#21 – The last few days in West Africa
I order a spaghetti with one egg in the early morning. The sun is up already, letting me sweat and searching for a shadow. The heat is playing with my appetite, as I can’t finish the meal. Back on the bike, it sometimes feel as if the heat becomes more bearable due to a slight breeze.
I march through a group of man, they all look to me and point towards a desk with a man behind. I’m confused, but every passing second I read new information from the situation. On my left hand I see a sleeping officer, and on my right hand there is an officer who asks for my passport. After a few minutes he stamped my passport and let me into Togo.
Back in the country where they confiscated my drone, I started to realize that today would be my last real cycling day in West Africa. In Lome, the capital of Togo, I have to wait for a week to catch the plane to Sao Tome and Principe. I arrived at a hotel who gave me a room and a delicious rice meal with fresh tilapia, in exchange for some drone footage.
Without saying too much, they served coffee, a fresh pineapple juice, a baguette with a ham and cheese omelette. The manager of the hotel told me I could order anything I want, without paying anything. During the day I went from swimming in the blue pool, to working on my laptop, to make footage with my drone, to ordering delicious food.
Living a life like this isn’t very difficult. It might even become boring. Living this life the one day, and the complete opposite the following day, might work mind blowing in the end, and I’m not sure if I will be able to handle it. Almost every aspect of today is a negative of the cycling day. From the searh of average paid food to finding a quiet place to sit.
While zigzagging through the chaotic streets of Lome, I remembered that once I was afraid of being in a rollercoaster. I stopped being afraid untill I started to realize that the worst thing that can happen, will not happen. When I took a motor taxi today, these same feelings showed up, but now with the realisation that the worst thing that can happen, can happen. I stretched my arm in front of him and made a signal to slow down a bit.
From one post office, we were sent to the other one, and another one. I was hoping to collect the airbed that was sent to Lome, at the post office. “You have to come back later, there is no connection with the system” I was told by a lady behind a thick layer of glass. “Come back later” she added. The next task was to extend my Togolese visa. Then I had to visit the airline and ask about the procedure of bringing a bicycle in the airplane.
“The best option for you, will be to pay 200$”, was the conclusion of the friendly man from the airline. Not very satisfied I left his office and I have to think about the options I have. Back to the post office, I learned that they were just closing down as we arrived. Too bad, but as always there will be a new day tomorrow.
“Executing a travel plan and seeing it working out well”, the Australian backpacker who sleeps next to me in the hotel said. “That’s really satisfying”, he added in the conversation we had about how we like travelling around in Africa.
And I feel the same way. This aspect of the journey is hidden on the backside of the information I share with you. But seeing the results of doing research and making itineraries can be as pleasing as visiting interesting places and meeting people.
I have to admit that I was getting a little stressed about not receiving my package on time, but when a man came around the corner with my package in his hands, a big smile arrived under my nose. And after playing a little mind game with the customs they didn’t even charge me money.
Like the past few days, today I’m staying at a luxurious hotel at the relaxing beach of Lome. Sipping away cold drinks, while a just enough strong wind cools down the sweat on my forehead. Suddenly I realized that today was my last full day in West Africa.
West Africa. I’m not sure yet, but from the roughly five years that I will be conquering the world by bike, I think that this part will turn out to be the most struggling one. And at the same beach as I’m chilling, a huge slump is located just a few metres further ahead.
People call me courageous, have respect for what I’m doing and find it interesting what I experience. Just imagine how that perspective reflects on the 400 million West African souls that live in these – or worse – circumstances every day.