Libreville, the capital with 300,000 people, is like a little island built on the river estuary. There is one shitty road connecting it with the rest of Gabon, one way in and out of the city. Apparently the second largest city, Port-Gentil, doesn’t even have a single road getting to it and only way to move in and out is by boat. In spite of its isolation, or perhaps thanks to it, Libreville feels quite relaxed and European. (more…)
I previously claimed that the road entering Cameroon is possibly the best tarmac in sub-saharan Africa. The Gabonese trumped it. Not only is the road from their border fantastic, they have also trimmed away 3m of the jungle from both sides of the road. Gabon looks like it could be just a slightly poorer departemangue of France. The simple houses are made of stone with lawns carefully mown and trimmed. Some gardens even have flower pots. (more…)
In the morning we saw someone showing of his catch just a few miles from our campsite. He was holding a headless snake up high but it was still taller than the dude without the head on. It was one fat snake – maybe 20cm diameter. We tend to spend the evenings arguing, which of the wild animals we should be afraid of. I’m always pitching for de snake. (more…)
The road south from Yaounde towards Gabon is spotless tarmac – national road #2. Before Gabon border at Ebowala we turn west onto national road #17, which is nothing more than a dirt path leading into the rainforest. That dusty and lumpy path is 170km long and ends on the coast in Kirbi. 20km in I lose Juka’s headlight in the mirror. Instead there is a slightly bigger cloud of dust. As the dust settles, I can see Juka pulling Suusi out of a 1m deep trench, where he had crashed in the middle of the road and once I get back there he is surrounded by about 20 villagers, all talking something, but the only thing I understand is “whisky”. Initially I thought they were joking about my brother being drunk, but I later realised they were sure we were carrying whisky and wanted some for themselves. (more…)
7:30 am we arrive at Tincan Island port. The bikes are supposed to come out today, but I’m leaving nothing to chance now. Our customs agent is clearly stressed and suggests we meet at Dominos next to his office. He is a petty thief. He is stealing from his employer – Sifax, who are decent shipping company. When it gets to payment, he insists I transfer the money to his personal account. So he gets the jobs through his employer, uses the company’s connections and tools, but charges as a freelancer. My friend manages a fleet at a logistics company here and complains that everyone steals. The driver claims that the vehicle (vecu in pidgin) is broken. It may be, but he has created that fault so that his friend can charge for fixing it. Their imagination is active, one dude had filled the fuel tank with toilet paper. (more…)
It is Wednesday afternoon of 23rd Dec in Lagos and our customs agent is near breakdown on the phone. He has been at the port the whole day trying to get a truck from Apapa to the Tincan island port to pick up the box with the bikes. It is only 5 miles away, but the whole area is blocked by tankers, so in the whole day his truck couldn’t make any progress at all. Nigeria produces 3% of the world’s oil, but suffers fuel scarcity. It doesn’t refine itself – sells the oil to americans and buys back petrol. Of course now that the crude price dropped and petrol in Nigeria is subsidised at €0.40 there is no fuel in the stations and people queue for days if there is a chance of a fill up.
“Nigeria is a zoo,” says Genebahaga. He is an 18 year old security guard at my friends house, where we are staying in Lagos. He is frustrated with the state, where some people are filthy rich and the majority of the 180m dirt poor. There is nowhere to go. He shows me his mathematics book, he is studying differential equations for the exams to get into the university and study medicine or biotechnics. He doesn’t yet have the €70 needed for exams. (more…)