I finished fixing the new network cable to the wall in the guest house (added to the list after we got to Guinea-Bissau), installing a new network outlet in the administrative office for any visitors (added to the list just two days ago), and beginning to make sure that a spare piece of hardware exactly mirrors the setup of the one that is online right now. A pretty quiet day, capping off what we feel has been a very successful trip.
For the first time since beginning work in Bissau, Corey and I felt able to accept an offer to go to a late lunch (3 pm) with Sarah and Amy, two of the OneStory expats. We hopped into one of the many taxis (which are entirely and 100% made up of beat up Mercedes Benz painted blue with white tops) to get to the restaurant. Afterward we walked to a corner and began another not-to-be missed Bissau experience, riding a toca-toca (minivan outfitted with two benches running down the sides and able to normally carry12 people but sometimes crammed with 20). The taxi cost 800 cfa (local currency worth about $1.60). The toca-toca cost 600 cfa so the savings aren't the point. It's the fun cramming in with the locals and making frequent stops as the toca-toca tries to get more fares.
Estevao and Gloria picked Corey and me up quite late, after 7 pm. While Corey and I were still stuffed from the late lunch, there was no stopping Estevao from having dinner. All I had was a soda.
We ended up leaving Bissau at 8:30 pm so it was dark. The main road, 3 lanes in each direction, is swarming with people and therefore taxis and toca-tocas. And this major road is pitch black which surprises anyone who saw the road during the day. Every 20 yards or so is a lamppost with two lights each high and hanging over the road. While some felt the lights were probably installed because the governor's mansion and other government buildings are located at points along this road, they think the city spent all the money buying and installing the lights but now can't afford to turn them on.
Which makes people all the harder to see when you're driving at 45-55 mph.
Another interesting observation is that there is never any activity (car, person, etc) at the “international airport” when we drive by it at 9 am every day. What is more notable is that there was not one single light on inside or outside the airport as we drove by it tonight at 9 pm. Very interesting considering that we'll be checking in at this same airport tomorrow at around that time.
So, Corey and I chatted for about 20 minutes tonight about lessons learned. On my part, much of the background about Lendem that I had been basing my plans on turned out to be wrong or incomplete. In Bissau, I had been concerned about being able to get a key network component in and interfacing with the Bissau Internet provider and overcoming a language barrier if/when I met with them. I thank God for the ability to adjust in Lendem and for quick progress in Bissau.
I am also tremendously thankful that, despite my inability to pick up the local language, God provided many people in Guinea-Bissau that extended much grace to me, and some nationals and expat missionaries who allowed their schedules to be interrupted to act as interpreters for me. I would have accomplished so much less and not enjoyed my time nearly as much.