Date: 10th May 08
Location: Bush camp in the jungle! East of Libreville, Gabon.
Weather: Clear overnight and colder, then scattered clouds in the morning 33°c
Status: Worried about how the hell we’ll get the truck out!
A good nights sleep in the surprisingly cooler conditions and awoke not knowing where the hell I was as I poked my head out of the tent in the morning…and then it hit me, we had a huge task ahead of us today to try and get back to the safety of the main track, somehow rebuilding the bridge we had destroyed the night before!
Had a superb breakfast and finished off the last of the bacon, tomato and fresh baguette much to the disgust of my fellow campers as the smell percolated into their tents to wake them prematurely!
Packed up and started the drive back to the broken bridge which appeared ominously around the corner after 15kms. Everyone left the vehicles, walked over to the scene of the disaster and offered their immediate opinions on how best to tackle the rebuilding of the next 15m off road. When the truck had driven across on the evening before it had smashed 40% of the horizontal struts and as it had done so also dropped a number of supporting logs into the river below leaving the two main tree trunks and a number of planks left for us to drive over!!
After an hour of building and digging we managed to get a base ready for the sand ladders to be strapped to and prepared to send over the first of the cars…surprisingly…..me first! As I warmed the engine a Hilux pulled around the corner with 3 members of the bridge construction team who we’d passed earlier in the day. Oh it was good to have some experts overlook the job we’d done and they even gave it the thumbs up….once we repositioned some of the major supporting beans at the side of the bridge!
Gingerly I approached the edge of the bridge and crept over with not so much of a crack or crumble, Patrick approached and did exactly the same just leaving Kees and the 10 tonne truck to traverse the rickety old bridge!
With film crews positioned at all angles the beast approached the edge of the bridge and started the crossing, immediately the first log shattered so Kees floored the accelerator and the truck committed itself fully. The sides of the bridge fell away completely but the main tree trunks held firm and the momentum of the truck carried up the far side of the river bank, but it was a close run thing! Congratulations all round for another good team effort and we were on our way again.
Pulled into Franceville again but this time we decided to try our luck with the 5 star Hotel Poubara. Armed with my Afritrex shirt and business plan I spoke to the director of the hotel in French and managed to get him to allow us to pitch up camp in the grounds of the hotel right underneath the President’s room, with full use of the facilities and restaurant including the swimming pool! Ah wicked after the last nights camping…..
Had a swim, used the internet and relaxed before heading to the restaurant for a slap up dinner, which was given to us at a cut price due to the expedition so had to settle for the duck in mandarin sauce….exquisite! This over landing is such hard work!
Bed and sleep.
End of day location: Franceville, Gabon
Distance covered: 50kms