I pop out onto a major East/West highway, and point East, directly towards the Republic of Congo. I move through a couple cities, and find my way to Franceville, one of the biggest cities in the country. For the first time in Gabon the central market has an abundance of Fresh fruit and vegetables. I don’t know why I have struggled until now, but the rest of the country has been devoid of good vegetables. Of course, I stock up.
East of Franceville I aim for Lekoni, just before the border. At a military checkpoint outside town I am a little shocked to see the guy trying to stamp my passport – he wants to stamp me out of Gabon! After some back and forward I explain I would like to explore the whole area and hang out for a few more days, and he is more than happy to let me go without an exit stamp. He just asks that I come back to see him when I am ready to leave. Great!
I am completely blown away to see the green rolling hills with open grassland! In all my dreaming I never would have imagined Gabon would look like this. All my thoughts of endless jungle and humidity are completely blown away by these huge open expanses. After talking to many people it appears they are in fact natural, and they stretch to the horizon in many directions. Who knew Gabon looks like this?!
In the little town I stock up on supplies, and am delighted to find meat being cooked on a grill. I am always a fan of street meat, and this chicken and pork is delicious. When I realize it comes with grilled hot peppers, onion and mayo I immediately order more and put it on the fresh bread I just bought across the street.
Surely grilling meat on an old oil drum must add some flavor!
I fill up water from a community tap in the village, and the local kids a bursting with excitement to meet me and ask one thousand questions about where I come from and where I am going. It’s obvious the parents have sent them over to get water, and it’s funny to see the children rush forward to chat while the parents stand back, eyeing my cautiously.
I find my way out to Léconi Canyon, which is supremely beautiful. It’s later in the afternoon by the time I have finished walking all around, and so I decide to camp right there on the rim. A massive lightning display in the distance keeps me entertained. Staring at the sky I attempt to locate the Southern Cross, a familiar sight I have not seen for a long time.
Gabon has been brilliant.
Now, it’s Congo Time!