Day 35…Douala- I am outta here!

HI Guys,

No route today unless you want a map from the bar to my room to the pool.

I managed the monumental task of getting my bike around a country. Yes it is a cause for celebration tonight, where ever you are have a beer on the success.

Today at 1:30pm the airline loaded my steed and shipped it of to Addis Ababa and will return it (hopefully) to Accra, Ghana on Sunday night. I am off to Benin tomorrow and will cruise down the coast on public transport to Accra.

I am hooking up with an Aussie biker on the same route as me. Looking forward to have some company for the next couple of weeks unless I irritate him so much and he decides to make a run for it.

The story goes as follows. I started the week trying to find a shipping company to ship my bike around Nigeria after they refused to grant me a visa. I knew from the start that it was a no-go as the staff at these companies just looked at me and said we will phone you. I must have seen 4 shipping companies, 2 agents for air and sea freight, 5 airlines and all you get is static. No replies to email, no return phone calls…

I did get one phone call back from a chap by the name of Mohammed. He said to come and see him at the cargo area at Douala international airport. I thought whatever, they all told me to come and see them, they all told me to pay and that it’s no problem. Only to phone me back and tell me some story of the planes door being to small or just trying to tell me what an idiot he really is.

Mohammed said no stress, here is the price and instructed me to dismantle the bike, drain the fuel and crate it. I couldn’t get all the fuel out so I had to ride around the cargo section on what seemed to be a small airstrip . What do you think happened… I entertained the crowd by popping some wheelies on a super light R1200GS. After 15 min the cargo section was at a stand-still., everybody looking at the crazy “le blanc”.

Anyways one catch, it had to be on its side…mmm. I didn’t like it but I was desperate. We started and dropped the bike on its side but Mohammed could see that I was a ball of stress and didn’t really approve of this method.

Mohammed said that the bike doesn’t look healthy in that position. So he told me and the guys to remove the bike and wait for him. He suggested we use their partner airline as their planes are proper cargo planes and not mixed passenger and cargo.

I said cool. This was 1pm. I arrived there at 8am.

Draining the fuel.
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Dismantling the screen, mirrors etc.
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First attempt. Check the dodgy crate these guys built me.
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Ok so we removed the bike from the crate and I waited in the midday sun. Hours passed without a word. At 4pm I started repacking the bike and loading the panniers on as I had made up my mind. I decided to ride back to Gabon and try for a Nigerian visa in Libreville. If they said no, I go on to Brazzaville, Congo. If they say no there I go back to SA… I was totally fed up by now and just wanted to get out of Cameroon.

Mohammed came back and said “relax, put the bike on the crate we do customs etc.” I asked him what the price difference is flying with the other airline. He said not to worry. I haven’t paid anything so I thought, ok no problem, ill re-crate it. If the price is to high ill take it off again and ride back to the hotel and piss everybody at the cargo section.

We went to the “dangerous goods” agent. What a joke $200 to certify that my bike is not dangerous to fly. I told Mohammed I am not paying a cent until I have a price from the airline. This was 6pm.

Airline phones me at 6:30pm and gives me a price. I said to Mohammed ok lets roll. We went to get a piece of paper without any inspection that the bike is “safe”. Pay $200. Thank you for coming!

We go and see the “Customs Boss” he looks at the Carnet de Passage and says “ You get clearance for export” “ I said, do you know what this paper is?” He says yes and looks at it. I was surprised that he read it facing the right way up. He says that I must pay some fee. I said no, he said “Ok where do I sign”.

I gave the cops some coke money as their fee to sign the one form was $1. Ok, on to the other customs guy, he says he doesn’t think he has to do anything. Ok, pay the airport people to handle the cargo. I was done with the cargo department at 7:30pm. Now I had to get over to the airline to pay for the cargo.

Loaded and moved into the cargo hold.
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Yes its for me…
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When I arrived the price was double then what they quoted me on the phone. I freaked out and told the little man behind the counter what I thought of his calculations and told him to take that piece of paper and stick it up his arse! Doos!

He then phoned the “other guy” who gave the price and gave me a new price. Still $100 dollars more that the original quote but he told me that if I don’t like it I can go and collect my bike at the cargo hold. I paid.

So after the whole spectacle I got home 12 hours later and was invited by Manfred, his wife the managers at Foyer du Marin and the Croatian Captain, Vlatko to have a beer. They have seen me everyday walk up and down trying to arrange the shipment and tried their best to assist me.

I had a shower and we had some beers!
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Manfred and his wife.
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Vlatko and me
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The best Beatles covers i’ve heard to date.
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I went in this morning and bought a ticket to Benin. So hopefully by Monday I will be connected to my steed again. I have to say that it looks great and so adventurous when you see the RTW guys ship their bikes from continent to continent, but man o man it’s a bitch!

I phoned Mohammed 6 times today to find out if the bike has been loaded and if all is ok. At 3:30pm he phoned me and said “yes, the bike is gone”. I was relieved and immediately started packing and getting ready for my flight tomorrow.

I would have never been able to do it without Mohammed’s help, at least not within week or two.

Mohammed(right) the cargo manager and the guy who ran to the shop for me the whole day to buy cokes.
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Tomorrow my journey continues and guess who is over the moon at the thought of that!

Its Friday night! I am having my last beer with the amazing people at the Foyer Du Marin. Any bikers/overlanders have to pull in here.

See you guys on the other side of Nigeria!

Cheers
Riaan
Douala, Cameroon (for the last time on this trip)

A BIG Happy Birthday to my mate Rudi! Geniet hom buddy!

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10 responses to “Day 35…Douala- I am outta here!

  1. Hi Riaan – I work with your mate Dirk van Rooy and he told me about your trip. Awesome stuff!! I travel around Africa for work and you are heading to one of my favorite places – Accra!!! Try and get to Monsoon Pub and restaurant in Ossu, the restaurant, backpacker, pub area in Accra and have a proper chow. Steve the manager is a Kiwi Whois a bit mal and loves rugby. Travel safe and enjoy the ride. Hope the GS arrives safe from Addis:-)

  2. Hi Riaan – sorry man, I style it in hotels 🙂 Company pays ha ha. Ossu is the area where all the backpackers stay…sure there are plenty around there. It’s about 10 – 15 mins from the airport. When you head out of the airport and get to the main double lane road hook a left…that’s the general direction. If you feel like having a Lekker SA steak there is a Rhapsodys at the Accra Mall where Game and Shoprite are. That’s about 5 minutes from the airport if you turn right into the main road when you leave the airport. good luck!!!

  3. Hey Geert, Ja is goed hoor. We kunnen hem opvangen tot en met maandag. Nadien zal hij aan zijn lot worden overgelaten. Indien hij dan nog hier vastzit zullen we hem in een guesthouse stoppen. Het telefoonnummer van Dominique is 00229 97 97 22 00. groeten Nathalie
    unquote
    Riaan, call Dominique on above number, he is working at the airport
    (cotonou). Your transit with this family is not guaranteed, but he will help You! ——————–regards geert

  4. its getting more and more exciting. well done.
    do you remember our hassles to get our dinghy shipped in madagascar? how do you compare this experience to what we went through?
    xxxx

    ththoruthrough in Majunga?

  5. Hey Riaan, it was very nice meeting you! Wishing you a safe journey to Accra ! And a wonderful time in Europe ! Go for it !

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