The holidays aren't quite over, but I'm back in Labé with many a tale to tell. Tomorrow is New Years Eve, which people will be celebrating here, unlike the previous holiday, one week ago.

Most of The Fouta volunteers that gathered in the Labé house for vacation arrived on Christmas eve, and the following hours were filled with ingredient hunting in the Labé market, cooking, and of course, savoring our crafty holiday meals made as best we could with guinean substitutions. We used the house stove and oven so much (for cooking...and for some volunteers for heating bathing water...ahem..) the gas ran out just before the pies could finish baking, so we saved the dessert for day-after-Christmas breakfast.

Before our big Christmas dinner, I was invited to the home of one of my fellow teachers from Lafou who had also come to Labé for the winter break, for rice, and tea, of course. Another teacher from my school was spending the vacation with them as well, so it almost felt like being back at site, doing our regular tea routine! After a second rice serving, we went out to watch a neighborhood soccer game where the single guys played against the married guys. The match finished with domination by the single guys, and I made it back to the volunteer house in time to talk to the family quickly before sitting down to dinner. We decorated as best as possible, and listened to the few Christmas songs on our ipods over and over.

The real adventure started on Tuesday, when seven of us headed out in a bush taxi for Sebory, the pine-filled site of one of our response volunteers in Dalaba. We arrived in time to hike up Mt. Sebory with some "future guides." The guides, we found out later, hadn't ever been up the mountain either, so after we lost the trail to the top, one of them took out a large knife to hack at the neck-high brush that we were pushing through to get to the top. We survived the ascent, but taking a different route on the way down, we had to skid down the less brushy gravel, more skiing than hiking. The trip was so ridiculous, we found ourselves in tears laughing, which didn't help as we tried to maneuver our way down the mountain.

We hung out in Sebory that night, sleeping on the floor in the volunteer's hut, trying our best to stay warm with our limited cold weather gear. The next day we left Sebory early in another bush taxi with two of the "guides" from the day before. Listening to music from their phones, we were entertained on the ride with some of the top hits in Guinea, including Rhianna's "Man Down", "Got to Love ya," Justin Bieber, and few local hits as well. The Guinean band, Instinct Killers sings is one of our favorites; check it out:

Our first stop was a quick hike near Massi to see and scramble around the gorgeous rock formations. We then headed to a small waterfall for a swim (braving the freezing water) and by two we were back on the road, headed for Kambadaga, our planned campsite for the night. We vetoed the option to stay overnight in huts at the start of the village, then hiked a few miles down to the breathtaking view of the falls.

We continued the hike down to the top of the falls, where we swam in the rapids, explored, and declared the rocks to be a perfect campsite for the night. Little did we know...

As the sun went down, we got a fire started, tried to chase away a lurking cow, and had a hearty meal of sardines and bread. The fire kept us warm for a while on the rock, but as it got later and later, the cold of the Fouta really started to set in, and we huddled, all wearing almost every article of clothing we had brought with us on the trip.

The girls took over the one tent we brought (no fly, so we could see the stars as we shivered), and we slept nearly on top of each other trying to negotiate the best position between the painful rocks we slept on and the few blankets we shared. We woke up at various intervals over the night, each time checking our watches to see how many more hours we had to freeze. Finally, as the sun was about to come up, we rolled out of bed and warmed up by a new fire. Baby, was it cold outside.

We hurried the hike back the next morning, only getting lost once, and when we reached the main road, we split into two groups, one heading back to Labé, the other staying near Dalaba. I was in the Labé group, and we arrived back at the Peace Corps house early afternoon. This morning, we planned one more quick day trip, and went out to the falls at Kinkon, where the Chinese had built a dam and hydroelectric plant, also where the Labé power originates. The falls were indeed cool, and we got to waltz inside the plant, check out the facilities and main control rooms.

I'll be rolling out of Labé on New Years Day, most likely, though as I've learned, nothing is certain here in Guinea. The adventure continues....

Check out my photos here: