234 miles (5602 miles to date)
This morning, the Hotel Manager and I checked the laundry room for my emergency wallet, it wasn’t there. I questioned the laundry boys and who seemed to answer truthfully that they hadn’t seen it so I now direct my suspicions towards the receptionist. Then again, maybe it was I who had lost the wallet when stripping naked in the hotel lobby, though I do remember using it shortly before arriving at the Azam Hotel. Anyway it’s gone and that is that.
During my stay at the Azam, I refuelled with as much food as my shrunken stomach could take. Since being on the road I have not weighed myself but predict a weight loss of at least a stone, which for those who know me was probably required. I woke up this morning feeling the effects of Fridays ride through the jungle as my shins are cut and bruised which serves me right for not wearing suitable riding boots. I woke up hardly able to turn my head and suspect just a pulled neck muscle which will no doubt help me keep my eyes firmly on the road ahead but nowhere else, lol.
Today’s ride took me across perfect tarmac all the way to Cameroons city of Yaounde. Along the way at a Guardermerie check point the officer waves for me to stop. I see his motorcycle and suspect he wants to compare bikes as often is the case. I wilfully stop unlike some cars that just ignore the officer’s request nearly knocking him over. A gun is drawn and pointed professionally towards the cars tyres. The officer frustratingly holsters his revolver and phones ahead warning the officers at the next check point to lay the spike strips to puncture its tyres.
The officer’s motorcycle was gleaming and presented as well as he was. We compare speeds, tyre sizes and age of our motorcycles then take photos. To his delight, I invite the officer to sit on board whilst I take his photo using his own digital camera then mine and swap bikes momentarily.
Last night, I finally made contact with the two white men also riding motorcycles through West Africa of whom I hear so much about along the way. At breakfast I receive a message delivered by the Chef who informs me the riders are returning from their mountainous rest and recuperation and will be en route to Yaounde tomorrow.
As the officer is so interested in motorcycles, I warn him there may be two other bikes following me either today or tomorrow. To my surprise, the officer said “yes, they passed thirty minutes ago and there are three of them”. Could the third be the illusive Eugene, I shamefully abandoned in Mali nearly three weeks ago. In excitement of finding company, I bid my farewell and leap back on the back to catch them up travelling at break neck speed through whilst slowing down through the quite villages. Passing through several villages I notice crowds of people sat down in the shade under tin shacks where they offer Sunday prayers and worship. In respect, I slow down so my roaring engine keeps the piece and also notice the lively choirs dancing and singing vibrantly. Exiting the villages I accelerate but after two near misses and a slam dunk in to a deep pot hole, I calm down and resume my leisurely pace. Unfortunately, they are nowhere in sight and I soon arrive in Yaounde where II locate a Hilton Hotel. Inside I make enquires regards to the cost of a room for the night. The receptionist asks me to call reservations and I now I know why. The lady on the phone tells me the cost for a standard room will be 300 Euros per night. In astonishment, I hang up the phone. I suspect the hotel staff are unaware of the absurd charges probably because its more than their monthly income. I drive away in disgust and locate the Palace Hotel which is a well presented tower block resembling an authority residential block you see in some of our cities at a cost of 35,000 Cameroon CFA (53 Euros) per night. The hotel has open parking but has a security guard and my second floor room overlooks my bike which means I can sleep at night. Another attraction of this hotel is the consulates being less than a mile away in the Quartier Basto region of Yaounde.
Today, remains warm and bright with temperatures around 30’C. No rain as of yet for the first time this week, though I have come down to a lower altitude which maybe the reason. I’m wondering if the rainy season is now coming to an end, but readers please feel free to correct me. If so, then I may just feel brave enough to attempt them Congo roads that are causing me so much worry en route to Brazzavlille in a few days’ time, otherwise it’s a plane or boat to Angola or a train or truck to Brazzaville.
Yaounde is a busy (ish) welcoming city with the sounds of ghetto blasters blaring out Jean Paul from the nearby apartment blocks mixed with constant sounds of taxi horns honking. The city is spread out, welcoming and traffic not too busy. Its nice here, but not as nice as Bamenda.
Preparing for dinner, I take advantage of the continuous electricity this hotel seems to have and inspect my various body parts for any abnormalities under the bright fluorescent light. For the first time in days I take a look in the mirror and notice my ridiculously lengthily nose hair, Whoa! That’s needs sorting. Other than that and apart from the mental issues all is fine.
Tomorrow, I plan to apply for my Gabonese visa and the following day my Congolese visa (no I don’t because I have just realised its Sunday tomorrow so this will happen Monday and Tuesday) though I’m still unsure as to my next planned route. If and when these visas are issued, I can continue my journey South in to the beautiful Gabon I hear so great things about.
Messages from friends are really appreciated particularly those who offer support and advice which refuels my stamina to continue. Thanks to all.