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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
(My Nigeria crossing starts with the story Into Nigeria. You should begin reading there)
Anticipating a massive final day in Nigeria, we are on the move early once again. We top off everything we can at the only functioning gas pumps in town, before heading out on an extremely potholed and bumpy road.
At a few Immigration, Police and Military checkpoints we are warned of occasional bandits on the road ahead. Apparently they don’t pose much of a threat to us – so as long as we don’t stop – and so we continue on our way, now much more alert.
Thankfully, we see nothing.
After many hours of nasty potholes we arrive at the tiny border town of Bissau, where I watch a uniformed Policeman stumble from a bar, throw a beer bottle onto the ground and attempt to straighten out his uniform, all while trying not to fall over. The entire town has come to greet us, and everyone is extremely friendly and there are many handshakes all round.
The Immigration officer has not seen a single foreigner here in his three month posting, making me think we are on the right track! His stamp only goes up to 2009, so he stamps that in our passports before crossing out the date and just writes in a new one. That all seems very official to me!
A couple of guys on motorbikes escort us through the village and point us in the direction of the correct track – now obviously only used regularly by motorbikes. The jungle is growing in on all sides, and at times we find a steep scramble of loose rock.
We continue in this fashion for hours and hours, crossing a few small rivers and walking a couple of sections first to see around then next corner. The heat and humidity are intense as always, and any time I am out of the air conditioned Jeep I pour sweat, even standing still.
The official International border is a slightly wider nondescript river, completely un-signed and with zero official presence. We take a few photos, and the guys washing their motorbikes in the river either don’t know the significance of the river, or they simply don’t care.
Afternoon turns to dusk which slowly dissolves into a moonless, starry night. With little other choice we continue crawling forward and eventually come to a tiny mud-hut village in Cameroon. There is still nothing official here. After a quick team meeting we decide Immigration and Customs will simply have to wait until tomorrow, and with the permission of the locals we setup camp right in the middle of the village, in no-mans-land.
Mercifully the temperature and humidity drop, and I fall asleep quickly.
On to Cameroon.