In 2002, just after my 22nd birthday we took a trip to the south, my friend Juce, my brother and I. We drove my old Mazda 626 from Tallinn to Gibraltar and then continued on foot into Africa. We hitchhiked onto trucks, little peugeots and scooters. We got as far as southern Morocco, to the town of Tarfaya. We made some friends along the way.
Later on, in 2009, my brother and I went back. This time we took the trip on motorcycles from London, through Spain into the Sahara. We stopped over at the friends we made in 2002 at Tarfaya and finally ended up in Bamako, Mali. We had been away for 5 weeks, we had to get back to the real life.
Now we’re hitting the road again. We had been talking about this literally from the day we got back from the last trip. We never arrived at a destination, we just took a break. Finally this summer we decided. We would send out the bikes in a container to Lagos, Nigeria. We would follow on the plane, pick up the bikes and then continue east and then south. First Cameroon and then into the jungles of Gabon, probably not much further than Libreville.
One late October night Juka arrives in London on his Suusi, after a long and wet ride from Tallinn. Suusi is what he calls his Suzuki DR650. My KTM640 is fondly named Kotilda after the mighty Norwegian godess. We start looking for a way to ship the bikes to Lagos. There are plenty around London, who mostly deal with TVs, washing machines, refrigirators. I found a shipping company in Essex, who were flexible with the size of the crate and ships partial containers (LCL). They also had a ship being loaded next week to Lagos. Checking their website where and when the next ships sail can get the adventurous mind very excited. They also offered to come and pick up the crate at my house for nothing more than £295. Shipping isn’t that expensive.
So we started building the crate. We had done it before in Bamako, when we were flying the bikes back home last time. This time we made a way better crate than the one in Bamako. The third one we could already sell for money, I’m sure. We built most of it on a Saturday (timelapse).
Last minute wahala
Sunday morning when I came downstairs to finish it up, my brother was surprised: “Thought you had gone out. Your bike is not on the street where you left it last night.” Damn it. I’ve been towed before, but not in the middle of the night. The police confirmed that the bike had not been towed, I reported it stolen. It had been on the street for 6 years and now, hours before it was to go on the journey it was built for – it got stolen. I was already browsing ebay for cheap enduros, when the cops called back a few hours later: “We’ve found your bike. It’s a few blocks away from you.” Locals had reported kids in hoodies pushing my Kotilda down the roads trying to bump-start it at 4am in the morning. We rocked up, the police van was already there, the ignition lock was broken off and wires ripped out. Guess they couldn’t find the youtube video for stealing this particular bike fast enough. We pushed it back and 15 mins later I short circuited my own bike using a paper clip. Kotilda started up like a charm.
Wednesday night we took the bikes apart (timelapse) and finished up the box. Thursday morning the van took the crate (timelapse) to Felixstowe, where they put it into a container to wait for MSC Suez to pick it up on its voyage to Lagos Nigeria. Over the next weeks while we were having fun preparing convincing documents for the Nigerian embassy, the box sailed the Atlantic following the adventurers of centuries ago.