Peter Gostelow Africa cycle update: Entering Guinea Bissau

Peter Gostelow Africa cycle update: Entering Guinea Bissau

Posted: Jun 15, 2010 03:00 pm EDT

After taking a few weeks to recover from his machete wounds the Brit cycled out of Dakar in Senegal. He crossed Gambia and entered Guinea Bissau a few days ago. Communication is quite a challenge as the locals speak a mixture between Portuguese and a local dialect.

Smells, tastes and sounds of Guinea Bissau

Peter described his first impression of the country as follows, Roadside vegetation almost entirely dominated by cashew trees and every village I pass through smells of the fruit fermenting. Guinea Bissaus main export? Surely.

Villages appear basic no electricity. Houses are different. Instead of a compound consisting of several separate buildings (as in Gambia and Senegal) it seems Guineans prefer to live under one big corrugated roof.

I stop in one village and witness the end of some singing/dancing performance young men holding machetes and lots of stomping to jangle the metal-wear tied around their boots. They then chant in rhythm and move in a circle (kankarans?).

Someone watching alongside me speaks some English. I ask him if there is a place to eat but only food on offer looks grim bowl containing hunks of dark meat and in another bowl, dry spaghetti.

Flies descend on both before a towel covers them up again. He invites me to eat with him, instead I pedal on and end up resting for few hours within a cashew plantation falling asleep but woken by large ants crawling on me.

Expensive accommodation

Most people in Guinea Bissau speak Creole, a mixture of old Portuguese and a local dialect. Peter said his Portuguese doesnt extend beyond greetings and he ends up talking to people in mixture of English/French.

Communication not very easy here. Restaurant prices very expensive, which combined with accommodation, make this capital the most expensive one Ive been to in Africa very ironic given how run-down it is. At least there is minimal hassle on street.

Peter Gostelow, who lives in Dorset (UK) when he is not on his bicycle, was born in 1979 and became an English teacher and long distance cycler. During 2005 to 2008 he cycled from Japan to the UK, a distance of 50,000 km. Currently he is cycling from London, through Africa, to Cape Town; a 20,000+ km distance which will take two year to finish. He started on 16 August 2009.


Insects/mosquitoes descend on light of his [Joachim is a Customs inspectors] torch. No electricity. Retreat to sweltering hot room early scorpion-like insects frantically running around near candle-light. Joachim says theyre not dangerous. Glad I have tent. Image of Guinea Bissaus flag and Peters bike (click to enlarge)
Image by Peter Gostelow courtesy Peter Gostelow, SOURCE
Most interesting site [in the capital Bissau] is Presidential Palace, which is a complete ruin roof having fallen in during civil war here. (click to enlarge)
Image by Peter Gostelow courtesy Peter Gostelow, SOURCE
[Because of the heat] ideally we should have been riding from 6am-11am, taking a 5-hour rest, then cycling for another 2-3 hours come about 4pm. Peter cycling in Senegal (click to enlarge)
courtesy Peter Gostelow, SOURCE