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.
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.
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 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.
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!
Douala, Cameroon (for the last time on this trip)
A BIG Happy Birthday to my mate Rudi! Geniet hom buddy!