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26th Oct 12’ Wenchi – Suhum, Ghana

October 27, 2012

207 miles (4400 miles to date)

Leaving the Baah Hotel in Wenchi this morning after an interrupted nights sleep due to suspected bed bugs, I ride past a naked young man curled up by the side of the road. I spin the bike round and return to see if he is still alive. I notice his feet still have colour so check his breathing and could see his chest rise and fall. I pinch his ear to get a reaction; his eyelids opened slightly indicating he is kind of ok. I ask him why he is naked, he doesn’t reply. I take a stolen hotel towel out from my bag and place it over him as the morning was still fresh from last night’s thunder storm.

A mile down the road I stop at the checkpoint and inform the police officers who said the young man past them on foot last night during the storm and that it is a normal occurrence because of his mental illness. I ask them to go and help him but then wonder if I should be interfering in a society I am not used to.

In yesterday’s blog and I mention the thunderstorm being a sure sign of approaching the rain forests of equatorial Africa. Well just around the corner I find a mosaic of green Yuccas and Palms with dew dripping from the ends of their leaves and a thick mist lying low then creeping up the rocky cliffs. After the dry desert and bush heat the damp rainforest was a welcome sight. The morning temperatures had now dropped from 30’C to 22’C though later I predicted it to become humid as it did.

Approaching the busy city of Kumasi the traffic eventually grinds to a halt. Normally the cause seems to be the excessive taxis and mini busses stopping every few  meters to collect their passengers whist blocking the road. Being unable to filter and as the engine is air cooled, the longer the bike stood motionless with its engine running the higher the temperature gauge began to rise creating hot air from between my legs and up across my body. I switched the engine off for as long as I could but still had to move with the flow of traffic. My front breaks began to sqeak and I couldnty of thought of a worst place I wanted to be for a breakdown.

As sson as I reached the outskirts of towbn I poulled over at a well stocked petrol station and carried out some checks. The break pads still had lots of tread on them and tyere was no signs of deep scratches on the disks I checked all fluids as a precautionary measure especially since I had my Haynes manual out. I checked the oil only four days ago and topped it up even though it probably didn’t need it, however it was now showing almost empty by the eye glass. I topped it up even more using the stock I brought along. I rechecked the eye glass and it now showed a good level so I continued without any further problems though I would like to carry out a mini service on my next rest day in Lagos, Nigeria including replacing a suspected partially blocked air filter from the sand.

Throughout the day I developed a sore throat and my nose kept unexpectedly running. I’m worried I have contracted a small dose of Malaria so have doubled up on medication although it could well be the thick black exhaust fumes I have been breathed in over the last three weeks when riding behind the many Diesel engines struggling up the hills.

The previously very good road suddenly became a corrugated dirt track again but this was because of a road work diversion. It was every man for himself to see who could find the smoothest bit of track. Cars were going in all directions, with some even doubling back on themselves to save their clunking shock absorbers from collapsing. Along this stretch there were five trucks on their sides because of being so top heavy and hitting the camber too fast it making them topple over and shed their loads in to the grass verge. One truck was obviously transporting paint and there must have been 20 people covered from head to toe with Dulux White gloss trying to save what was left of the pouring paint. They looked like ghosts and zombies walking around out of a horror movie, it was hilarious.

Along the way I stop at most check points and get waved through all except one where two officers armed with AK47’s wave me down but only once I had zoomed past not noticing the stop sign. I return and apologise in fear of being gunned down from a distance especially since hearing about the Mauritanian Presidents car doing a similar thing only for his own Guarder’s to put him and his driver in hospital after gunning his car down for not stopping. The stocky police officer demands I empty my entire luggage for inspection so I do so. He asks if I have any marijuana to give him. I reply saying I don’t take drugs and nor should you. He asks for money, I tell him I don’t have any and it’s a shame I am experiencing this as the rest of my trip through Ghana has been extremely hospitable.

I ask him if I can go now, he says “No, I want your bike” laughed, and then waves me on. At that point I ride away with my eyes closed and body tensed.

207 miles South of Wenchi, I find a brand new hotel which isn’t quite finished. It’s expensive compared to what I have been used to, but I’m tired and think it’s well-deserved and there I am served a meal fit for a king being its only customer.

Tonight I will sleep well in my queen size bed and air conditioned room and hey guess what? it even has electric and running water!!