Today was about great bike riding on mountain roads and on jungle tracks, falling off a ferry into a river, seeing fantastic wildlife, breakdowns and hospitality in a remote jungle village. It is going to be a long blog. ..
The bike is packed and I am ready to move north tomorrow. I plan to move quickly with the goal of getting as many kilometres ├¼n as I can by the end of the day.
I received an email from Street Child today with a letter of introduction for my visa application. Due to power; cuts so nobody able to print it for me, I took a chance and went to the consul with it on a memory stick. Fortunately they agreed to print it for me. I should be able to collect my passport thursday or Friday.
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.
I spoke to Emma of Street Child today and it looks like it may be safe to travel through the Ebola hit countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. This is great news as I may be able to visit some of the projects they have in those countries.
Only one week until the start of my trip and everything is in place. This weekend my old school mate Pete is coming up to help my service the bike and give it a final check. Pete is a bike mechanic so his expert opinion will be reassuring. Next Tuesday I am visiting Draiglas Explorer Scouts as the first Scouts meeting on my trip, I hope to meet many more before I finish.