21 April 2013

By the time Portuguese Guinea became independent, neighboring French Guinea had already seized the historical name "Guinea."

Undeterred, they proclaimed themselves Guinea too and added the name of the capital. Thus: "Guinea-Bissau."

For clarity, the other Guinea is sometimes unofficially called "Guinea-Conakry." But, to add to the fun, don't forget about the distant country that was once Spanish Guinea and is now named Equatorial Guinea. And Asia has Papua New Guinea.

We never got to the mainland of Guinea-Bissau, but spent two great days in the halcyon, verdant, unspoiled islands of the Bijagos Archipelago.

Most of the many dozens of islands are uninhabited but we first went to a remote inhabited island. We visited a traditional village that can be reached only by venturing into the mangroves during high tide and then walking inland about two kilometers. We received an extraordinarily enthusiastic welcome and witnessed traditional dances.

Women chatting and watching the crazy strangers in their village.

Another Bijagos Archipelago day was idyllic and lazy with a mild sun and gentle breeze on small uninhabited Meio island.  In addition to relaxing on the beach with fellow travelers, I got to snorkel, kayak, and swim.