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Saturday, November 2, 2019

BACK TO ACCRA, BEFORE TOGO & BENIN


What is it about best laid plans? We are heading to Togo when there is another loud bang – another tyre has blown. We cannot ignore 2 in a row. We have no choice but to turn around and return to Accra. The other 2 could blow at any stage. This area in Ghana is flat & a tad uninteresting. We take it slowly – looking out for the crash that closed the road to find that it was actually a protest and tyres had been lit at intervals, in protest (we assume) the speeds driven through the village. They are installing heaps of nasty road bumps.

Anyway, we finally make it back to our Next-Door Beach Resort to spend the next 2 nights. A much busier place in the weekend.  On Sunday we head to Hope City Church Accra (tied up to our C3 Church at home) and have a lovely morning. The singing is out of this world. Music drips from their pores! And it is wonderful to meet so many friendly people.  In the afternoon we enjoy chatting, accompanied by the mellow sound of Ghanaian music.

So, on Monday morning we beard the lion’s den. Our tyres are definitely faulty as they are 10 years old & we find out they had been purchased at the black market. After a lot of persuasion on Johns part and practically a day in the workshop we leave with 4 new tyres (albeit slightly smaller) and 4 spares.  So, it really is time to hit the road. We head back to the motorway/ring road only to drive through lashing torrents of rain, then gridlock. Two lanes become 4 and mini buses keep changing lanes. The motorway is flooded, not just with water but piles of debris! Hours later we reach Christies Guesthouse – ready to tackle the border tomorrow. There John meets a guy who suggest a more northern border at Dzodze/Noepe– so we follow his suggestion, and boy is it easy. Ghana & Togo sit side by side in one office. We are stamped out with our Aussie passports, and get a visa for Togo in our Kiwi passports.

We head on to Lome on lovely smooth roads with 100’s of motorbikes. First stop is the Gabon Embassy where we get our visas – issued within a few hours. Then out to Coco Beach for the night. Here we catch up with Verena & Wolfi (they are on our travellers WhatsApp) – an Austrian couple travelling in their 4x4 truck. It is lovely spending the evening & next morning chatting with them. They are waiting on their Nigerian visas, We head off to our next border (I know, all we seem to be doing is getting visas and crossing borders!) This time Benin. Another easy border. It is supposed to be the end of the rainy season, but many of the towns are flooded. We stop at one of the many waterways along this coast to watch the men throwing nets. Then on to Cotonou and a crazy detour down a sand track, that has to be aborted due to low power lines. We finally wind through the city and find our beach side spot at Paradis du Soleil owned by Blackie. Magic sunset after another long day.

Today it is time for us to try to get our last 2 visas. Failure with both unfortunately. DRC a definite NO, and Cameroon will take 5 days fast-tracked as they are closed for the next 3 days- so we will not wait. But before we leave Benin, we decide to be tourists and visit the stilt village on the huge lake north of Cotonou. Only way in is by boat. With all the flooding the stilts are under water making the village look as if it is floating. A fun morning before hitting the road. We decide to tackle the “easy” border to Nigeria north of Porto Novo today. Back to Cotonou and north to the once gracious city of Porto Novo (now more a slum). This is when the day takes a turn for the worse. We turn to follow the truck route. All looks great to start with, until the roadworks. We trail along beside the new road, through countless potholes and mud. Eventually turn to head to our border to find our road peters out completely. A friendly local takes us to the correct road. Well not really a road – a mudy, potholed track that may have been sealed many years ago. Lots of poor villages with so many children surging out of the schools. These countries have so many children! As we near the border we meet the road we left in Porto Novo – it looks good. Teeth gnashing good!

Easy to get out of Benin, but they tell us to hurry as the border closes at 6pm. But naturally Nigeria cannot hurry. We see so many people: everything is fine but it is nearly dark. Actually, we would be happy to stay at the border but sadly they shunt us out. Now to find our hotel 40km away in the dark!

More in crazy Nigeria……


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