Saturday, December 23, 2006

From the Jungle to the Desert

The ride up to Mali was once again very beautiful with a few interesting things along the way to remind us "This is Africa'' First was the border of Sierra Leone and Guinea. To get there involved going on one of the worst roads yet wich reduced to a mear walking path at times, cars would never get through, many water crossings as it wound through the jungle, although the road was hard work it was amzing to ride trhough the north of Sierra Leone. But once at the border our first problem, got our passports stamped out and I asked about our Carnets for the bikes to be stamped which has to be done and the reply was that its back, two towns back!! Nothing could be done but to take all the panniers off and I would shot back quickly and get the stamp and signature and be back in an hour or so, no problems....but then there was a Sierra Leonian soilder wanting a lift, hell I lost the luggage but gained a 70 kg soildier who also wanted to carry a chicken with us, I explained loose the chicken mate we are not going to be going slow, off we went leaving Amy to amuse the immigration officers for awhile. It was more than the 21 miles the told me, it was 42, droped my soildeir off and got the stamps then to ride back to the border, was a load of
fun on an empty bike flying through the jungles of such a place until I hit a small bridge to fast and slinging me accross into the path of some massive pot holes, managing to stay aboard I dont know how but the bike did not fare to well, smashing my centre stand, with nothing I could do so it rattled the remaining 10 miles, fix it later.
Finally three and a half hours on I rejoined Amy, fixed the centre stand and into back Mali we road. Road north and camped a couple of nights in the bush and on our last day we rounded a corner and there dragging trees onto the road where three soilders forming a road bloke and one clutching an AK 47, hell whats this, with big smiles and hand shakes from us and our best french hellos they turned out to be ok and made a gap and let us through, but for a moment my heart was in my mouth, you just never know what to expect out here.

Highway number 1, Seirra Leone.

Then into Mali with the green jungles far behind us it is hot and dry again, closer to the Sahara. So for Xmas we epect to be on our way to Timbuctoo camped somewhere in the bush, I guess no roast turkey for us, tuna and pasta I suppose.
My Soldier passanger, Seirra Leone

Camp, Guniea.
Village girl, Guniea.

Niger River, Mali.

The road to Bamako, Mali.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sierra Leone

After a few more days resting Amy's ankle in concerning also we arranged our visas for Mali and Sierra Leone. Plus because of our decision to go to Sierra Leone it meant getting a double entry visa back to Guinea which meant a visit to the Guinean Ministry of Interior. Once we found it we of special interest to a few official looking policeman or our bikes more so than us, they gestured to follow them, we walked to a shed and they opened the doors presenting to us the whole fleet of BMW's used to escort the president.......By the amount of dust on them I don't think the president gets out much!!

Sierra Leone here we come

After completing our business we headed for the border, it was getting late by the time we reached it but found nowhere to camp and decided to get through the border and camp out the other side. Not that simple these formalities can take a long time in Africa, eventually we made it through without to many questions...We were in SIERRA LEONE!! Almost dark we managed to find a camp done a small little track in the jungle just beyond the frontier, both wondering about every little noise we heard from the darkness...Well we did not no what to expect!

Wheres Robbo?? They love crowding!! My bike is in there somewhere

We rode off very early the next morning on your typical rough dirt road but then we reached a highway as good as a German autobarn, once I hit 100km/hr I thought the mother ship was about to launch! Just out of the capital Freetown we came to a check point, which was a friendly experience, so friendly infact they fetched us some Poyo(palm wine) to taste...The cops encouraging drink driving, what a place. We are quite supprised with the place, it is very beautiful and the physical emotional scares of a war that ravaged the country for so long and only just ending are few to be seen all over.

The slums of Freetown

They carry everything on their heads, kids with stacks of coal

A camillian on the road

From here we are heading back north to Guinea then onto Mali where we expect to spend Xmas and a journey back into the desert for a week or so to Timbuctoo.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hit and Run

What a horrible horrible day, firstly our camp the night before turned out to be only metres from a train line as the combination of the tall grass and the sun hanging low in the sky we did not notice and at about midnight we thought there was literally a train coming through our tent!! This was only the beginning oh a really shit day. The ride into Conakry was beautiful through the mountainous jungle but then the bottle neck of a penninsular city began funneling every man, dog, cow, bloody you name it it was there somewhere into one point. We dodged in and out of cars, the going was frantic, then I haerd a bang, glancing in my mirror Amy was right there...ok all is good but then I heard her horn tooting frantically, I turned around to see her slowing and her face grimacing through the visor of her helmet, something was wrong; She managed to bring the Baja to a halt and I looked for a spot to park, a masive drain to my left and the busy road to my right I just pulled up and left my bike running on the side of the road as I ran back to her.

She was in pain and I noticed her pannier on the right side on an unusual angle and the left one was actually nowhere to be seen. Whats wrong I asked? A car just hit me....shit I said outloud.... I think I broke my ankle was the reply....OK I said just sit still? she was still pertched on her bike, cars all around and a big fat policeman was suddenly there wanting to help, I told him slow down, she is hurt help lift her from the bike. I then noticed as I looked up the car behind had something wedged under it, holy shit it was her missing pannier, I picked Amy up and lifted her accross the drian to the side and layed her down on the ground, by this time a crowed had formed and more police lingured, my bike still running I run back to it and shut it down, at the same time trying to tell the fat policeman not to touch her foot. Running back to Amy I saw a man dislodging her pannier with great force and then throw it in the bushes, bloody hell all I wanted to do was help Amy but I had to control the circus around me. Stuff the pannier, I made her comfy and loosened her laces, together we removed her shoe and sock, it was bruised, the ankle was fine but the side of her foot back from the little toe was turning black. We are no doctors but we could tell it was not broken after a little prodding and pushing, it seemed not as bad as we first thought. More police and a crowd of about 50 people around. Police wanted to know what happened but we got no number plate, they speed off!! Then another man arrived by my side with the missing pannier in the bush, I thanked him. I inspected it, was a mess to say the least.

The spot it happaned and the ditch on the right

So on with her shoe, loaded the mothership with her panniers and set off into town, Amy was lucky, cant beleive how tough she is.

And then to top it off once we arrived into Conakry at the catholic mission where we were going to stay a policeman on a little scooter trailed us in ranting and raving about some wrong turn we did, poor bugger he did not realize the mood I was in...I let him have it, tell him not to f&#k with me as I have had a very very bad day explaining what just happened.....I would have been a sight, covered in red dust and dripping with sweat, I threw the panniers on the ground and showed him the result....he quietly asked for our papers, gave them back hoped on his piss ant scooter and slowly dissappeared.

The pannier all patched up!

A day on and some ice Amys foot is not too bad at all but a good bruise!

Things that go BOOM!!


After a relaxing day in sleepy Bissau at Steves and Cassnadras it was time to go but before we said our farewells we called into see Steve at the demolition range as it was in the direction we were headed. Steve and Cassandra have been out in Guinea Biassua for about six months looking for, digging up and destroying anything from mines, mortars to massive war heads, which there seems to be an abudance in this country from the many conflicts......guess its one way to get your kicks. Steve showed us around walking the path to the range stepping over the odd mortar here and there, ones yet to be distroyed.

mortars and war heads

Placing the war head

We met the local crew they are training up to do the job for years to come and where fortunate enough to watch them prepare two demolitions, the sight actually looked like a scene from an old war movie, from the several demolitions a day. They stacked in a huge hole about a dozen mortars, a few other odds and sods followed by a huge war head about a metre long ontop, then added the explosive, which was then all covered in sand bags to direct the explosion down, this was our queue to retreat back to the road a kilometre back where it was safe, centries where sent out to stop traffic and then we waited.................KABOOOOM, bloody hell it went off! It took about 10 seconds for Amy's feet to come back to earth and a few more for her heart to continue beating! That was one and about half an hour later the second. Once the all clear was given into the demolition site Steve took us....what a mess, shreaded sand bags in tree tops and nothing left of the ordanace, mission accomplished.

I got the good job.....putting in the fuse!!!

It was late in the afternoon by time we set off again so up the road we went and ended up camping in a village where we asked the cheif if it was ok to pitch the tent, no problems he said and directed us to a patch of dirt to set things up. We had about 50 people come and errect our dome tent, all amazed as it took shape. They speak Portugesse in Guinea Bissau so that night we sat around the camp fire entertainting the 20 or so kids making we could come up with but sure amused them.

Early morning in the village, crushing maze

Monday, December 04, 2006

Guinea Bissau

Guinea Bissau is a gem, its lush and green and the jungle is thick, there is hardly a car on the road which are also in a great state of repair and the people do not hassle us.

Guinea Bissua

Out here you dont have to look for adventure it comes to you, we took the only road to the coast, Verala which was 50 k's of dirt road and since it is at the end of the rainy season the road was quite bad. We came to a bridge, well what was left of a bridge with the locals slowly trying to fix it. Upon a closer look there was a huge yellow thing in the water, it was a truck!! For 5 months the bridge had been broken after the driver of the truck attempted a crossing at night and found himself swiming for his life, so what to do for us, turn around and give it a miss?? nope the man told us in half an hour it will be ready, where we going to witness a miracle because this bridge would not be ready in a month of Sundays! But sure enough after some deliberate placing of a few planks a makeshift path to push our bikes accross formed. We unloaded the bikes completely and with the help of all our new found friends we pushed Amy's bike over first no problems but then it was time for the mothership to take the journey, with a few tense moments and my heart in my throat we all managed to get it accross, what a releif.

The yellow thing on the right is the truck/workstand!

And of course been the only road in and out ment all haad to be repeated on our return a few days later but once again they were chuffed to see us and honoured to help asking for nothing in return, we gave them some fruit we had picked and a few bottles of water from a well, made there day.

Steady she goes lads this is the mothership remember

A dusty village waiting for a ferry

We have met up with some friends of a friend, Steve(Brit) and Casandra(Aussie) living here in the Capital Bissau clearing landmines around the country and have generously given us there lounge room and most importantly a garage for the trusty steeds, spoilt. Its nice to relax in a house and not have to talk pigeon English and dream about vegemite, chicken parmy's at the pub, cherry ripes.........and again tuna pasta for dinner, my favourite!

One of these is an African chose which one!

Friday, December 01, 2006

To Hell and Back in The Gambia

We arrived into The Gambia where the people once again spoke English, the first time since leaving the UK. WE got comfortable at the Camp ground and went to bed quite relaxed.

10pm something was wrong I was freezing cold and it was far from a cold night, shivering and sweating! Amy asked the night watchmen where the nearest hospital was, it was not far but no taxis at this hour and me been the strongest person in the world decided to see how I would feel in the morning! Morning came with no sleep and deffinately no releif from what ever was inside my body so of to hospital it was. Upon arriving to the dust bowl of a hospital and walking in with old needle packets on the floor and syringes everywhere, they tested for Malaria but it came up negetive, I was getting worse as a failed attempt to get to the toilet in time followed the test, hmm this is shit I thought.

Maternity ward Banjul!!!

So hey decided to treat me for Malaria anyway telling Amy to go buy me Fanta, jesus why did not we think of this cure??? But then followed some pills and an injection in the rear end(we had all our own needles), a few hours passed as I lay on a bed in a room filled with ladies and their screaming babies, I was in a maternity ward! Then came the next symptom, vomiting, once I did that Amy had had enough and asked to get me to a bigger hospital, they aggreed and got the ambulance ready, I hobbled out to it and upon seeing the ambulance I managed a small smile, it was a Toyota Landcruiser Troop carrier, I new this baby would not let me down. The ride into Banjul saw me fly of the stretcher by a foot about a dozen times, they roads are the worst I have felt in Africa! And all for the cost of some fuel, great.

mmm...think I will wait hey!!!

We arrived at the main hospital and the conditions were not much better but the doc did another proper Malaria test and once again negetive but the test showed my blood was fighting something bad, again they decided to treat for Malaria, this tim giving me a drip to be taken over 4 hours, I lay there all afternoon til 7, my whole body was paining, one stage attempting to go to the loo but that alone nearly made me vomit, it was disgusting, once the drip had ran out they promptly removed the canular and told me to go home, I stood up feeling like hell walked to the ambulance and proceeded to vommit everywhere at the hospital entrance, whislt doing so I noticed a poor frog was getting showered by my aim........cant remeber eating him!!!

Another show ride home in the back of the Toyota ambulance troopy and the day was over and I actually started to feel better.

The next day I was almost 80% so I dont think it was Malaria but what ever it was I dont want it again!

We hung about The Gambia for a few days rest and getting a few more Visas and have now arrived back into Senegal. This afternoon we will cross into Guinea Bissau where we have heard of a nice beach, so once again we will be forced to relax and have more fun, tough life but someone has to do it hey.