The New Year was seen in, in a slightly drunken state at a house party in Billericay and now draws to a close with me in Benghazi, Libya surrounded by mad drivers and everyone shouting Arabic to each other. Doesn’t mean a thing to me however with a bit of arm waving its surprisingly how well you can get your point across. Which is good as everything here is in Arabic and I have managed to agree transit across the country without a guide sitting on my shoulder. A little bit illegal I understand, but if you don’t tell anyone things should be alright. Does make for interesting navigation as all road signs and everything is in Arabic. So good map reading, a log of mileage and knowing what direction you’re travelling in all makes life a little easier. It is only desert anyway!
After a hectic start to the year trying to cram as much as possible in to two weeks I was off to France. Well in fact the first day was a massive; wait for it….12 miles to Billericay. Then on a cold Sunday morning the adventure starts, 2nd day 338 miles a bit more like how overland travel should be.
4 days later and it’s Au revoir to France and Europe with only 22 hours to Africa!
By total chance meeting on the ferry I found myself in the company of someone whom I can only explain at the time as a successful business man from Tunisia whom seemed to have a bit of influence with the captain. As soon after boarding all the restaurants were closed yet we still managed to get food and drinks when all around looked on confused as to quite how. Later this extended to the captain allowing me access to the lower deck to retrieve my documents for vehicle registration. On arrival to Tunis this hospitality extended to being invited around to his house the following day to meet his family and have lunch, which all made the introduction to Africa all that much easier. However this didn’t stop someone’s idle hands from having a go at the bike later on that evening, trying to steal the jerry cans and walking off with the container that the engine oil was in. So the highs of making new friends and vandalism to the bike all in the first day!
After the experiences of Tunis it was time to head south, on route I found this Obi-Wan look-a-like. Here we have two choices, excluding the old man and I know which one I would take.
Later on riding across the salt lake Chott el-jerid, a strange expanse of formed salt surrounded by mountains as if the surface was layered with snow in +20deg heat.
Next into Libya which on the face of it has worked out pretty expensive when factoring in all the bureaucratic costs involved in the transit. All to see some Roman ruins and ride across what seems at times a never ending desert with a very long straight road that goes on and on and…….you get the picture. No hang on there’s a bend ahead, just got to work out what that driver coming towards me is going to do first. There are no rules to the road here; it’s everyone for themselves, and flat out at that! I think that they like the idea of the bike what with all the arms waving out of windows. However when they are coming towards you head lights flashing, horns going and hazard lights on ON the same side of the road I always seem a little preoccupied to notice what they do as they pass by. Tripoli was an interesting experience, I think that I must have gone unnoticed as it’s probably best described as driving in the centre of London with no speed limit and not a care to what anyone else is doing. The trip almost came to an end right there as I rounded a corner to find a capping hole in the middle of the road where a manhole cover should have been and cars either side of me. Shit!! I thought. Got around that one, just.
Posted by Andrew Wells at January 31, 2007 07:31 PM GMT