We cross the border with Benin from Tamberma land and after some riding back and forth for the right stamps in our passports, we finally set off to the south. It is bloody hot again at noon and the sun has no mercy. And right thén, as I overtake one of the slow truck wrecks, I feel the rear wheel going sloppy all of a sudden. I cannot hit the brakes right away because that truck is going to run over me with those worn out brakes, that’s for sure. But the verdict is pretty clear soon: a long screw has punctured the rear.
I have been fixing the rear tyre for about 1.5 hours. The valve got sheared off and also the rim tape was destroyed. I fabbed my own from a piece of cut up and glued together heavy duty inner tube that fitted snugly around the rim and I fitted our last inner tube, a thinwall version. I have had better days, but we finally just made it to Parakou, the original destination for the day about 200 kms further south east.
A stop in Abomey takes a little longer than we had planned. Just as we decided to have dinner in the restaurant of a French white guy for once, I got struck by food poisoning and couldn’t but stay in bed for a whole day. Why oh why did we have to take something that wasn’t on the menu? No meat sir? That we make a quick vegetable sauce to go with the rice. So quick that they probably forgot to wash the veggies… I spent kilometers between my bed and the toilet that day.
But I have the impression that the Afro-mondaine atmosphere of Cotonou gets us back on our feet. We finally get our Congo RDC visa and decide to go ride the route des pêches that leads to the Porte du Non Retour, the last stop for slaves before they go on the boat to America. The story of how slaves got deported here… goosebumps!
Just before the Nigerian border it gets a bit tricky as we are visa card gets refused by the ATM, but some extreme economy even allows for a great breakfast of avocado and crispy baguette at a mere 0.60 €. We completely ran out of CFA’s now. Nigeria has a different currency.
We arrive at the Nigerian border by 9am and it’s a true hell. A brand new covered border checkpoint building is not used yet so all formalities are done outside. Moreover the Benin police want us to pay 50.000 CFA per person to just leave the country. They say there was some tax we didn’t pay when entering the country, which is untrue of course. But it means discussing again and that takes a lot of time… in the blistering heat of the sun… The police officer finally stamps our passports without payment and we cross to the Nigerian side of the border where they want to see every single document we have so it seems: Vaccination cards, passports, passports once more, bike paperwork some 500m away, some sort of interview by security, well, show me that vaccination card once more, a declaration for security services sir… It drives me nuts! Caroline doesn’t feel too well because of the heat and I look like a strainer: all I pour in on top runs straight to my pores…
And as if that weren’t enough, we got stopped by at least 10 different checkpoints over the next 25 kms. We get into the nightmare of Lagos rush hour, get amounts of black smoke thrown in our face that would make a Chinese mineworker jealous, and by 4pm we are both sick as hell in our bed. We have high fever, headache and we shit ourselves to death!
The next day we leave the local hospital with an amount of pills that would strike an elephant for sure. The doctor in basketball outfit and flipflops just couldn’t stop prescribing so it seems. But three days later, it seems to start working little by little.
We want to cross Nigeria as quickly as possible. This most densly populated country of Africa is very crowded and one could hardly call the locals the more discrete type. “White man, give me present!” They scream and shout all the time and moreover the abduction of “rich white people” is a flourishing business here. So we try to ride many kilometers on asphalt, or what once was asphalt… Enormous potholes filled with water and mud are what the road is like for about 50 kms east of Abas. Some off road fun after all.
In the meantime we are in Calabar, right at the border with Cameroon. Tomorrow will bring some bad piste to the border and it’s raining cats and dogs. The rainy season brings mud and cooler temperature, at last…