Chapter 3 : Land of The Ladies
I couldn’t close my eyes that night though it had been exhausting dealing with these guys. I couldn’t remember when, but I still passed out. Another loud knock on my door! I woke up. I screamed at the door. “C’est quiiiiii????” And a man replied “Bonjour Mr Ray.. C’est votre passeport!!” I heard the word passport, and straight away ran to the door. I opened it up.. and there.. a tall man with a suit standing in front of me and smiled.. He spoke English with an accent to me “Here is your passport Sir, there is a plane going to Conakry in about 2 hours time” I got all my things packed, and was really excited that I will leave Abidjan behind me. Going through the check point was very strange.. I expected some drama to happen but it didn’t… I didn’t have anymore trouble as I was leaving for Conakry. The flight to Conakry was rather short.. within less than 2 hours, I was already at Conakry Airport. Here we go! I expect that they will not let me in.. and they will ask for my Visa and I must be invited to the country in order to get in.. right?
Of course they didn’t let me in.. I had already rehearsed what I was going to say. I screamed at them “I want to see the Minister of Tourism of Republic of Guinea!!!!!!!” Then they asked me more question.. I continued to scream “I don’t wanna bloody talk to you asshole!!!!” “I just want to talk to THE MINISTER OF TOURISM!!! Do you understand? He invited me here!!!! Do you UNDERSTAND????” Wow!! Fiuhhh!!… most people were just looking at me.. Perhaps they were wondering who is this guy speaking English.. I purposedly didn’t want to speak any french word.. because I wanted to catch someone and take him to justice if he ever tried to cheat me again. I learnt rather quickly that this is not Malaysia.. I am in a land where perhaps who speaks better will survive better.. I knew what I was doing then.. and after waiting for about an hour, a military man came and called up my name. Raising his gun in the air.. he was ordering everyone there to give way for me.. Great!! Now I can walk through this messy airport with huge numbers of people. Nobody even dare to ask for my passport by this time. I followed this man to a white car.. he opened up the door and spoke to the driver to look after me and take me straight to the hotel. The driver introduced himself to me “My name is Camara. I am the driver for Business Focus” The moment I heard that word.. I felt relief. So, this man is in the company.. so, he should be trusted…
When I reached the hotel.. my room was already prepared.. I straight away went in there and had a long long sleep.. I didn’t care about anything else.. What I knew was.. tomorrow, I will meet someone from the ministry of tourism. I met my assistant Mr Sylla, who represented the government.. and I represented Business Focus. The company had been given the mandate to manage Grand Unity Hotel for the next 30 years, with 70% share while the government of Guinea still holds 30% share. Mr Sylla took me to the ministry. A man by the name Toure introduced himself to me. Since my french was rather little.. Mr Sylla was my interpreter then.. I was briefed that the hotel has 75 rooms, with only 5 rooms rentable.. another 70 damaged of some sort etc etc.. and the hotel still owes about USD 60,000 to the workers. Then I gave a long sigh to Mr Sylla..”How can we survive..?” He said to me..”That’s why we called you here to help us!” Help them..? Oh yes.. now I remember what my mission is all about. I need to help them.. The Malaysian Government has called up corporates to invest in The Republic of Guinea. Telekom Malaysia came in a few months before. The national paddy operator Bernas will also step their foot in. Business Focus was the second one to step in.
The next day, I made the initial plan of getting the rooms repaired bit by bit.. and for the time being.. the restaurant needed to be the saviour.. coz we need money.. we were lucky to be able to arrange the UNICEF to hold a Dinner Gala by the swimming pool for about 300 people or so.. and best of all.. I met another Mr Camara, who was the Radio Announcer of the republic.. He promised to do some promotions for our hotel via the radio.. He even told me.. “Welcome to the land of the Ladies!!” and I said why? He said “Guinea means ladies… hahaha..”
Guinea had a ‘coup d’etats’ – (sounds ku-day-tah..) not long before I arrived. But it didn’t get through. It was said that Malaysia did something to assist the situation.. and it was successful without any bloodshed. Since that moment.. the President of Guinea had invited Malaysian investments and also said that all Malaysians must be treated nicely in this country. For safety reason, he also imposed a curfew after midnight. One night, thinking that I was safe in our hotel area… as I was standing in front of the hotel around about 1 am.. sudenly a military jeep drove straight to the entrance and 2 military came out and just about to take me into the jeep. The guys around me explained to them that I was the General Manager there. The military refused to listen and started to grab me.. Then I yelled at them “Hey wait!!” I took out my passport and showed them “Je suis Malaisienne!!” To my surprise.. they said “Pardon Patron! Pardon Patron!” They went back into their jeep and drove off..
After that short ordeal.. I decided to spend a little time at the night club that we have within the hotel area. I was nicely attended by the manager named Mr Traore.. He was rather talkative and funny.. Hmmm.. I fished many information from this guy.. I asked him what happened to the former General Manager? He said, they had to send him back to his country.. the reason being.. he lost himself after 5 years managing the place.. he said “someone did voodoo to Mr Lipin!!.. he became crazy!!! that’s why he was sent back to Italy!!” At this point of time.. I was wondering to myself.. who am I? am I supposed to be better than Mr Lipin? or… will I become crazy like him? will someone do voodoo to me too? Then……. I knew it!! I was in a messy place.. No way to turn back!! I promised myself.. no matter what happens.. I will give my best shot to manage this place.. And I have to find out why… after 4 brilliant years of managing this hotel.. Mr Lipin collapsed in his 5th year… I wonder.. he also left 3 guns in his office.. which are scaringly under my care now.. but why? will anybody give me the right answer..?
To be continued… DjRay