Across Nigeria. Day Ten.
(My Nigeria crossing starts with the story Into Nigeria. You should begin reading there)
We reluctantly pack up camp and bid farewell to the Afi Mountain Drill Ranch. It is a very special place, and a huge highlight of West Africa for me so far, and clearly the defining experience of my brief time in Nigeria.
The main road from Nigeria to Cameroon was once the stuff legends are made of – mud and mud and mud for days. For some people the sixty or so miles can take a week, even in the dry season! Getting through often requires being pulled by tracked machinery.
I actually chose a Rubicon with factory diff locks specifically because of this road.
None of that is true anymore, I was recently told a crew finished paving the road, and it can now be driven with cruise control set. I don’t really like the sound of that, so I have researched and found another possible crossing. It’s a little North, we are just hoping it isn’t too far North, into the no-go Boko Haram region of Northern Nigeria.
We move North from Drill Ranch and encounter more and more roadblocks and checkpoints. As has been the case throughout the country, all are friendly and we pass without hassle or incident. “Welcome to Nigeria” and “Safe Journey” really have become the catch-phrases of this country.
Stopping at another “Food is Ready” stand is again a great time to interact with locals, and again the Jolof Rice is incredible. We search multiple gas stations to find one that has diesel for my friends, eventually finding a very small station. I fill up too, and I am certain the pump counts the amount I buy incorrectly – my gauge says I need half a tank (around eleven gallons), though I am charged for sixteen. I am certain sixteen would not fit in the tank. Luckily it is so cheap that it does not really matter.
We arrive in Takum late in the day, and immediately search for hotels. The first one we ask says we can camp in the parking lot for only 1,000 Niara total, which is extremely cheap. It’s very dirty and noisy, so we say we will look elsewhere and might come back. Other options are not really much better, and upon our return the price has magically gone up, a lot.
Now the manager wants 15,000 for us to camp. With a lot of back and forward and disbelief on my part, the price at one point goes down to 4,000, though when I try to pay now he wants 10,000. After more negotiation the price is somehow 8,000 but again when I try to give the money it’s at 12,000.
This makes no sense what-so-ever and I struggle to understand why he can’t give me a straight answer. I don’t know if he enjoys the bartering, enjoys screwing me around or this is just how business is done in Nigeria. When we finally agree on 6,000 and I hand over the money, he is adamant I should give him another 4,000.
This is just because I should give it to him, apparently.
In any case, we have a place to sleep inside a walled compound.
It is hot and humid, and the generator is screaming.
Day ten in Nigeria.