We arrived here one Friday night, after a five+ hour boat ride from the mainland (plus at least three hours of waiting to load and unload the boat). All this after an extremely hectic week spent coordinating construction of schools in a remote area in Bissora (mainland).
The best word that captures my experience is "sanctuary". Our plans were to stay at one of the more expensive places that a travel agent had recommended. On the boat, we met a lawyer who called ahead for us and reserved five rooms for us, as well as to prepare dinner for our group.
So when we arrived, walking with flashlights in the dark along what passes for the main street (quite impassable by normal vehicle), my expectations were rather low. We found our rooms quite nice, in a recently built expansion of the facility.
One thing that has to be made clear up front about traveling to Guinea-Bissau, is to understand the total lack of infrastructure. In our week in Bissau, we had running water twice, electricity (from the power grid) perhaps three times. As far as I could tell, sewage and waste water treatment does not exist anywhere.
On Bubaque, at the hotel, they had both power from the grid and their own generator. This is critical for sleeping, since minimally you will need a fan blowing all through the night. The second most important thing? Running water! Dora has a huge reservoir tank, much like one sees all around India. Curiously, this "technology" is not very widespread to the masses in G-B.
So I/we were very relieved to find nice fresh rooms, with running water (of course, only one temperature), electricity and an adequate fan. Again, the word sanctuary is what I would use to describe this place. But things got even better...
After cleaning up from the boat ride and getting ready for dinner, we found our lawyer friend waiting for us in the lounge area. Another big group of Italians (who we had met on the boat) were also there waiting for dinner.
Dinner was spectacular. Dora's team had prepared two good sized fish each, for every one of us. Grilling fish is a well-mastered Portuguese art form. The fish were fantastic. Fresh, hot and perfectly grilled+salted. But it gets even better....
Dora's specialty is a spicy sauce made from onions, green chilli peppers and ... limes. The blend of the flavours, especially the fresh limes, was irresistible. Interestingly, she grows most of the raw ingredients in her on garden on-site. Be sure to ask her to show you all the trees she's nurtured, thanks to her "green" thumb.
Another related aspect to her green thumb is, I think, her eye for landscaping. As my pictures try to show, the landscaping is quite lush, exotic and artfully placed. Nature often does a great job on it's own, but garden lovers definitely will enjoy a stroll around the place.
I would err if I did not mention Susana. She is Dora's niece (I think) and is the general administrator, waitress, concierge, etc. Without her her help, we would not have done and seen so much of the island.
One final comment. What struck me the most was the management. In G-B, things will not happen without someone's oversight. All of their employees had a genuine grasp of the concept of service. All of the staff that I interacted with were helpful and friendly, kitchen, cleaning and bar staff. Even the night-time security guard was helpful, always there ready to shine his flashlight to show the pathway.
In all my travels, the best is when one experiences the personal touch of locals. This is why I like visiting family if possible. It was such a pleasure to meet and be treated so friendly and well by both Dora and Susana.
As Schwarzenegger says, "I'll be back..." Someday hopefully.