Conakry, the capital of Guinea, in West Africa, is on a very narrow peninsula projecting out into the Atlantic. I was there all this week. You can’t really drive from one part of the city to another without seeing a glimpse of water, and my commute from my hotel to the office was no exception. The driver weaved in and out of the hordes of uniformed kids walking to school, vendors selling soap, people burning trash, and then, boom, la mer. It nearly reaches the road in some protected areas when the tide is high.
I was struck, every day, by this boat yard, if you could call it that. “Une cimitière des bateaux,” I told my driver on my first morning in Conakry, and he laughed at me. (My French is not very good, so this is probably not correct.) On my last morning, I sucked up my embarrassment at seeming touristy and asked him to stop so I could snap an iPhone photo.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? So strange that a bunch of abandoned, shallow-draft boats can be so evocative. In truth, it should make me sad, and in a way, it does: Conakry’s fishers have long been under pressure by illegal international trawling in their waters. So it’s possible the boat graveyard represents (literal) broken livelihoods.
But me, privileged magpie–I take my picture and get on a plane to go home.