Tuesday, 15 April 2008

13th April 08

Date: 13th April 08
Location: Abomey, Benin
Weather: Hazy blue skies and sunshine, light rain storm in the evening. 36°c
Status: Moving along very well

Up very early to get a good headstart on the roads as our notes for the day reported that we’d spend nearly 12hrs covering the 220kms, so prepared for the worst.

Arrived at the Ketou customs post after just an hour and a half as the road was tarmac the entire way, very different to the twisting gravel track we’d been promised. Only problem was the main street through Ketou was being resurfaced so we had to find a detour around the town which took the best part of 20mins until we hired another motor cycle outrider to take us directly to the correct building.

Once there I had to show the official exactly how to fill in the carnet, thanked him and departed Illava to have the passports and the immigration paperwork completed. Again a really friendly bunch who even allowed us to show them exactly where we’d like to have out passports stamped so as not to use up too may pages; an essential thing when travelling through so many countries at once!

So out of Benin and across into the dreaded country that is Nigeria…..found the customs and immigration no problems and even found some, well un-corrupt officials to deal with. It was a Sunday so most of the officials must have had the day off.

The quickest carnet stamping yet which was all over and done in less than 5 minutes and the lady even organised a money changer to come along and help us as change the last of our CFA’s across to Naira, the currency of Nigeria, as we’d be ripped off by
virtually every one else in town!

Found the road out of town and back onto the tarmac which again was in really good condition, surprisingly and we covered the 6hr journey in a little under 2 and found ourselves on the outskirts of Abeokuta before we knew it. Followed the instructions straight to the central market and Kerry and I went on the first shopping mission in Nigeria, and what a laugh it was – had a real giggle with the girls selling fruit and veg as they tried twice to charge the white man more than they should have! Not falling for it we stayed and insisted on the right money and finally they paid up!

Headed out of town to find the accommodation for the night, a golf course on the outskirts of town. Finally tracked it down and made our way to the reception, as the only people in sight and Emmanuelle greeted us. We could stay on the practice green at a cost of $5 per person, so we pitched tents just in time as the heavens opened and made our way to the veranda for an evening beer. The Major made his first appearance of the night; an ex-army major who runs the business side of the golf club and gave us a tour of the lake, and newly formed construction site where in two years time a water park will stand…..if all goes according to plan. Shame really as it’s the most stunning palm tree lines location nestled in the hills around the town.

Alex made dinner, soya mince spaghetti bolognese and then we sat chatting for a while before the Major took me aside as the team leader (!) and, with the chairman of the club on the phone, showed me the safest and fastest route through Nigeria to the capital Abuja. A journey which should take between 8 and 10hrs tomorrow, so early start and early bed, again.

End of day location: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Distance covered: 220kms

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