Date: March 1998
Intermezzo - December 1997
Shipping our sidecar from Florida to Africa seemed a very difficult
and expensive job, while going back to Europe was cheap and a piece-of-cake
to organise. We used HUAL's RoRo-service, which turned out to be very
satisfactory and not too expensive. Upon arrival in Amsterdam a special
spot in a workplace was cleared and our dear sidecar pushed inside to
keep her away from the rain that was falling.
We had decided to ride down to Morocco and wanted to leave as soon as
possible, using the time we were waiting for our sidecar to arrive to
try to get support and publicity. OAL (East Atlantic Line (Rotterdam)
then invited us to join one of their freightliners that was due to head
from Rotterdam to Guinee Bissau in West-Africa (thanx also to Genchart
shipping agency) and our next adventure was soon to start.
Lieve vrienden (Dutch),
So many things have happened after we left Rotterdam by freightliner
that we have to be kind of brief in our descriptions.
The first part of our sea-journey we pass in between two storms North
and West of us. The sea is very rough (nobody can go outside as waves
are raging over the ship's deck and nature puts us to the test. Captain
Marco is never troubled though and on we go through the Gulf of Biscay.
We are glad that our sidecar is properly strapped down on the deck. We
sprayed the engine with grease and covered the sidecar with a tarp so
we did not have to worry that the salty water would harm her.
Upon reaching the coast of Africa the weather changes dramatically in
a positive way. We enjoy a couple of lovely days and one day especially,
when over 50 dolphins play around the ship. It's a beautiful sight we
will cherish the rest of our life.
In fact, while the huge engines in the machine room worked hard and
steadily, we feel like becoming part of the ship and her crew. Rob used
to sail the European rivers as well as on sea-freighters and tells me
romantic but harsh stories about those times and it all ads to the feeling
of being a traveller, sailing on a freighter from Rotterdam to Guinee
Bissau in West Africa.
Riding in Africa is not very hard. The roads are pretty good but the
mayor problem is the police and the customs. They try to get money from
you for almost anything and in Guinee-Conakry Dafne was arrested, being
accused of hitting a custom officer (she still wants to go back to really
do it) who was playing a game with our papers. After two days we where
free again but it has cost us almost US$200.
At another police check post they first tried to confiscate our camera
and then made our passports disappear, which we finally could buy back
for US$20,- per passport. The further south we went the more aggressive
the people became in trying to sell you anything or push themselves as
being your guide on the market. In Mali (Bamako) we finally ended up in
a couple of fights to get them off our backs. It is all very exciting
and a very good exercise for the fists but you can imagine that we did
not enjoy being engaged in things like this at all.
Wildlife is almost non-existing in West Africa but the people (woman)
are so colourful that it is a pleasure to see them walking around. Most
of the men are looking like hobo's and behave very badly. In Senegal we
were invited by a Moslem man to meet his family and that was a very special
day. A good Moslem prays 5 times a day and goes to a Mosque to do so.
His wife and the daughters stay at home to do their prayers and so we
(for the first time) witnessed the wife of our Moslem-host in her house
to do her praying.
Riding around in Islamic countries is for Dafne not always easy. Some
Moslem men refuse to shake her hand because they are not allowed to touch
married women. But there are also Moslem man who don't care at all and
would like to touch her everywhere, after they undressed her with their
To be able to spend some time without spectators we camp a lot in the
bush, which is very safe and quiet. After a day on the road these are
the best moments, because every time we stop we are surrounded by at least
50 kids who are asking for money or presents and grown ups that all have
a story about their dreams which we should finance. So to ride is actually
often more relaxing than to rest, unless you make yourself invisible.
We are now in Bamako-Mali, where we visited the Foster Child of one
of the newspapers we write for. The Foster Parents Plan organisation (or
Plan International) here took us along many of their projects and we were
welcomed in the Amadou's village.
First we are spoken to in the native language Banbara, by the head of
the village. The old man can not speak directly to us; he speaks to the
second man in charge, who answers every sentence with an agreeable "yeeh".
Then the second man repeats the message to the third man, who speaks to
the fourth etc., who translates the message into French. Of course our
answers go the same way back.