This is part of the Seventh section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Cameroon
8/1/01 Easy out of Cameroon but we were required to see 12 different officials before we had gone more than two km in Nigeria. We lost track of who was who as we were directed to the next desk for passport or papers, immigration, health, plant and food, and an obnoxious customs man who wanted us to empty everything from the motorcycle to his office because he was too lazy to check the gear on the bike just ten metres away. Luckily soon after the border all officials disappeared and we had a pleasant ride without any more for the 280 km to Wukari, changing money in the markets and having a lunchtime discussion with locals in this English speaking country along the way. An evening stroll around the markets revealed we have left Central Africa for the West with all the trimmings of an Arab society. Spices, different animal parts, unknown vegetables and very active. We didn't see a bar nor were we accosted by any drunks. However we expect to be awoken by the early morning call to prayer from a nearby Mosque.
9/1/01 English, sweet English. We hadn't realized how we had missed speaking it the last two months. To be surrounded by a large group at a roadside stop and understand their questions and able to explain our trip, ask them directions etc is a great release. Still it is difficult to get information on the road conditions ahead. They either don't know, tell you the road is good as it's the best in the area or they don't want to admit they have bad roads. If they have travelled they say it's bad knowing of better roads elsewhere. Does it have potholes is irrelevant as all roads have some, but how many. Road conditions are very important in judging what route and particularly how long to the next town for accommodation. A 200 km stretch can take two hours or six hours. Today we travelled 550 km, all with some potholes, some totally disintegrated, usually because the last upgrade hadn't been finished leaving many sections without the final layers asphalt. The same was the situation with the power lines paralleling the road. Now with broken wires and collapsing concrete poles, they had never carried electricity as the job was never completed. The landscape getting drier and drier as we headed north and the people poorer and poorer. Everywhere round mud brick grass roofed huts. Crops of sorghum, maize and cassava recently harvested. Cattle consuming the stalks of last seasons crop and drinking the rapidly depleting water holes as the dry season settles in. Despite past plumbing in the town, water is now drawn from wells in buckets and carried to our hotel room. Stayed in Mubi near the Cameroon border.
10/1/01 Petrol has been in short supply in Nigeria for a couple of years despite the country being the world's sixth largest supplier of crude oil. The official price available at one of the few remaining operable petrol stations at just half to a third the price of the well established black market price of $US0.40 to $US0.60 a litre sold from plastic containers roadside. Obviously someone is making a killing on keeping the supply short and the queues long at any petrol pump. After over 1000 km in Nigeria and we have not been stopped by any road blocks, just receiving a friendly wave and smiles while other motorists are checked. This is a complete surprise to reports of harassment and we wonder if it is due to our headlight being on as only official convoys, of which we have seen two, travel with their lights on. The indestructible Peugeot 504 is making its reappearance as a people mover with its extra row of seats. Not seen by us since Egypt and Morocco but rumoured to be in most of West Africa. A classic of African rough roads they seem to be able to withstand its abuses. Crossed back into Cameroon at Mora with the officials as usual trying to create rather than solve any problems. Whether bored, trying to assert authority, get one up on the colonials or create a reason for a bribe doesn't matter, its all as annoying.
11/1/01 After a few days of long travel rested up in Mora,
and while listening to the BBC heard of a mob who ransacked bars, hotels
and brothels in Maiduguri in Nigeria about 150 km away. Apparently the total
eclipse of the moon last night was seen as a result of the debauchery of the
city so the Muslim youths went on a rampage. They must have been right as
the moon reappeared a couple of hours later after their rampage had removed
the sins. This seems more like a story from biblical times than the 21st century.
Seems totally incomprehensible to those in the west. But as we travel in
this area we more accept the desire to dramatize the ordinary and to believe
the impossible as life here has little diversion from tedium, and education
is little more than manipulation and suppression.
Move with us to Chad , or
go to our next visit to Nigeria .
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,