Analogue Africa - Top to bottom just before the Internet

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by richeyroo, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. siswati

    siswati Adventurer

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    Glad to have you back RicheyRoo - keep the episodes coming. And yes, Africa can be and exasperating experience!
  2. Zanie

    Zanie n00b

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    Thanks for continuing this interesting report. I like your writing style. Photos not strictly necessary as a result.
  3. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Glad you're back. Carry on.
  4. -Z-

    -Z- Adventurer

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    Such an amazing RR! probably one of the best i've ever read!!

    I've been to Morocco in 2016 with my '90 600XT, with pretty much the same organisation as you had, wonderful trip - would love to go again and do more
  5. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    That's kind thank you. And we have a very long way to go. I'd really like to write a book and I've done about 10000 words for that which got me as far as Senegal I think.
    Vacillator likes this.
  6. malloy

    malloy Long timer Super Supporter

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    Glad to see you back here to finish up a brilliant report from back in the day. It's almost like you were hippies . . . or something. No plan, no itinerary, no internet or GPS. However you made it! Back in the day . . . different times. We were lucky. IMHO :-)
  7. Vacillator

    Vacillator Adventurer Supporter

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    Great Story....worth the wait. 1107 days you say. Time flies.:lol3
  8. neppi

    neppi Been here awhile

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    Superb!
  9. dazco

    dazco Been here awhile

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    Sheffield, just north of the equator
    Richeyroo, I've loved reading all this so far, I'm doing a night shift on the outskirts of Sheffield, it's cold and snowing outside. This has cheered my night up no end.
    If you ever do a full on book about this I'll buy copy.
    As for your comments about sat nav and tinternet, I get great satisfaction from telling the young uns here what the world was like without it. Makes me feal old but what the hell.
    Daz
    Snowq likes this.
  10. TonyL

    TonyL n00b

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    Talk about a ripping yarn! I've been reading these pages practically on the edge of my seat. It's a proper page turner alright and one's gagging for next instalment. BZ.
  11. raddad

    raddad Raddad

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    Mate - Love the story - "But people seem to ask so many questions before they set off and have so many plans." - hell yeah they do. I promise that if all your followers picked a day for their dream ride and left on time with nothing more but a start date and end date - the experience would be just like it was for you. All NEW...NO PRE_RIde reco, just a dream for adventure....peace to you
  12. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    Our long long wait at the Benin customs hut had rather ruined our plans for the day. Which is why you should never plan.

    But we had given a bit of thought of entering Nigeria because to be frank, Tracy and I were quite scared and nervous. We had heard too many tales of corruption, violence, unpaid policemen and unpaid soldiers to feel relaxed and comfortable about entering the next country on our little jaunt. It was all rather irrational but the Ivory Coast sounded rather splendid, I got my hair cut in the "Jesus ill always love you" barbers in Ghana, Togo was just bumming around on the beach and we had avoided all the voodoo in Benin. But Nigeria worried us and we had thought that we wouldn't really want to camp wild as we had done on about 90% of the trip so far.

    Just so long as our first encounter with Nigerian authority was pain free, it would give us confidence to head off into the unknown (except we knew it would the scary)

    The Nigerian border post was the same as every other border post in the world . Horrible. There were chancers, fixers, troublemakers, and extortionists, and that was just in the customs office. People swarmed everywhere, hustlers, hawkers, market traders , animals, massively overloaden trucks and knackered old cars belching smoke. As ever Tracy and I had to split, one to stay with Howard, the other to fight a duel to the death with immigration officials.

    It was never an easy decision but on this occasion, I preferred that Tracy fought to the death inside whilst I sat around by the motorbike, answering strange questions and keeping the pilferers away. I hoped that an element of formality inside the buildings would be slightly safer for Tracy than staying amongst the mass of humanity that surged backwards and forwards around Howard like a wild sea

    Now I don't know what went on in those buildings and Tracy didn't want to explain as we just wanted to move on and get away from the border area as quickly as we could. What I can say is this. She entered the immigration office brandishing 2 English passports with Visas allowing us to enter the country for 3 months

    She left the building about an hour later, emerging triumphantly into the sunshine with a 3 day transit visas, meaning we would have to be out of Nigeria and into Cameroon by Monday evening. And it was already late Saturday afternoon. And our perception was that the edge might be taken off routine Nigerian efficiency at the weekend because things hadn't been great so far
    nails1, squadraquota and Snowq like this.
  13. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    I think the Nigerians hated the English and loved motorbikes because Howard was stamped in for as long as he wanted and he was free to go pretty much straight away

    Excitedly clutching our 3 day visas, we mounted up, the threesome all together, and looked to ride away from the border and find a decent hotel in Lagos before nightfall.

    We were stopped after about 1/2 a mile by policemen at a security check point and beckoned to join them at the side of the road. The usual stuff. Why were we there, how long were we there for (not long enough mate, or too long depending on your viewpoint) . Strangely enough they were broadly satisfied with our dull answers, which were fullsome in our praise of all things Nigerian and we were sent on our way. For about another mile

    Stopped again. Allowed on our way

    Stopped again

    Searched. They had a good rummage around everywhere and amongst the pants, tins of tuna and unwashed sleeping bags, they saw our diary

    Oh zut alors, what is this witchcraft they wanted to know. And there was no getting away from the fact, it was the diary of 2 English people, wandering around Western Africa on a motorbike, avoiding a European work ethic

    Tracy was marched into the policemen's hut. I waited by the bike for 20 minutes and was beckoned into a separate hut with the reassurance that Howard would be fine (with the obvious exception that every policeman within 5 miles would come and sit on Howard, twist the throttle to within an inch of breaking the cables and hunch down behind the screen.

    The questioning began in the style of a World War 2 film. Single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, a lazy fan doing it's stuff, pictures of some serious looking dude on the wall. Really quite serious, wanting to know details of where we had been and why. The diary was produced (flamboyantly) and it was suggested to me that Tracy and I were spies. Now I'm a bear of very little brain and my immediate thought was of Tracy. Not for her welfare or safety but how she would deal with the rediculousness of the situation. In retrospect, of course the situation was scary and the safety of young ladies of whatever religion and race can be in danger in all parts of the world. But I just found it funny and had to work so hard to suppress laughter. The thought of Tracy having to answer the same questions as me, denying that we were spies . On a heavily laden motorbike, moving very slowly with "The little donkey tour 1995 - Bewdley to Cape Town" written on our panniers was not the stuff of James Bond. No mate, we are not spies, we are work shy dossers from England
    undingen, B10Dave, nails1 and 2 others like this.
  14. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    Of course it was a ruse to get us to pay a bribe which we were very reluctant to do. It was an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience but not overly threatening so, without knowing what the other was doing, we both stood our ground for a couple of hours. We both took the same line which was....... Look at the state of us. Tins of Tuna were probably the most valuable asset we were in possession of and so we didn't have money to give away. A bit of pleading that we were a long way from home, Nigeria is a great and strong country and could we please go please. And in the late afternoon we were sent on our way. It was getting dark, the roads were getting busier and the suburbs of Lagos were becoming central Lagos. Which we didn't want.
    At one point however, we saw a sign that Silver Jubilee Hotel and we made an unlikely link to HM the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977
    We chanced our luck and knocked at reception.
    A small, friendly man emerged from a back room and couldn't hide his pleasure at seeing us. On finding out we were from England, he said "I am Commonwealth citizen, welcome, welcome, welcome". He refused to let us into our room until it had been cleaned and prepared to the very highest of standards. Which possibly weren't the standards which would of been expected by HM the Q had she visited in 1977.
    But he was a charming, warm, friendly man who welcomed us into his little oasis when we had been very scared.
    But he was a very sad man when we told him we needed to wake up at 6am as we had to get on the road to be out of Nigeria by Monday evening.
    Good people are good people all over the world
    undingen, B10Dave, Hamamelis and 5 others like this.
  15. Fifi

    Fifi Properly dirty.

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    Ol' Sydney Town, Australia.
    What a brilliantly worded story, the kind that belies the need for pictures, and the kind that would make for an absolutely spellbinding book.

    If you ever do finish that book mate, sign me up, I'm first in line!
    ACgypsy and nails1 like this.
  16. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

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    Oct 12, 2016
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    RVA, Beast Coast
    Glad this RR's revived itself, being as it is that I'm 26 and trying to plan out an African excursion in the next couple years (albeit with the logistical difficulty of starting in the US, which makes it a slightly more expensive venture)
  17. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    New Mexico
    You may've spoken a tad too soon.
  18. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    To all those who posted such positive and supportive comments, well thank you but sorry. Sorry because I just have absolutely no time to write this report. If I wrote it, I'd only want to write it properly and well and it seems like the last few posts that I've whacked out have been rushed and not what I'd like to do.

    So what happened next ? Long story short, we got to Cape Town about 5 months later and met up with Bertie and Connie Van der Cok, the lovely south Africans who we met in a campsite in Morocco. They were the lovliest (and probably wealthiest) people that we met on the whole trip. Their house in Cape Town had a small annex at the bottom of their garden and they very very kindly let us live there for about a month, where we recovered. I think we had both lost a huge amount of weight and Bertie and Connie were horrified at our condition when we turned up on their doorstep. They filled us up on Castle lager, braais, boboti and all sorts of wonderful south African food and we piled the pounds back on whilst touring vinyards, and hanging around the waterfront on the mighty XTZ750, feeling very proud and happy with our achievement (such as it was)

    How did we get to SA. Well it was a struggle. In short, Nigeria was tough, Cameroon was tougher, Central African Republic was very very tough and Zaire (as it was then was, now the Democratic Republic of Congo) was tougher still. It was the rainy season and over a couple of months we got increasing wetter, more dedraggled, weaker and my infected insect bites which covered my whole body made me more unattractive to Tracy than ever before. Which was a concern.
    Important things weren't happening when they should have been, vitally important things so I made an important decision. Turn around.

    We went back to Cameroon
    We went back to the port and like low quality prostitutes, we hung around the port touting for business. I think it was the insect bites that put the punters off but no ships would give us a lift to Cape Town. Plan B. Did we ever have a Plan A ?

    So we decided to fly across Zaire. The 48 hours it took to get on the plane is a book in itself but I'll try and do it in bullet form (using the diary as reference)

    • First quote £6 per kg which is over £1500
    • Told to go to airport and try and pay bribe direct to dudes at the airport
    • Big boss said £1 per kg if we pay him cash. Direct. Ho ho ho
    • There's a flight tomorrrow if we want, be at airport at 9am tomorrow as only chance if we want a lift on a cargo plane. Its now 3pm
    • Return to city, find banks to change money
    • Most banks closed
    • Find one open. Nope, try the hotels
    • Go to hotel who say yes, we will cash travellers cheques. Good
    • Tracy signs 20 cheques for tickets for me and Howard and her (about 700 hundred quid I think)
    • Hotel says "sorry we don't do Mastercard travellers cheques" Not good
    • Return to Airport, bribery man says don't worry, do it in the morning there will be plenty of time
    • Go back to cheap hotel and drink beer. Set alarm for 0600
    • Wake up at 0750 and instantly stress
    • Go to banks. Lots of "No we don't do travellers cheques"
    • 3rd bank. "Yes we do travellers cheques"
    • 3rd bank again "We can't cash these cheques, they are already signed yesterday. Are they stolen ?". Oh bloody hell
    • Find 4th bank , "Yes we cash travellers cheques." So we showed them a blank one and pretend to sign the ones which are already signed which the cashier is happy with.
    • It was easy to do as the previous days date was the 17th so it was easily changed to 18th. Happy days, now on Easy Street surely ??
    • Very stressed now and running very late. Split up, Tracy goes in taxi to airline office to pay tickets for us, I go to airport to get Howard onboard
    • Tracy arrives mid morning looking lovely and unflustered with 2 tickets for a cargo plane for us to sit in a small part of the plane set aside for passengers
    • She sees me looking a little flustered. Oh dear
    Trying to do anything in the airport was tricky, trying to do it half by bribes and half properly was an absolute nightmare. Rushing around changing money, pay departure taxes for the bike, waiting for officials, rushing too much and making mistakes, not filling out a departure card and rushing and rushing and rushing. For our 1255 flight we rush onto the aircraft in our motorcycle gear, carrying helmets at 1250.

    The pilot then told us there was a 4 hour delay so we sit on the plane with no drinks or food waiting for 4 hours to take off to Uganda
    kiwial and TDC_ERock like this.
  19. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    There were loads more adventures. Doing runners from Catholic missionaries, elefants charging at us (at no cost) , border guards thinking we were ungodly and spending a whole evening trying to convert us to Christianity before letting us across the border, punctures, accidents, public holidays and sitting in the sun, waiting 2 days for borders to open, larium fights with each other, wild camping and so on.

    After Cape Town ? Well we looked at each other and we looked at Howard. He was more knackered than us. We (okay I) didn't change the oil , change the spark plugs or clean the air filter for the entire length of Africa. The disks were paper thin and I could take the bald tyres of the wheels using by bare hands. Chain and sprockets ? Ho ho ho. Like a babys bum. I figured I'd fix something if it broke but nothing broke so I didn't touch the bike for entire year of the trip. Honestly. Not a damn thing. Start at the end of the day, turn off at the end of the day

    The daft thing is we still had cash in the bank back in the UK and in retrospect I wish we'd flown/shipped either to South America or Australia. But all 3 of us were absolutely kanckered. Properly knackered. We wild camped 90% of the time and it was an exhausting and exhilarating lifestyle and the stress of looking for somewhere to sleep every night for about 250 nights took it's toll
    kiwial likes this.
  20. richeyroo

    richeyroo XR650L, CRF450X,

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    So we flew home, all 3 of us back to the UK. Amazing.
    A 12 hour flight to cover the same distance and territories where we had spent the last year.

    What happened next ? Eventually Tracy and I went our separate ways, and are now both v happily married to other people and we both have a couple of kids. I worked in the Middle East for quite a while and Dad and I (and my now wife) drove home across the Middle East for 6 months through Saudi and Syria and all sorts of exciting places. And we did that journey just a few weeks before the 9/11 tragedy
    sages and kiwial like this.