Monday, March 5, 2012

The Journey home to Africa 2012 - Day 5 - Bissau Guinea Bissau

Mon 2/20/12
Day 5
We arrive in Guinea Bissau
We were able to sleep in and have a late breakfast in the hotel restaurant in Dakar because there was some confusion about whether the embassy would be open on "our" President's Day holiday. So we decided to forgo getting our visas at the Senegal Embassy (which required we leave our hotel at 7:00am to be there when it opened) and instead get visas when we arrived in Guinea Bissau.

We also cleared it with the hotel for each of us to leave one piece of luggage there since we would return on Thursday for another 2 day stay before returning to the US.

At the airport - No problem going through security. No shoes off, no iPad in a separate tray. Pretty much a breeze.

Once we got to the gate we found that the time and flight number had been changed. Instead of 12:20 we are departing at 2:10. There was no real announcement that the plane was boarding, so it's a good thing we went up to ask.

  I'm not sure I've ever seen one of these before but it's a turbo prop

The tiny plane had propellers.  Egads!!! and they served some sort of mystery tuna sandwich (which I didn't eat) along with a muffin. We were able to see the tiny villages that dotted the landscape from the plane's window as we flew over. The flight took only about 1 hour.
and then......we landed
We had finally arrived in Guinea Bissau!! 
We were sooo happy. We filled out the short customs form, had a meeting with the visa man, (we paid about $105 for the 90 day Visa) and we were free to go. I have to admit this was all much easier process than we had imagined.

We received a very warm welcome from our greeters, Rashida and some members of my new family along with Freddy and Maritza from Casa Emanuel.

We then made the short 10 minute ride to Casa Emanuel Orphanage where the little girls happily greeted us in the cute little dresses I had sent them some 8 long months ago. What a relief to finally see them in those dresses! I spent the next hour or so taking pictures of them smiling and posing for the camera.

The girls at Casa E are luckier than most of the little girls in Guinea Bissau. The orphanage has some outside funding and they are well taken care of (I would even say that they probably would not do this well living with their parents as the poverty level in Guinea Bissau is great). These girls (and boys) could use sponsorship though and even adoption, as they really don't have much of future in Guinea Bissau. If you would like more information on sponsorship or adoption please let me know and I will put you in touch with someone to answer your questions. 

The fashion photo slideshow follows at the end of this post.You won't want to miss it!

Later I had the pleasure of meeting my special painter, Du Pintor (who designed my blog heading). Du came over to meet us and brought 10 new pictures (which the 3 of us divided among us), I also gave Du the paints and canvas I brought for him. He is such a quiet, kind and humble man and I could tell that he was very pleased. Du is also responsible for doing all of the beautiful murals that adorn the buildings and walls at Casa E. His work really brightens up the place for the children. You will see some of his work in the background of the photos of the girls.

Later that evening we got an extra special treat. The children of Casa E sang for us and a group of local dancers performed. It was an excellent show. The dancers have also performed for Carnival in Brazil and the name of the group is "Netos de Bandim". Check out their website if you would like to see more or book them for a show.

After the dancers, our entire group went out for Mexican food. What a blast that was.

After dinner, it was back to Casa E for some much needed sleep. We have to be up & ready to go by 6:00am in the morning to start our long trip to Djati to celebrate the new school. (BTW - when we returned to Casa E the electricity was off (power goes off around 11:00pm so we had to get undressed and set up our mosquito net in the dark. Also it was really hot!!)

Welcome to Guinea Bissau!!
It has been an exciting first day!


Toni said...

I have tears in my eyes. You made it there and got to see the girls and meet everyone-- I am so proud of you! Say a dream and it comes true!

devon said...


You have been a tremendous help with this project. A trusted adviser and a great friend and wonderful support system. I thank you for all you do!