Day 218: TONY!!

06.08.09: After getting to the hotel, I had worked for an hour or so on getting a video speech for my mate Michelle’s wedding uploaded onto YouTube, so it was light before I got to sleep. Two hours later, I was back awake with things to see and people to do. Although after last night’s (morning’s?) shenanigans, I was slightly more than reluctant to get out of bed, but there was no time to rest on my laurels. I got the wedding vid uploaded and sorted out a few bits and bobs online before unpacking my bag, repacking it and handing it over to Rocco. He would not be accompanying me to the next country, Nigeria, as (obviously) IT’S TOO GODDAMN DANGEROUS. But luckily for you lot, I’m as expendable as the crew of the Nostromo, so happy days off, I jolly well pop. Rocco would…

Continue Reading Day 218: TONY!!

Day 217: Songs For The Deaf

05.08.09: Frederick offered me a lift over the border on his bike, so at the cock’s call, we were hurtling towards Niger at a great rate of knots. There is a good 20km between the border guards and the border runs down the middle, so there was no bureaucratic tomfoolery to cause me problems. Once past the sign welcoming me into Niger, we rode for another half a K, just in case they had put the sign in the wrong place, I got off the bike, looked around for a bit and then we turned around and came back. I don’t know what Niger is, or what it does, but I’ve stepped foot on its soil. A perfect border hop, methinks. On the bus on the return journey to Fada N’Gourma, I sat with a couple of deaf guys who were from Liberia. One of them…

Continue Reading Day 217: Songs For The Deaf

Day 216: The Land of Honest Men

04.08.09: Once dawn had crept up on us unawares, the driver finally took us to our destination. A bus journey to the next town and then – as there were no buses to the border, we hopped on motorbike taxis to the imaginary line that separates Benin from Burkina Faso. In a stroke of genius rare in the political elite of Africa, the late Thomas Sankara (Tom Sank to his mates) changed the name of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso in the mid-eighties. Why? Well because it means The Land of Honest Men. As any educational psychologist worth their salt will tell you, if you tell someone they are bad over and over again (as my teachers often did to me), they will eventually think – oh well, if everyone says I’m bad, I must be a bad person, so it’s my nature to do bad…

Continue Reading Day 216: The Land of Honest Men

Day 215: Ben In Benin

03.08.09: An exceedingly frustrating day – first up, the Niger embassy was closed because it’s Independence Day over there at the moment. It’s going to be closed tomorrow as well. So I went to the Benin Direction Immigration Emigration office and tried (and failed) to get hold of this mythical five-country, Francophone visa that is alluded to in the Lonely Planet. Funnily enough, there were a couple of other backpackers who were trying to get their hands on exactly the same thing. If only it ACTUALLY EXISTED. But it seemed to the Benin authorities that we were the first people to ever ask for it. And me and these other people all just happened to get there on the same day. Hmm… Anyway, Ahmed from Germany, Eve from The Netherlands, and I would be frustrated in our attempt to escape from Benin today. Even the American…

Continue Reading Day 215: Ben In Benin

Day 214: Togo-A-Go-Go!

02.08.09: I had a chance to charge up my batteries and check my e-mails for the first time in godknowshowlong. There was no way of progressing past Benin before the embassies opened tomorrow morning, so I was in no particular rush to get there. I decided to check out the market and get my beard trimmed. You know at the end of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ when Belle kisses him and he turns into the prince? Yeah! Then Tanko’s nephew took us out for a quick jaunt around Accra. We headed to the Memorial Park only to find out it was €75 to film in there, so we went to the castle instead – only to discover that filming is banned outright. If in doubt, always find something to eat. We went to the Ghanan version of McDonalds and stuffed our faces with hamburgers and chips.…

Continue Reading Day 214: Togo-A-Go-Go!