Opposite the hotel in Bobo was a bike repair shop so first thing I wandered across to ask about them helping do an oil change (they do the mucky bits of a service) we agreed a price and layer I came across with the bike. While he did the oil, I checked the plug, cleaned the air filter etc. Half hour later the bike was serviced.
Last night I went to sleep with the sounds of a big thunderstorm. Lighting flashes were almost continual as was the rumble of thunder. I definitely made the right choice of not camping. I got a very good 9 hours of sleep and woke to a very different world to the one I left the night before.
As you will have guessed from my posts over the last few days, I have been wrestling with a choice between continuing East then South to Cape Town and fly home, or to go West then South to Sierra Leone and then North back through Europe. It was not an easy choice to make but I am now 100% confident I have made the right one. I am going to Sierra Leone.
Nothing has really changed apart from my route. My final destination has always been to get home safely. Cape Town in South Africa was just part of the route. The journey and meeting people’s was always the real goal. The number of kilometers travelled will be similar because I am at the halfway point.
Changing the route has the following advantages:
I miss the trouble spots of Nigeria and Boko Haram. The border between Nigeria and Cameroon is still officially closed, although some people are getting through.
I miss the physically difficult stages of the Congos where there is little tarmac and lots of deep rutted roads. I am 51 years old. 😆
I get to go visit the Street Child projects in Sierra Leone.
I save myself about ┬ú2,500 in air fares and shipping to get me and the bike back to the UK.
The downsides of changing the route were:
Missing the wildlife reserves in Southern Africa – but I have walked with lions; plus they have some reserves here in Ghana that i plan to visit next week.
Letting other people down. This was especially brought home to me by the look on Hussains face when I told him my decision yesterday. He looked crushed and he explained that he wanted me to achieve my goal of getting to South Africa. We have had long discussions about it since then and I hope he now accepts that reaching South Africa was never my goal. My goal was to travel by motorbike to see the world and meet people. I will continue to do that, just by a different route.
With the new route in mind, I needed o get a few more visas.
Burkino Faso was first on my list this morning so dropped off my passport there and completed the forms. I was asked to return at 3pm to collect it so next went to Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone embassies to find out what was needed for them.
Meeting the lady at the Cote D’Ivoire embassy was a strange experience. I still don’t know if she was taking the piss out of me, or we misunderstood each other, or what it was. Anyway it would take 3 days and they were unclear as to whether I could get Laisee Passee for the bike. I decided to go around that country not through it.
Guinea was a totally different experience. It turned out the guy that opened the main gate and let me in was not your usual security guard. He was the deputy consol. He explain what I needed, he even wrote it down for me and said it usually took 5 days. He gave me his personal number before i left and said to call him any time. I definitely want to visit Guinea.
Next was Sierra Leone, again a friendly reception, explained what I needed to do and told me the process takes 3 days. I also need a letter of introduction from Street Child Sierra Leone. I will be emailing them later to ask for this.
At just after 3pm i had my passport back and was on my way to the Guinea embassy again. I expected to drop off my application and go back next week to collect it. No! Our friendly deputy consol greeted us (Hussain was with me this time) and he did it all there and then. I walked out with my passport complete with a multiple entry visa (it was expensive though $200).
Time for the beach Ôÿ║ we spent the rest of the day swimming and lounging around on a private beach managed by those great guys at CPS Security. Tomorrow i have been invited to a music record launch party at the same beach.
A great day was completed by Hussains wife cooking me another great meal.
The Ghana customs have confirmed that my TIP deposit cannot be transferred to another border post so I must return to the entry point to get it back.
I had expected that reply but i am extremely grateful to everyone who tried to make it happen. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
Now I need to consider my next move. I need to get another Burkina Faso visa as my other was single entry; so I will start that process tomorrow morning. Then I either go for an Ivory Coast or a Nigerian visa depending on whether I head East or West from that point. I can delay the decision until Friday or even longer if I wanted to.
Going East would be keeping my original destination of Cape Town. Going West would be heading towards Sierra Leone which I was disappointed to have bypassed on my way down.
I know some people will say the goal is Cape Town but those that have followed my planning from the start will know my goal is to travel and to meet people. My destination was originally my brother in Perth, Australia but world events meant the destination and route has changed several times. With this in mind, my journey continues even if the destination changes.
On a brighter note, Hussain’s wife cooked me dinner tonight and we ate at his house. He has a beautiful wife who is a great cook and two lovely children. As he arrived home his little daughter came running up to him to give him a big hug. She then honoured me with a hug too. That was the most important part of the day.
OK I will get it back as it is a deposit on a temporary import permit for the bike but it does mean a change in plan (again). I have to exit Ghana by the same border I entered to get my money back.
On a brighter note I changed the chain on my bike this morning with the help of a few friendly locals. What a difference, a much quieter and smoother ride.
Actually its Bobo Dioulasso, a town just inside the border between Mali and Burkino Faso. I am stopping here in a cheap hotel for the night ready to cross the border into Ghana tomorrow.