Across Nigeria. Day Five.
(My Nigeria crossing starts with the story Into Nigeria. You should begin reading there)
Back to early starts, we get away from the hotel at 7:30am and make our way back to Liza and Peter’s place in the city. We are taking equipment to the Ranch in exchange for huge quantities of wake-up coffee. I want to take a Chimp in the Jeep. Liza says no.
We clear the city and are soon heading North, talking to familiar Police and Military at every stop. Most of them remember us, which makes some wave us through immediately while it causes others to be more persistent about giving them something. I stick to my routine of saying we must trade – something for them if they give me something, which almost always makes them stop asking.
Again at Ikom we fill up every last drop of gas, and buy a few assorted vegetables, uncertain what we will find from here out. We move North, more or less parallel to the border of Cameroon. When the road is pavement, we wish it was not. The potholes are so large and continuous, the going would be faster on dirt.
Passing through small towns we start to encounter men stopping traffic who are obviously not Police or in any way official. They are representing some kind of “community fund” and are asking transport trucks to pay for permission to drive through their town. The men are always in their late teens or early twenties, and often look like they are up to no good. Keeping a smile on my face always wins through. We never pay. They always have a rope of some sort across the road and the now familiar home-made spike strip to throw in front of tires. At one stop the men are lazing in the shade, and I am fairly certain one has a fake rifle. I am not 100% certain, and I would not want to find out if it’s fake or real.
The afternoon drags on and on with us bumping along broken roads and passing through small towns. We have entered extremely thick jungle now – low fog hangs around and huge mountains rise up in the distance. The Afi Mountains.
Eventually we turn off the main highway and bump along a gravel road, passing enormous trees choked with vines. Only a few miles from our destination we must cross a couple of rivers. At this time of year none have enough water to be a problem. Just as I switch on my headlights we turn into the driveway of the Drill Ranch, a narrow track cut into the thick jungle.
Finally, as the light completely fades, we arrive at our destination and setup camp in a small clearing in the jungle.
I fall asleep to the loud chorus of the jungle and hear Chimpanzees screeching loudly.
I can tell they are very close.
Day five in Nigeria.