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N’Djamena, Chad; KM 47,150 to KM 51,120 July 1, 2009

Posted by marcusbest in Uncategorized.
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I have a stubborn streak that is bound to get me into trouble some day. The road I took from Congo into Gabon was long and difficult- mud pits and sandy tracks that seem to go on forever. I had decided to drive the whole length in a day, and I set off early on a Sunday morning without breakfast. As I passed through villages, I asked if the border was open, thinking I might have to wait until a weekday to pass through, and I kept getting the same disconcerting answer. The president of Gabon had died a few days before, and apparently, the border was closed until the elections were complete, and that would take at least two weeks. Not good. The difficulties were mounting; the road got worse, the sun was beating down, only one out of five people I spoke to thought the border was open, and my starter was only working occasionally, meaning that if I stalled in the deep sand, I was stuck there until someone offered to help me push to solid ground to roll start the bike or I took it apart, found and fixed the electrical problem. As I continued, I couldn’t get rid of the thought that at the end of the day I might be turned away at the border and have to return along this same sandpit of a road. By four in the afternoon, I was exhausted. I hadn’t had a bite to eat all day and was short on water, but still I pressed on, struggling to keep Jesse upright in the sand. On a deep uphill section, we lost momentum, and the engine stalled. The starter wouldn’t work. Jesse has a kickstart, but it’s only for decoration. It has worked before, but never when I’ve needed it, and this day was no exception; after attempting to kickstart, resting, and attempting again, I collapsed under a nearby bush, soaked with sweat and out of water. A passerby asked if I needed help, and I gladly followed him to his house. I was given water and a bench in the shade, where I laid down and rested for a while. He and two of his friends helped me push Jesse uphill through the sand, but we only made it about 20 feet and had to stop to rest. I decided to give the starter another try, and to our surprise, it worked this time, and the engine roared to life again. I only had 30 kilometers to go, and I really thought I could make it, but as it began to get dark, I was forced to stop in a village, where a policeman allowed me to sleep in his guard shack for the night. After a bowl of rice and sardines, I immediately fell asleep to the sound of rain. The light rains made the soft sand a bit firmer, and driving the last 25 kilometers the next morning was much easier than the first 150. The Congolese sand ended and the perfect Gabonese asphalt began. The border crossing was one of the easiest yet, and later that evening, I quickly found the loose wire that had caused the electronic problem. Back in business.

Changing the world, one restaurant at a time; Gabon

Changing the world, one restaurant at a time

near Bamenda, Cameroon

near Bamenda, Cameroon

journal entry- June 13

I scratch my mosquito bites nervously in this malaria infested jungle. All I can do is lie here and sweat. The hum of the road is still in my head, and it blends with the chirps, buzzes, clicks, and whirrings of the night insects. A diesel truck lurches down a nearby road, creaking under massive loads of coal, cassava, and singing Congolese women. Their songs and laughter echo strangely through the jungle, coming first from the road, then separating from the coughing diesel and moving through the forest, just beyond the sounds of the insects. For a moment I am surrounded by singing, then the moment passes and the songs are down the road with the coal and the cassava and the sputtering diesel truck.

Mandara mountains, northern Cameroon

Mandara mountains, northern Cameroon

I stuffed myself in Yaonde, Cameroon, where the street food is tasty and cheap, got a visa for Chad and arranged to meet up with Kamil and Isabella, a Polish couple who are traveling by motorcycle from Singapore to Poland via Cape Town along a very similar route as my own. They have an excellent website which they update more regularly than I do mine, so you may want to have a look:

http://www.singapore2poland.com

We met up in the north of Cameroon and continued through the Mandara mountains and across the border with Chad.

Kamil and Iza

Kamil and Iza

The roads of Gabon were cut through dense jungles of massive trees, vines, and vegetation. I stopped along the road and walked, squeezed, and hacked my way about 20 feet into the jungle and now have an even deeper respect and admiration for those early explorers of central Africa, not to mention the people who have lived and worked in these forests their entire lives. The steamy jungle gave way to more open landscapes in Cameroon and impressive mountains near the Nigerian border, covered with a soft blanket of green. As I dropped down into northern Cameroon, the air the air, though drier, heated up and the lush green countryside began to fade. The Mandara mountains are rough and rocky, and the flat landscape of Chad is transforming into desert. The transition over the last few days has been remarkable, and in a few more, Jesse will probably be up to her belly in the sands of the Tenere desert.

Koza, northern Cameroon

Koza, northern Cameroon

hungry hungry hippo

hungry hungry hippo

Monday market, Maroua, Cameroon

Monday market, Maroua, Cameroon

Our plans are to transit through a corner of Chad along a sandy road that is less traveled than the more direct route through Nigeria and continue in to Niger.

Until next time-
Marcus

side of a house, northern Cameroon

side of a house, northern Cameroon

Comments»

1. Sam Lambie - July 2, 2009

You da man Marcus, as always you have inspired me to live vicariously through you. I admire your tenacity to push through the tough and relax when it gets rough….

2. Kim Collier - July 3, 2009

You are amazing Marcus! We still love the pictures and the beautiful journal entries. My daughter Ashley graduated from high school! Stay safe and healthy.

3. sylvestre - July 3, 2009

Hi Marcus,
My name is Sylvestre. I am from Canada and a native of Senegal. I met your dad lately in Montreal. Hope your journey is going well. I have travelled a bit for my work. I have been to some of those countries you are visiting including Chad (NDjamena) where you seem to be now. If you are passing through Senegal (Dakar) I will be glad to give you my younger brother’s contact in Dakar. He will be glad to see you. See you later, Marcus. Sylvestre

4. El Rito - July 3, 2009

Marcosi,
Well, It’s been just about a year since your great escape and I’ll be tippin my 40 oz. your way homie.;) Did you know we (Mose and I) started a Marcus Best fan club on facebook? You are much loved and missed here my friend. Happy travels.
Love,
Amy

5. dennis - July 6, 2009

Hi Marcus,
great to read your messages !! How are you these days? Right now I am in Scottland with my Transalp, very interesting country, Ireland is next.
You are still invited to Lake Constance, Germany. Just give me a brief note if and when you are in Europe.

Hope you and Jesse have a great time in africa
Dennis

6. yamaha vixion - July 10, 2009

what is that..is very amazing


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