Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006

Teachers on Strike (November 4, 2006)

The contract teachers at both the middle school and the primary school have gone on strike this week. Who knows how long it will last. Today, none of the teachers showed up to the school so the students were told to go home. Out of the 17 person staff at my middle school, only the principal, his assistant and one teacher are considered full-time. The rest are contractual, even though some have been teaching at the school for several years.

The need for a salary increase is at the root of this strike. I was told that contract teachers make about 140,000 Guinean francs a month. At the current exchange rate, this is just a little above $20. It’s difficult to make a direct comparison between Guinean and US money because the entire economic scale has shifted so the indicator most often used is the price of a 50kg bag of rice. Rice is the primary staple in Guinea. Most Guineans do not consider a meal without rice. A 50 kg bag of rice may last a family of five a month if they have other things to eat with the rice. However, in Guinea families are large and teachers are often sole providers of a family.

A bag of rice is currently selling for 130,000 Guinean francs.