I have been out of it the last 2 days. I have been on the road little over 2 weeks and I have allready contracted Malaria. I am healing slowly.
I left Dolisie rather casually, first stopping at the internet café and then the garage. Please understand I am no slacker I was up at 6am, against my will but up none the less. I was pleasantly woken by the hotel owner snorting his snot from his bowels outside my room’s door. None the less I was up, I enquired about the road ahead and I was told “no problem my friend, good road. 6 hours to Ndende!”
I was horrified by the sight of a French keyboard. Who types like that? I finished up there and then headed of to the local gas station for some “essance” (spell check). I filled up and headed out of town to the gravel road taking me to Gabon.
I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that once I joined the road my speed was 60km/h and I was cruising. The first 50km went without a hitch…
I thought no stress just a bad patch! I passed various logging trucks carrying huge chopped down trees. I marvelled at the beautiful landscapes. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but the people of Congo are really friendly, they wave and shout “bonjour” at will.
After another bad patch of mud I thought that this is recurring to often and I started to sweat a bit! I pulled over and had a break. I realised that I was moving really slowly and I didn’t bring enough water along for this midday heat. I didn’t thing to much of it while I snacked on my Mars bar and greeted yet another mother gathering some fruits and nuts for tonight’s family feast.
I headed out and hit some really hectic mud patches, by now I knew I wasn’t making Ndende by nightfall. I tried to carry on but the mud was just to slippery. Every 20 meters I was fighting to keep the bike upright. It was exhausting work and I started talking in my helmet. I had some word altercation with the soil beneath me. Once out of the way I pushed on again…
I struggled to pick the bike up. (I have this on video) After about 15min of slipping in the mud trying to correct the bike, I managed with some swearing to lift the bike up!
Ok I pushed on trying to survive at this stage. I had almost zero water and the sun was belting down on me. I stopped at a local village and grabbed some water from there local “pompe” . Its like a borehole with a manual pump. I gulped down numerous litres and filled up my bottle again.
Not 2km down the road I had my second spill. Again I was under the bike trying to pick it up. (Being all calm and collected does not pick up a caravan on its side) I started swearing again and viola, the bike was upright!
I said to myself that that should be enough for today I am sure. The “great adventure bike riding through Africa god” must have had enough giggling by know! So I mounted up, started the bike and set off… I meant fell off. I had barely ridden 10m and I was down again.
By now everybody that knows me will know how I react to situations like this. I was absolutely pissed off! I thought to myself the whole time” who wants to ride on this shit?” “This is no adventure, its arms day at the gym!” (Nick de Sousa)
I didn’t take a picture as I was to embarrased. I picked up the bike again and thought I should call it quits for today. I stopped a few guys on little Chinese 125cc bikes and asked them where the next village was. They said just over “hsyfgtsvhhcbshj” I said “cool not so far then, see you later”
What happened to me next is what you see in the BBC documentaries…
I eventually arrived at the village 30min or so later. I asked the first boy if I could sleep in there village. I explained that I have a tent and that I am just to stuffed to ride anymore. He replied with a cool “No problem”…
This is my story of Gael. He is a 19 year old guy from the village “Panga”. As soon as I parked his mother brought me a chair and told me to sit down. I sat and watched as all the little kids came up towards me in silence. They probably knew that I was knackered!
He asked me if I wanted some water. I said please. We sat for a while and I answered some of his questions. He could speak some English as he goes to a “college” some 30km away. I asked if he had some smokes and off he went, got me some and said I should just tell him if I need more.
After 30 min of just sitting and getting myself back in shape. I changed and asked him were I can pitch my tent, he said no! You sleep in my room! I just said cool man… I was in no mood to pitch a tent.
We met his family. It’s a family village.
I was told by some of the guys that I should wait for the sun to shine at least one day before I head of again. I have to agree with them, If anybody is planning this road on a bike, make sure it didn’t rain the week or day before.
I woke up the next morning with light rain falling on the tin roof. Gael and I was sharing a double bed. No mattress just some sponge and a well used sheet and a mozzie net. The floor is made of mud and he has some of his idols pinned to the wall. He also had a small light and a small table the size of a McDonalds try that held all of his earthly possessions. I had so many emotions going through me at once… I am just visiting and I had more in one pannier than the total possessions of this cool guy.
I woke at 7:30am and asked if I could warm some water for coffee. They chucked some more wood on and left me to it. This was going to be my first coffee in 2 weeks as my little stove broke. I grabbed some oats and asked Gael if he wanted some. We boiled the water and had some coffee and oats. He seemed sad that I was leaving.
His mom came around and gave me a bucket with water to brush my teeth and clean up. I packed and kitted up and waved the crowd good bye. I had tears in my eyes as I left, I don’t even get welcomed like that at my local pub.
100m meters down the road I stopped and called Gael. He came running down the muddy track. He asked if everything was ok. I said it was and gave him one of my new t-shirts and told him to email me when he gets back to college were they have a computer.
I started the ride positively and told myself to be positive. I managed the first few mud patches and kept telling myself to push on when it got through. I got into a rhythm and kept moving. I was making good ground and the road seemed to be improving. I got to a few hairy patches of deep muddy water but got through them.
I passed one of a few villages and there was a guy standing with a tube and showing me that he needed air to inflate the tire. I waved and said sorry mate. (My compressor was packed right at the bottom of the panniers). I stopped a few meters laters and said to him to bring the tube. I unpacked everything and told myself that I should stop being so selfish… We used the compressor to inflate the tire and he ran off to fit the tyre to his Chinese bike. He came around the corning revving and smiling!
Then I reached one muddy patch that was quite tricky, I couldn’t see the small Chinese bikes tracks. I usually follow them through these water sections. I picked a line and BOOM I was stuck!
I stood there and knew I was knee deep in trouble. Around the corner came a local guys on a scooter and told me that he will push while I try and free the bike. With no success he told me to wait. Something about a village and a spade. I waited.
True to his word he came back with a HUGE shovel. We started digging but the bike was belly up! We looked at each other knowing that I was stuffed. Trying to figure out what was going to save me I heard a scooter coming in the distance. Guess who it was waving his arms around? It was my puncture guy of less than 20 min ago! He happened to be going in the same direction.
We tide some of my straps around the crash bars and before I knew it we were pulling and pushing the bike out of the mud hole. Bravo!!!! I shouted and the old guy just looked at me straight face waving his finger “Non Bravo!”
He showed me that there was still some bad sections ahead. He told me to follow him. He navigated the way like a pro, I must have looked like a chop with my BMW.
He shouted and pointed “transfrontier”. I waved goodbye as I started to see the border gate ahead.
My couple of days in Congo has been amazing! What an experience!
I went up to immigration but nobody was home. I looked around and saw I guy running up with a beer in his hand. He stamped my passport, tried to say something about my visa being invalid and something about a penalty… I started talking to him in Afrikaans and explained to him what I thought about his trick! He let me go and I was into Gabon!!!
The Gabonese side was such a pleasure. Clean well dressed policeman helped me. Stamped me in and knew were to bloody stamp the carnet.
The people were even more friendly than in Congo. I headed up towards Ndende and fuelled up and pushed on towards Mouila. It is gravel and a bad gravel road at that from Ndende to Mouila. I reached just before the rain came down, 9 hours later and found a small hotel and settled for the A/C room. Had a shower and beer and some chicken and rice thing.
As I went to bed I passed my courageous steed and gave him a pat on the tank and promised to get the mud off him asap!
I was lying in bed watching movie when I got a massive headache and my joints became sore. It felt like flu, but very suddenly. I left it for a few hours and thought to myself that Ferdie told me what the symptoms are for Malaria. I got onto the Coartem emmediatly and was man down for the last 2 days.
I am still in Mouila and will problably leave tommorow to head north if the weather holds up and I feel better.
I have all the videos done I just need to upload to you tube. Will have to wait for free wifi.
Have a good week. I am off to start packing for tommorow.