We arrived back at the railhead of N’Gaoundéré at about oh, God knows?, and promptly checked into a nearby hovel for about three hours of overpriced shuteye. Then at 6am, we were at the bus station, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to roll for another day’s slog along Africa’s less-than-forgiving roads. The guys in the bus station said that it would take 6 hours to get to Garoua-Boulaï, the border with the Central African Republic. The Lonely Planet Guidebook said that it would take 12 hours…it took 18.
To be fair, the LP Guidebook did say to think twice about taking the road in the rainy season – and my giddy aunt, they were spot on. But there really wasn’t much of a choice other than to go back on the train that night to Bélabo and head north from there – it wouldn’t have saved us any time.
The road wasn’t as bad as the one coming in the previous Saturday, which was a good thing because this one ran for over 400km. But it was unsealed and sections of it were outrageously unreasonable and resulted in everybody ‘OUT and walking’, whilst the battered 34-year old bus blundered its way through the red porridge that passed for the road.
At one stage, we went totally off-road after a tip-off that the carriageway was blocked. Through the jungle in a bus. Hilarious. We got stuck so many times, it was funny. Good job there was a ton of people crammed into the bus to help push it out.
But ah, we didn’t get too wet or too muddy, so all’s well that ends well, eh Gromit? I even got to impress the locals of a small town with a couple of card tricks along the way. Sweet!
The day dragged on with nought to report except perhaps the raw beauty of Cameroon, something that we didn’t get to breathe in on the overnight train or while mooching over the border into CHAD! But by god, the flora is ultra-GREEN and the soil is mega-RED and the sky is double-plus-plus-BLUE. Coming over those hills, it was truly breath-taking. If only I didn’t have to worry about the bus tipping over.
We hit the border town at around 1am, found the Catholic Mission to kip in (the only place in town where you don’t get hassled by sex workers) downed a couple of Cameroon’s HUGE beers and crashed out for the night.
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Well done. Congrats on Chad. That’s impressive. No one goes thre. And I still like the fact that I learn stuff when I read this blog, like about the origins of country names, and the scandalous stuff about Gandhi.
I have to disgaree with your hissy fit about the Cotonou taxi driver who didn’t know where your small non-chain hotel was. In third world countries, it’s the passenger’s job to know where he’s going. The driver did his best. You could have planned ahead and researched that the hotel was around the corner from the bus station. Don’t blame the driver, he’s not a tour guide, he’s just a dude with a car and a gallon of gas who probably gets very few Western tourists and couldn’t even find that garish red candy-striped church unless he was standing right in front of it.
Also, I don’t understand your aversion to being hassled by whores. That’s part of the fun of being in Africa. I found myself wondering if Roland’s neighbor who knocked on your door was a pygmy whore or a regular-sized whore. Or maybe she just a woman who genuinely needed something and now she thinks all white dudes are fraidy cats who won’t open a door for an African lady. I’m guessing regular-sized whore though.
Anyway, good luck getting to and from Sao Tome next week. That was always going to be a tricky one. Madagascar won’t be easy either. I also don’t know how you’re going to get through the more humorless Arab countries (like Saudi Arabia), that I’ve been told will bar you not just for an Israeli stamp but also if they get wind that plans involve visiting Israel. So you may have to tell them “I’d like to visit your country because I’m on a quest to travel to every nation on earth . . . uh, except Israel.”
Good blogging. You’re nuts dude.
Couple of things – I’ve had no problems whatsoever with any of the taxi drivers in any of the other places I’ve been in Africa, but the motorbike taxis in Cotonou had just dropped in from another planet. They were like windup toys that just keep going in any old direction until they hit something. Honestly, my French is bad but it isn’t that bad!!
As for being whore-adverse (moi?!), I had been warned by Roland that girls might knock on the door during the night – but even if she wasn’t on the game (and I’m not saying that she was) after the bus ride my mother always warned me about, the last thing I needed was to be dealing with a pushy broad in a one-room shack with no electricity. I just wanted to sleeeeeeeeep!!
hey mr hughes ,knowing your luck your mates in cape verde have phoned their brothers in st tome to let you know you are coming,,,by canoe????
Mate, you are quite mad, but your blogs are incredible! Stay safe.