Thursday, 29 January 2009

Friday, 23 January 2009

where to start
last time i had time to write up this blog was over 2 months ago.since then, the road has been hard, harder and umentionable. southernniger is the poorest place i've ever seen. impossible climate forfood, villages that sell sweets imported from uae or somewhere, peopleliving on sugary maizy drinks. eventually made it to the dustbowlchadian frontier town of nguigmi, where i took a 35 hour 300km ride onthe roof of a 4x4 with 34 others across the burning sahara and pastcorrupt border oficials to another dustbowl called mao. from there,hitched a ride to a filhy ndjamena where i ate beautiful fish from lake chad. slowly made my way out of arabland and into the south andthe start and heart of central africa. northern CAR isn't under government control, and cycling across the border, i was soon stoppedby ganja smoking rebels, armed to the teeth with ak47s, grenades andbazukas. thankfully, at the time there was a dialogue ongoing inbangui and all rebel groups were under instruction to be calm, and allthe group that stopped me wanted to do was verfy that i was a tourist,and not a mercenary. the first 100 or so kilometres of CAR was simplyscorched, deserted villages. after that, life resumed, and with it averitable garden of eden - mango trees lining every village, beautifulbananas, pineapples, and best of all - papayas everywhere. completelyself sufficent indpendent villages. no cars, no public transport, acyclists dream. unfortunately, the towns weren't as laid back as "enbrousse" and with government control came endless bullshit via a mixture of gendarmerie, immigration and commissariat demands for cash.exhausting is the most polite way to describe these numerousencounters. reach bangui and take a piroque into the big bad congo.arrive at zongo, congo at 10am, finish with immigration at 4pm, cycle10km and m mobbed by over 50 dancing, singing, everyone to a man Crazycongolese. pedal on and camp in the forest, where as i sleep, termitesannihilate the floor of my tent. wake up and want to scream. continueon one of the most beautiful, deserted, atrocious roads to the porttown of akula. at this stage, have taken to telling the variousofficials that my profession is pasteur - the only way their multiplerequests for cash recedes. find a barge that doubles as a petit march├ęthat is happy to take me to kinshasa. 10 days on the congo river...incredible forest either side, hard to put into words. incredibleatmosphere on deck, people catching and eating crocdile, turtles andmonkeys! all very normal behaviour here. at kinshasa, sleep for aweek. cross to the less mental bazzaville, and hit another contenderfor the worst road in africa; rebel controlled pull. 550km, guns,chinese construction workers, potholes the size of garages later makeit to the ocean at pointe noire. continue up the coast to a nationalpark and the gabon border. always on the verge of collapse. people incredible at every turn
where to start
last time i had time to write up this blog was over 2 months ago.since then, the road has been hard, harder and umentionable. southernniger is the poorest place i've ever seen. impossible climate forfood, villages that sell sweets imported from uae or somewhere, peopleliving on sugary maizy drinks. eventually made it to the dustbowlchadian frontier town of nguigmi, where i took a 35 hour 300km ride onthe roof of a 4x4 with 34 others across the burning sahara and pastcorrupt border oficials to another dustbowl called mao. from there,hitched a ride to a filhy ndjamena where i ate beautiful fish from lake chad. slowly made my way out of arabland and into the south andthe start and heart of central africa. northern CAR isn't under government control, and cycling across the border, i was soon stoppedby ganja smoking rebels, armed to the teeth with ak47s, grenades andbazukas. thankfully, at the time there was a dialogue ongoing inbangui and all rebel groups were under instruction to be calm, and allthe group that stopped me wanted to do was verfy that i was a tourist,and not a mercenary. the first 100 or so kilometres of CAR was simplyscorched, deserted villages. after that, life resumed, and with it averitable garden of eden - mango trees lining every village, beautifulbananas, pineapples, and best of all - papayas everywhere. completelyself sufficent indpendent villages. no cars, no public transport, acyclists dream. unfortunately, the towns weren't as laid back as "enbrousse" and with government control came endless bullshit via a mixture of gendarmerie, immigration and commissariat demands for cash.exhausting is the most polite way to describe these numerousencounters. reach bangui and take a piroque into the big bad congo.arrive at zongo, congo at 10am, finish with immigration at 4pm, cycle10km and m mobbed by over 50 dancing, singing, everyone to a man Crazycongolese. pedal on and camp in the forest, where as i sleep, termitesannihilate the floor of my tent. wake up and want to scream. continueon one of the most beautiful, deserted, atrocious roads to the porttown of akula. at this stage, have taken to telling the variousofficials that my profession is pasteur - the only way their multiplerequests for cash recedes. find a barge that doubles as a petit march├ęthat is happy to take me to kinshasa. 10 days on the congo river...incredible forest either side, hard to put into words. incredibleatmosphere on deck, people catching and eating crocdile, turtles andmonkeys! all very normal behaviour here. at kinshasa, sleep for aweek. cross to the less mental bazzaville, and hit another contenderfor the worst road in africa; rebel controlled pull. 550km, guns,chinese construction workers, potholes the size of garages later makeit to the ocean at pointe noire. continue up the coast to a nationalpark and the gabon border. always on the verge of collapse. people incredible at every turn

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

tangiers to niamey in 80 days

not quite a trip around the globe, but a trip all the same. the lasttime i updated this blog,i had made it to bamako, on the banks of the incredible niger river.crossing the pont d'oie,i took one look at my feet and realised that biking to burkina fasowasn't going to start thatday - in the space of a couple of hours, both feet had ballooned intothe size of watermelon. after20 stubborn kilometres, dismounted in the southern suburb of senou.after finding a pharmacy, someantibiotics and a place to camp (the mayor's 'salle d'entertainment'),simply stopped and let timedo its thing. five days later, and with feet that were recognisable,scrapped the plan to bike toburkina faso, and instead hitchhiked into a different world. burkinafaso ranks as the 3rd poorestcountry in the world, but nowhere do you read that its people are thehappiest! biking from the fabulouslynamed capital, ouagadougou, to the niger border, it was impossible notto smile the whole way. infected bythis enthusiasm, spent an incredible week camping 'en brousse', starlittered sky that blows me away everytime. have abandoned cooking, as it is far cheaper to buy street foodoff some incredibly tough women...a plate of rice costs between 5 and 15 cent, and tastes better thananything dublin has to offer.
from the 3rd poorest country into the 1st, niger and its capital,niamey. with the intention of only stayingin niamey one or two nights, this 'plan' has been truly scuppered bythe chad visa application. according to theweb, getting a chad visa in niamey should take one day. arriving atthe embassy, now nearly two weeks ago was like stepping into a kafkanovel. scary, confusing, and as of now, with no end in sight.
sometimes being forced to stop is a good thing. have found freecamping with jesus - some friendly peopleunderstood the plight, and 'in the name of our good lord', have agreedto help out. the centre of town isdominated by two markets, the petit and grand, where you can buyanything. here's a diary entry from sunday 9/11/08:
another morning in niamey, who knows how many more? the evening moonis filling out with every passing day. alot, alot of mosquitos in thistown. breakfast and plantain by the petit marche. illegal tradersbustle by the taxirank. the very poor, eyes fixed to the ground search for fallennutrients. return to the plateau, where peopletake fish or meat with their daily dose of rice or haricots. moneygramand western union hoardings are morefrequent than roadsigns. the sweet bread has to be scrutinized for flyfragments. behind the grand marche, menwork like egyptian donkeys - is like the set of spartacus, albeit moreblack than white. chinese motorbikeseverywhere, toyota starlet taxis imported from switzerland, ! , redwhite and black cornmeal dough called To.pots made from pumpkins. boys pulling gallons and gallons of yellowcoloured water tanks. disabled everywhere.polio rampant. boys and bigboys play fighting on every corner.beautiful, smiling children. western supermarketsfor the expats who buy fruit that's available outside fresh for atenth of the price. ngo's everywhere. confused over languages: djerma,hausa and french all cobbled together, leaving me lost; french is hardenough. grandchildren leading the dignified and frail, often blind.open butchery and headless chicken dancing. distant drums as the pinksky gives way to darkness. hello tent. the homeless look for shelterin their dreams.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

where to begin

firstly sorry about the huge delay.

have just made it to bamako from dakar in a bus journey of 1500km that remarkably took 60 hours. the less said about that the better.

made it thru beautiful, gapingly hot mauritania... sand dunes that look like fluffy melting ice cream - like a dream. people however were all on edge - 2 weeks earlier 13 soldiers were found beheaded in the desert: different rumours, some say al qaeda, others that the army was taking too much of an interest in the illicit desert drug trade. who knows.

hitched for free to the senegal border, which was negotiated somehow without paying the demanded bribes, and into a world of green. cycled from rosso to dakar in about a week - some crazy nights - stayed in a village chief's house - he of 4 wives and 50 children: bizarre. another night on the banks of the senegal river. beautiful.

from dakar, a sprawling, if charming mess hae made it to bamako. going to bike it to burkina faso ... though have been warned that there are alot of "animaux sauvage" en route, so camping might need to be aborted.

hopefully update from WAGA::::

Thursday, 25 September 2008

dakhla

sorry for the absence of updates. ive been literally in the middle of nowhere. from essaioura biked 12 days straight to a little town called Daoura > 1 shop, a few onions and plenty of dates. i packed my bags with enough food for 3 days, and just went into the silence of the sahara.

so so quiet and peaceful. was even able to, without the weight of the bags, do some off road biking in the sand dunes in the morning and at sunset. really incredible days.

since laayoune, ive been hitching and cycling. now in dakhla. next step is mauritania...

tip toe ing to black africa ///

Friday, 12 September 2008

difference between europeans and africans

for the past few weeks i've slept in people's fields. people have brought me food and water nearly everyday. not once as anyone asked me to leave; to give them money.

in europe, if an arab guy camped in someone's garden, the curtains would be drawn and te police called.

about to enter western sahara ^^ excited and nervous...