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10 May 2019 / leggypeggy

Vine bridge, avocados and painted toes

Vine bridge, Guinea, West Africa

Richard crosses the bridge

Vine bridge, Guinea, West Africa

Stephan climbs to the bridge entrance. There’s a similar entrance on each end

West Africa is a land of amazing contrasts! Bridges are a good example. You may remember that we ‘fell’ through a log bridge a few weeks back. That was a first for our co-drivers, Jason and Adam, as well as for all the passengers. We’ve also crossed plenty of modern concrete bridges—no risk of falling through those. And on occasion, we’ve detoured through a stream (it is the dry season) rather than cross a bridge that is being constructed or repaired.

Vine bridge, Guinea, West Africa

One person crossing at a time

But we visited a very rustic bridge not far from Nzérékoré, in southeastern Guinea. It was made entirely of vines and bamboo. It was fascinating to see its construction up close, and to have the chance to cross on foot—one at a time.

The bridge is brilliantly sturdy and I’m sure it could carry more people at once, but we respected the villagers’ instructions. Our guide—the bridge is in a forest and was about a 45-minute walk from where we parked the truck—said the bridge is as old as anyone can remember. I’ve read accounts that say it was built more than 100 years ago.

In addition to providing safe passage across a river, the bridge has spiritual significance for the people. Two years back, it was closed for renovations and repairs. That year the overlanders weren’t even allowed to approach the bridge. I heard differing comments about why. Some say that repair work is done by spirits, while others say it is done by trusted elders who don’t want the secrets of construction shared. Keep in mind that my French is fairly sketchy, so the ‘real’ story could be something entirely different.

Word gets out when foreigners are around. By the time we got back to the truck there were several people selling avocados and other fruits. I bought 10 large avocados for about $3. They were nicer than any we’d seen in the markets. Too often the fruit we buy turns to mush within a day or two. These weren’t ripe yet and several cook groups managed to use them over the coming days.

I also got a fun pic of a woman’s toes. She’d painted them along the lines of the Guinean flag. Fashion in the forest!

Selling fruit, Guinea, West Africa

Avocados for sale

Vine bridge, Guinea, West Africa

Ellen is dwarfed by the sheer size of the bridge

 

52 Comments

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  1. derrickjknight / May 10 2019 7:37 pm

    I’d have a problem with that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beetleypete / May 10 2019 7:49 pm

    The vine bridge looks exciting, and definitely a ‘must-try’.
    It was good to see that toenail fashion deep in the forest too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 10 2019 7:50 pm

      I saw those toenails at the very last minute. Was so pleased she agreed to let me take a pic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ksbeth / May 10 2019 7:49 pm

    amazing on many levels

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Emma Cownie / May 10 2019 7:52 pm

    Those toenails were pretty amazing as was the very elderly bridge!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa Dorenfest / May 10 2019 8:46 pm

    My impression at your first photo was that there would be no way you’d see me walk across this bridge. But I gained confidence as I read onward about its longevity and got a close-up view of the ‘divine’ construction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2019 2:41 pm

      No need to be nervous about crossing this one. It’s well maintained and solidly built.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ralietravels / May 10 2019 8:46 pm

    I have enjoyed your posts so much. Alie was in Africa while in college and has always wanted me to go there. While working with a U.S. development program, I was often pressed to visit but during my short tenure, I always chose to see other places like Central America and Southeast Asia.
    Your posts are not the same as seeing it for one’s self, but it is a close as I will get now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2019 2:42 pm

      Hope you get to Africa one day. Well worth waiting for.

      Like

  7. Gail’s Snapshotsincursive / May 10 2019 10:18 pm

    What a brave soul. 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

  8. macalder02 / May 10 2019 11:02 pm

    I only see the suspension bridge in the photo, and I would have to think to cross it. Your enthusiasm for adventure has no limits, it is only allowed for people like you. With strength and a lot of courage to achieve what you propose. The photos tell how difficult it is to be in Africa.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sande Olocho / May 11 2019 3:55 am

    This is an unforgettable experience. Sharing it is way deep in a good way.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / May 11 2019 8:48 am

    Amazing toes and bridges. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gerard oosterman / May 11 2019 6:17 pm

    We will cross that bridge when we come to it. Great bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 12 2019 2:38 am

    The bridge looks like a basket – it must sway and rock with every step. The spiritual aspect of the bridge fascinates me – I’d love to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 12 2019 7:41 am

      The bridge is quite stable. Like you, I’d love to know more about the spiritual aspects, but language can be a barrier. While Guinea may be French speaking, people usually rely on a local language. In this place, I think the language is Pular.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 12 2019 8:27 am

        Africa has, I think, hundreds of local, tribal languages. Have you thought of recording any of them?

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 12 2019 1:11 pm

        Africa does have hundreds of languages, maybe thousands. While I’ve recorded a lot of music (videos to come), I haven’t recorded dialogue. Darn.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Alison and Don / May 12 2019 7:02 am

    That bridge is amazing. Every post you do brings back memories for me of the overland trip I did in Africa so long ago. Like buying the avocados when you see them. I remember we traded a couple of empty cans for a whole stem of bananas. I’d love to go again!
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sy S. / May 12 2019 11:59 pm

    I heard it through the “Grape Vine” that African Vine Engineered Bridges are second best to Spider Webs… who weave fantastically beautifully engineered bridges.

    Second, a great photo would have been some locals carrying a heavy load on their heads and walking across the rainy, wet Vine Bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 13 2019 7:00 am

      Sy, you are 100 per cent right about the engineering of African vine bridges. Wish I could have caught the picture you described.

      Like

  15. Phyllis / May 13 2019 4:12 am

    Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Curt Mekemson / May 13 2019 9:38 am

    On many afternoons after teaching, the neighborhood dogs and I would go out to explore the surrounding forest. Often this included hikes over vine built bridges. (The dogs would swim.)
    Butter pears… that’s what we called avocados. Sweet! Or, sweet-o as my students would say. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 13 2019 10:07 am

      Oh Curt, I love hearing your memories of Africa. I can imagine the dogs swimming across. I like the term butter pears. When we lived in Burma, the locals thought avocados were only good for pig food! We could buy 6 huge ones for $1.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / May 13 2019 10:14 am

        At the height of the season, Peggy, Oranges were ‘One cent, one cent,’ butter pears were a quarter, and large, juicy pineapples fifty cents. Of course you had to persuade the nest of ants to leave the pineapple before you ate it. The ants got out quickly when i submerged the pineapple in a bucket of water! 🙂

        Like

      • leggypeggy / May 13 2019 1:02 pm

        We’ve been able to buy cheap oranges, butter pears and pineapples, but nothing like ‘one cent, one cent’. Luckily we haven’t had to deal with ants in pineapples.

        Like

      • weggieboy / Jul 7 2019 6:10 pm

        LOL! Lucky pigs! I bet they were quite happy to get them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jul 7 2019 8:10 pm

        Very lucky pigs and very lucky us. We knew how to enjoy the avocados. We even had a cook who made avocado ice cream.

        Like

  17. pvcann / May 13 2019 10:51 pm

    I love that you respected the local decision, best way overall. What a delightful post Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. efge63 / May 16 2019 10:54 pm

    Wow what experience!!!!!!!!!!

    Extremely knowledgeable descriptions to accompany your splendid photograph!
    Sending back a big heap of hugs!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. ortensia / May 20 2019 12:32 am

    Wow, what a wonderful experience…..bridge aside😉

    Liked by 1 person

  20. jeanleesworld / Jun 17 2019 8:58 pm

    Oh I do love the magical look of this bridge! And that its making is kept secret makes it all the more fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

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