This place would require all that, plus more. We began our usual preparations. Even in our rooms we had to shout to communicate with each other. Worse still, the room reeked of piss. One look out the window to the lovely sight of multiple people peeing on it explained why. I took three Benadryls, a never before used combination, but this night required some ultra-extreme measures. I was setting up, having taken my Benadryl, hoping to get drowsy enough to pass out worry free soon – but then came to the conclusion that sleep would be essentially impossible at this juncture. Disregarding everything else, the earsplitting music would prevent any sort of peaceful slumber, no matter how many Benadryls ingested. So me and Diego knew what we had to do, there was no other option really. If you can’t beat them, might as well join them. Besides, we would need to be really hammered to even dream of sleep, and we were at a bar. A bar that in fact served drinks cheaper than the restaurant we had just been to – we should’ve come home sooner.
Diego and I went out, in the midst of the brothel in full swing, ordered some drinks and sat down at a table. We were immediately approached by various women, ostensibly looking for light conversation and nothing else. Diego thought it would be funny to leave me there by myself for a few minutes, under the false pretense of going to the bathroom (on our window of course). I had to rebuff a lady who looked pregnant and about 40. This was obviously not the choosiest joint in the world of Bissauan brothels. Most women in fact looked quite a bit older, or busted, or both. But since this was Bissau’s sole budget option, in all its grandeur, I suppose the women were of similar mark. Diego returned, the rest of the crew came out to join us briefly. It was quite an interesting scene, though most women didn’t look like they would be getting paid tonight. The girl to guy ratio was quite skewed, but occasionally some would be lucky enough to bypass the bouncer to the back rooms. We temporarily tried to get people to pee elsewhere, to little avail. All in all we got a few offers, politely declined (there was no room in the budget to all of a sudden start throwing prostitutes in the mix, regardless of how budget they themselves might be), finished our beers, decided we had had enough of this and successfully bypassed the bouncer on the way to our chambers. I’m sure everyone left in the bar had a slightly different idea about what was going to happen in our rooms than we did, when first Bobby, Megan, and Jaime went back together, then Diego and I following ensemble a bit later on (we did hold hands as we left too, in retrospect that might’ve sent off the wrong signals).
The music went on until a little before dawn, around 5am. I know that because I was awake the entire time. 3 Benadryls and many drinks couldn’t even put me to sleep around such mayhem. We all got up, ready to leave as quickly as we could be. There wasn’t much to do in the morning but reminisce on how crazy the night before had been, and on how slow we had been to catch on. From the moment we arrived signs were abundant that this was an establishment of ill repute. All the little things didn’t add up in our heads though, until they came colliding together in one big and sudden dawning. The fact that none of us had weird rashes or condom wrappers on us the next morning was a positive sign (and yet, Megan would shortly thereafter develop a rash of sorts, but luckily we eliminated her before it infected the rest of the Shark Force community). At the very least, our protective sleeping measures had paid off, despite the lack of actual sleep.
In the city of Bobo in Burkina Faso there was a street we liked to go out on often when we would get together in the city, taking much needed breaks from our alternate village lives. There were a couple bars to sit at outside amidst food stands, with people constantly strolling up and down the strip. We liked to call it Hooker Street, since it was so obviously populated with those that one would expect on such a street. It was good people watching entertainment, comparing the various outfits and seeing who would be paying who. It was full of shady characters, not a place you would go on your own prolly (though that was known to occur), but in a large group of volunteers where the feeling of invincibility was ever present. Something crazy would always happen (fights, getting spit on, handicapped people dumping yogurt on various members of our clan, stealing the supplies of vendors who were perceived to have wronged us, ect.), and towards the end of our service we started thinking we should stop going there, but never did. People would constantly harass you, but it was all part of the experience. In the bars though, in the back, there were rooms. We never went back there, but that was presumably where all these hookers were doing the brunt of their work, and more than likely not in the most hygienic of conditions (if the latrines were any indication of the emphasis placed on cleanly appearances, then the rooms were prolly significantly beyond vile). Our last night in Bissau was like sleeping on Hooker Street in Bobo, in all its disgusting glory. A fun place to have a beer perhaps, but not ever somewhere where you would want to reside. Too bad during my altered state, a lady of the evening to dawn hours convinced me to sign a 10 year lease, specifically upgrading to the pee-window (something about the ‘view’). Just another example of learning my lesson there time and time again, and not even the Lonely Planet nor Benadryl could save me. Guinea-Bissau, prostitutes and all, always wins.