with fast connections .. and went to organise the day's
excursion to the Marché de Niger.
With a little time to spare before Alaghi's return, I browsed the local street stalls .. which were selling every kind of article imaginable. I spotted some of the latest
state-of-the-art clock / calculator / international time zone notepads, of exactly the same type that I had bought all the way from the UK to give as presents to
friends .. and what's more .. this guy's first price was slightly cheaper than I had paid !!
Factfile 13: The 'first price' in African trading language, is the first price the seller comes up with after judging your relative worth. It is rarely the last price and considerable experience in polite
haggling is needed to achieve anything like the price the locals pay. But it is always fun trying. Despite the inevitable histrionics displayed when you are getting too near the actual selling price ..
never feel guilty about getting a bargain .. Africans rarely sell at a loss !!
Returning with another Hausa friend, who had volunteered to be our guide .. we taxied to the Marché de Niger. Unlike the Madina .. this is a scattered market consisting mainly of individual shops, rather
than stalls, with one large building housing woodcarvers and traders' booths in fairly dull lighting conditions. 1000s of carvings and silver items were on offer, all at inflated tourist prices.
Unless an expert .. it would be impossible to distinguish old from new, with the wood carvings .. mostly hiding under a few years of authentic dust !
Very few beads were on show .. those that were on offer were mainly new ones and of the "tourist fodder" variety at unrealistic prices. Friendly dealers, but business was very slow.
Another night in the Hotel Galion before a proposed early start on our journey into the fabled countryside to Mamou the following morning. As is usually the case .. last minute deals, people wanting
to see Alaghi to give him messages to pass on to family members we would meet along our route, reduced price offers from various traders on goods which we had expressed a slight interest in over the
previous days, etc. etc. .. held up our progress to the Mamou taxi-garage. A young lad offered his services to carry both our heavy bags on his head through the crowded streets and we arrived around
10.30am for a three hour wait whilst our taxi filled.
Whilst waiting, a young lady calmly walked up carrying a large sack of rice on her head .. lifted it off with ease and went back for two more. The 'British gentleman bit' forced me to enquire if she needed a
hand. Luckily no, as it would have been a struggle for me just to lift a bag to waist height !!
Alaghi hurried back to the Medina to get something he had forgotten .. so, said
young lady and I went for something to eat and drink, the taxi driver saying he would call us if necessary. Returning we found Alaghi in some panic in case I had
been abducted .. sadly not ! We chatted and laughed with Oumou and her family until the taxi was ready to leave.
My personal opinion of Conakry City: very busy, very overcrowded, with scruffy suburbs and too many
cars with badly fuming engines. However there are some better parts, especially near the coast, with evidently some quality accommodation and facilities on the Iles de Los .. a group of islands just a few
kilometres offshore, frequented by ex-pats especially at weekends.
Worth a short visit to explore, see the sights and meet the people .. who to us were charming.