The Gabonese Republic

Traveling Gabon was pretty relaxing! The tropical nature was beautiful and the roads great, even though not all of them were paved. Here are some impressions.

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Double Is Better!

As we were loosing motor oil while driving through Cameroon, but had to leave the country because of our expiring visas, we stopped by at the next garage in Bitam, Gabon. In order to change the flywheel seal, Domi had to remove the engine.

There was no car lift, so couple of men helped lifting the car bare-handed. Unfortunately the first gasket didn’t fit, so he had to pull out the motor twice. Now everything’s working great again and Herbie is ready to tour Gabon!

The Nightly Car Wash

Last night, at 2 a.m., Domi suddenly woke up. Our bed was shaking and Domi thought, somebody’s trying to break into Herbie, who’s connected with our camper by the hitch. Immediately he jumped up and looked out the window to see what’s going on there. Domi couldn’t believe what he saw…

Somebody was cleaning the Love Bug! This nightly car wash went on for more than an hour. We didn’t want to interrupt the man at work, so we kept silent, while the guy got Herbie as well as our trailer, QEK, real shiny. In the morning we thanked the young man, who’s working for the hotel we were parking at (Hotel “La Solution”, right before Yaoundé) and gave him a generous tip. This was the first car wash since Morocco.

Tonight we’re staying at a gas station, right in the middle of Bastos, a district of Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé. We already enjoyed a cold and refreshing shower. Tomorrow morning we’ll go to the embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to apply for visas. After that we’ll be heading further south in direction of Gabon.

Herbie’s Defeating the Mud!

Today we finally entered Cameroon, where we were confronted with the worst road we’ve driven on Herbie’s World Tour so far. Thank God it is dry season! But anyway, Herbie prevailed, although he had to carry more than 120 liters (31 gallons) of gas.

Nigeria is Africa’s gas haven. One liter cost just 50 Euro-Cent (60 US-Cent). Therefore we spent all the rest of our Nigerian money for fuel. And just before reached the border to Cameroon we spotted also a jack fruit for sale on the side of the road.

The “road” (earth track) between the Nigerian boundary and the town Bamenda, in which we’re staying tonight, is in a catastrophic condition. Chinese corporations are already building a tarmac road through this jungle of western Cameroon.

Even though Cameroon’s forest is really beautiful, all our eyes were on the track and its condition. Meters high mud surrounded us while going through the jungle. This route is still the only connecting road between Nigeria and Cameroon.

The Very Special Nigeria!

Honestly, we are very pleased that we’ve already passed Nigeria. It all started when we reached its border, coming from Benin. From the moment Domi entered the Nigerian immigration office in order to get our entry stamps, we had to hear unbelievable things:

“Why did you obtain your visa in Mali? You should get them in Austria!”
“Your first time here!? What do you bring for our table?”
“Give us something and you are free to go!”

The hassle continued and became even worse while we were touring through Nigeria. Police, military and highway patrols stopped us countless times bothering us:

“You are not supposed to tow a trailer with this car!”
”This is your driver’s license? You look fat on this picture!”
”Anything! Just give me anything and I’ll let you go!”
”Why do you drive such an old car? You should have a new one!”
”Give me your camera or telephone! Just give me something!”
”Happy New Year! Where is your present for us?”

The Nigerian border crossing was without any doubt the most upsetting we experienced in Africa so far. And people’s behavior varied from weird to simply rude. We’re trying to handle such situations with a certain kind of humor. Anyway we are happy that we left this very “special” country, Nigeria!

“Braking” News!

In the past six days we had two major brake failures while touring across West Africa. The problem started in Togo. It turned out to be Herbie’s master brake cylinder.

The owners of “Chez Alice” in Lomé, Togo, who are by the way from Switzerland, helped us finding a mechanic. He replaced the seals of the master brake cylinder.

But something went wrong! The mechanic apparently damaged the plug for the brake fluid, when he reassembled the cylinder. We lost all the fluid within a day.

Suddenly, while driving in Onitsha, a bigger town in central Nigeria, the brakes failed a second time. We stopped at a gas station, asking for help and a parking spot.

Thanks to some police men and security officers as well as others, we were able to get hold of a used plug for our leaking master brake cylinder. Back on the road again!

Meanwhile we crossed the border to Cameroon and are resting in a town called Bamenda. The sad news are, we’re still loosing brake fluid. Hopefully we’ll find out why!

100,000 Miles: The Gulf of Guinea

After driving Herbie more than 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers) around the globe, we reached the Gulf of Guinea today. We arrived in Lomé, Togo, spending the night at a lodge called “Chez Alice” in Avepozo, just a couple miles east of Togo’s capital.

Thanks to Herbie, our beloved little car, who has driven us all around the world! After 100,000 miles we start giving the Love Bug even better motor oil. Today Domi filled in a fully synthetic 10W-60, instead of 15 or 5W-50 so far.

Togo

We entered this small but very nice and idyllic country coming from Burkina Faso. Our dear friend Serge, who lives now back in Vienna, is originally from here. Therefore we visited his family home in Niamtougou and stayed there for the night. Herbie and the camper were parked under a mango tree.

Burkina Faso – Land of Upright People

In this country, formally called the “Republic of Upper Volta”, we had no single check-point by the police or military so far. People are very, very friendly, even though Burkina Faso (understood as the “fatherland of upright people”) is one of the poorest countries on earth. The landscape is changing as we’re heading further east. We passed Ouagadougou and are spending the night in Koupéla.

Leaving Mali

Yesterday we left Bamako and crossed the border to Burkina Faso. We had to say “good-bye” to Harald, who stayed with us in Mali’s capital. On the highway we stopped for taking some pictures and as usual we were suddenly surrounded by a bunch of kids and we gave a granola bar to each one of them.