Sunday, 11 May 2008

9th May 08

Date: 9th May 08
Location: Lastourville, Gabon
Weather: Scattered cloud and humid, thundery in the afternoon. 35°c
Status: Stuck in the middle of the jungle, unsure of how to progress!

Had a fantastic lie in this morning as I decided to splash out on a room in the hotel last night as I had spare CFA’s which had to be spent before crossing the border in a few days time. Was awesome to have aircon, a king-size bed with company and the chance to have no alarm clock to wake up for as we set the departure time for a lazy 10am, superb! Bre and I wandered downstairs, filled the water tanks, drove into town and stuffed ourselves full of baguette and choco spread, popcorn and OJ.

Took to very steep road out of town towards Franceville and luckily found ourselves a really good quality road, we managed to keep an average speed of 50kms/hr up and 3hrs later entered the outskirts of the city passing the obligatory police road blocks some of which wanted the full passenger manifest, some wanted the carnet and one even asked for vehicle insurance….of which none of the vehicles had any! So I produced my UK insurance and the lady cop was more than happy to accept it as being a legitimate document! HA

Had a phone call from my old boss Alistair today which was excellent, amazingly good line from the UK and really good to hear from him too, reminded me how much I loved working at the RS&G and also how much I’d love him to join me for the Kili climb later in the year.

Found the tourism office in the centre of the town and spoke to the official who advised us about the best attractions to visit in the area including a number of waterfalls which we’d heard about that at this time of year, the rainy season, which were bound to be running at a maximum this time of year, wicked!

Decided to drop the idea of having a guide with us (which later turned out to be a bad idea) and headed out of town on the southerly road down which after 5-10kms, according to the guide, we’d find our waterfalls! Oh African directions, estimations and guides…..they suck!

The road slowly got thinner and thinner, the surfaces more and more rutted and the storm on the horizon got closer and closer until it was raining hard all around us. We’d tried a few smaller bridges and had no problems but then arrived at a precarious looking combination of logs, stones and planks nailed to the top of the lot. I approached it first and after lining myself up made it over though rather shaking from the experience. Patrick followed and made it over safely with a little sliding to get traction and then came Kees.

He did the first bit well enough and lined up the front wheels but as the truck squared up to the bridge the rear wheel cut the corner and crashed through the first layer of planks and logs, a luckily hit the accelerator at just the right time, powering over the bridge and up the other side. He’d made it but there was no way we’d be going back over the same bridge again, unless we had to and only after extensive repairs.

We continued for another 5kms with the track getting narrower and more over grown and the wash out ruts getting deeper and deeper. We stopped and assessed the situation concluding that it would be best if the two 4x4’s went on to find a camping spot and the truck hold tight for now. We managed to get another 1500m before the track totally disappeared and even we struggled to make it further, there was no way the truck would make it through here.

Decision made then, we turned around and made it back to the truck and pitched camp for the night, Patrick cooked dinner and we hit the sack early as who knows what tomorrow holds with a bridge building mission top of the agenda. Another feather in our Trans Africa hats maybe!

End of day location: edge of the track, south of Lastourville, Gabon
Distance covered: 250kms

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