Day 221: Monsooner Or Later…

09.08.09:

After a couple of hours of shuteye, it was back on the case for your favourite ginger wanderer here. We left the house in search of Liberty (Yaz’s mate, not the concept) and it was POURING DOWN with rain. By the looks of things, Hugo hadn’t been driving for too long and a combination of him stalling the engine and the relentless WET resulted in the car battery dying an ignoble death. We had to push the car up out of a pothole on a hill with the rain teeming down and a storm drain thundering away just inches behind our rear tyre making failure not an option.

I nearly gave myself a hernia, my well-worn Vans slipping and sliding in the wet, but eventually we got the car free and after I got it push-started, we soon got to Liberty’s gaff. From there, we all went to the bus station for Yaoundé, the capital, where Rocco the Camera Guy was waiting for me, having flown there LIKE A SISSY (sorry Rocco!).

I said my Thank You’s and Goodbye’s and headed off on a big coach through the storm towards rainbows and blue skies on the other side. I was supposed to get in to Yaoundé at 4pm, but T.I.A. and so I arrived at about 5.15pm. Which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but today we were booked on the train that would whisk us up north overnight. And the train left at 6pm, and Rocco had been told to arrive by 5pm or risk having his brains sucked out with a straw by ALIENS. Or something.

In a bit of Law that would make Murphy gag, I got the slowest taxi driver in the continent to take me to where Rocco was hiding like some witness relocatee, custodian of my backpack and laptop, which had thought better of hurtling through Nigeria the wrong way up a one way street at 150 miles per hour. I had two minutes to unpack and repack my stuff, fling my muddy clothes at the startled hotelier (I’ll be back!) and scarper before the train left without us.

Bah, what was the rush? The train didn’t leave until twenty past six. We had bags of time. Unfortunately, while Rocco was in the (inevitable) scrum filming me enter the train station, some cretinous jackanape unzipped his camerabag and made off with the radio mic. Rocco noticed within seconds, but by then it was too late.

Highly aggravated by the loss of our equipment, we boarded the train and made our way to the couchette – our sleeping quarters for the evening. The train was great, reminded me of my days in the Raj – and it’s my first train ride in Sub-Saharan Africa. Good stuff.

The only problem was that the train had a nasty habit of throwing you violently left and right like a ragdoll as it chugged along. Which wouldn’t have been a problem – if only I had someone to spoon. Night, night.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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