West Africa: Destination Cameroon


Day 17
Woke up early to catch the ferry across the Congo River to Brazzeville. Izaak arrived at about 8am , he was going to help me to do the crossing
as he knows a couple of people in the port who could speed up the process with customs. He also had a news paper article with
a story of my motorcycle trip. I had been interviewed by The Daily Report, a local newspaper, who had been interested in my trip and my experiences
in the DRC. I was completely shocked to see a half page article in the paper describing my trip. It explained how I was very surprised to find the DRC a good country
to visit, with great people and that I felt very safe walking around Kinshasa enjoying the nightlife and good restaurants. They don't normally
get good feedback from visitors, so were very happy to report on my stay and encourage  tourism in the country.
CROSSING THE CONGO RIVER

We both got onto the heavily loaded bike and headed for the port. The port was teaming with thousands of people from various African countries all coming or going from Kinshasa.
We found his contact, a local customs official. He took my passport and motorcycle papers and dissapeared into the madness.
I knew that if we did not have a contact that the  crossing would be a nightmare. Half an hour later he was back with all the stamps and paperwork necessary aswell as a ferry ticket.
Loading the bike onto the ferry was difficult as it does not normally carry vehicles. After lots of screaming and shouting we managed to squeeze the bike onto the boat
packed with people and their good. 
Getting across to Brazzaville took about 20 minutes, but getting my bike off was very difficult as there was no ramp to drive it  off.
Izaak recruited about 8 men to lift the bike and carry it off the boat onto the jetty.It was absolute chaos with everybody shouting and screaming at each other.
Eventually we succeeded in getting the bike off the boat. 
This was where the real problems started. I gave my passport to the Congolese customs officials and they immediately wanted to know what 'business' I had come to do in the Congo.
I told them I was not on business, I was just going to be touring through the country on route to Gabon. The problem was that the visa was, for some unknown
reason, stamped as a business visa, when I received it in South Africa. I never realized this as it was written in French.
They told me I was not allowed to enter the Congo and that I was in a lot of trouble for trying to enter the Congo under false pretenses.
I phoned Alpha, my contact in DRC. He sent his cousin, who lives in Brazzeville, to come down to the port and sort things out. Ten minutes later a man named Dodo
arrived . His friend was Head of Customs and Emigration, and he convinced them to let me in. Thank goodness for all these people who have helped me.


I found a place to stay called  Hippo Campus. A great spot were I met another overland biker called Roman from Poland.
Roman had being waiting in Brazzeville for a month, trying to get a visa for the DRC, but was not having any luck. Apparently they only issue visas in your home
country.
On my first night in Brazeville, Dodo arrived at the Hippo Campus to take me for supper and show me around Brazzeville. He was a great guy. We went to his favorite local restaurant and then he took me to see the destruction the munitions depot had caused when it exploded a few months back. All the buildings within a 1 km radius had being totally destroyed. They estimate that more than 1000
people were killed in the explosion.
We then ant off to a local pub for a few beers. It was a really good evening out.

DAY 18
Th next day I woke up early and went to breakfast at a local stall close to the Hippo Campus with Roman. We had bananas and oatmeal mixed together. Not my 
favorite, but it filled me up. After returning to Hippo Campus and fixing a few things on the bike, I slept for the rest of the day. That evening I went out for supper with 
Roman to another one of his local haunts. We had a French bread roll with peanut butter and banana. It was good, especially washed  down with
a beer. Brazzeville is a busy city with many market and informal businesses everywhere. The people are super friendly despite living in absolute poverty.
I chatted with Roman who has also travelled from Alasca to Patagonia, the tip of South America. He had some very interesting stories and I think that may
be my next bike trip!


Day 19

I left Brazzaville for Luttete , about 150 km away. It was a terrible sand road running through small villages.I drove most of the day and only arrived as it was getting
dark. Luckily I found a room for the night.I would rather had camped but, there was no option.
A truck driver heard me speaking to the owner of the rooms and came over and introduced himself as he could see I was battling to
explaining myself in French. Nobody talks English, which really makes this trip challenging. luckily he could speak some English and we went out for some beers.
He drives trucks for his father, delivering goods between Dollisia and Brazzeville.

Day 20
Left the next day at 6am for Dolosie. Another hectic days riding and I'm really starting to get tired. It is first and second gear for hours on end only stopping 
for short water breaks. Having many close calls with falling, but so far have stayed top side up.The bike seems to be loosing a bit of power.
Will have to clean the air filter soon.
Arrived at Dollisie and found a truckers stop over where I got a room with no water or toilet. The room was however clean and there was a safe place to park the bike.
Found a local bar /restraunt to get some food. they only had monkey or chicken with fried bananas- I went for the chicken.
I went back and plotted my course for the long stretch to Gabon going north to Ndende.

CAMEROONIAN DISH: CHICKEN + FRIED BANANAS

Day21
Woke up early at 5am to get a good start as I knew this was going to be the biggest challenge of the whole trip.
Firstly, my stomach was very sore, and I felt extremely nauseas. This was not good, but took some immodium and valoid and left.
Again, tough road but very few people around. The vegetation is thick long straw like grass on the side of the road and then forest sections.
I rode for about 1 hour and was feeling really awful, but knew there was little I could do but keep going. Luckily I had lots of water, but was praying that the bike
staye in one piece. I am constantly fixing broken bolts with cable ties to hold my luggage racks onto the bike.
Got stuck in the sand a few times and had to get off the bike and push. Eventually arrived in a village were the local chief /police wanted to check my passport. He was
very aggressive and called a few other guys to come over and look at the passport. I could see this was going to be an attempt to get money from
me. Next thing he started pointing at a visa for China in my passport and shouting problem problem! Then shouting dollars dollars. I was in a tricky situation because I knew he was
trying to extract money from me. I pulled out my credit card and told him, no money. This confused them all. Eventually after playing the waiting game,
I managed to grab my passport back from him and rode off. Still not feeling well and trying to stay conscious, I made my way to the border
where I made it through customs relatively easily with very friendly customs officials working out of a shabby building.
Into Gabon and onto Ndende, where I had to get through customs again to enter Gabon officially. It went relatively smoothly , except for the fact that I did not have a visa for Gabon as it is
not a requirement for SA passport holders. After alot of checking and questioning I got my entry stamp and road off looking for a place to stay. I tried two guest houses but both were full.
Asked if i could camp at the immigration office but they said no as they were not prepared to take responsibility for me and the bike.
As usual, I asked a local on the street. he had a scooter and I followed him to a run down place where the owner was quite shocked to see
a white guy looking to sleep over. They gave me a room, absolutely filthy, toilets outside with no roof and the building falling to pieces.
Luckily there was an old Nigerian guy there who could talk English. I told him I was not feeling well and he went off and made me some pepper soup
with a bread roll, which I think was his supper. Fantastic guy, he bought me clean water, and we sat and chatted about his life
and how he got to be living in Gabon. He was a sculptor and made sculptures for the local markets but I could see he was really battling to survive.
Went to bed and felt something very rodent-like walk over my back. This was creepy and I turned on my torch but could not find what it was.
Hardly slept the whole night.

Day 22
Woken a 6am with a knock at the door, it was Michael the Nigerian guy. He told me to come to his room were he had a fresh french
bread and some marmalade jam. I had some hot chocolate powder, boiled some water and we both enjoyed the meal together.
Feeling a little better than the day before, I left for Libreville. A stunning ride on good tarred road winding its way through a huge rain forest that went through small villages
and over big wide rivers. I stopped to take pictures of the local fishermen in their wooden canoes laying out their nets.
After 570 km I arrived in Libreville, it was dark now and I had no clue where to find accommodation. I drove down the beach road and found
the Meridian Hotel. This was right on the beach but they wanted 285 dollars per night. I was so tired I agreed. By this stage I would have paid anything for a clean room with a decent
shower with hot water and my own bathroom. By SA standards the room was terrible for the price, but for me it was heaven.
Had the longest hot shower in my life and came out feeling like a new man. Went across the road to a local
Lebonese deli and had a a great meal with beef, chips, coldslaw and vegetables. I was feeling good now and went back to the hotel for a beer, but a beer was R75 for a small Heineken. I walked out and went back to the room
were I slept for 10 solid hours. 


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