Planning for this trip started early this year; from researching to making a list of everything that could potentially go wrong, and trying to figure out the fixes around them.
“I’d rather use public transport,” I said some time ago at the office, “you get to see people in their element.”
“But what about all the gear?” True. “We’ll get a bus.” And GIGM came through.
I think Tomiwa said something about money, but most importantly about the ease of getting money. So we did that Ecobank thing, and it’s not just for the cards, it’s for the other features that meant we didn’t have to depend on cash in a cash-heavy region – Ecobank Pay (Scan and pim-pim), XpressPoints (so you can turn codes to cash), and all that stuff.
Have things gone wrong, still? You bet. Here are some of the times we almost completely lost it.
That time they caught Kayode filming.
One thing you can consistently expect is border officials hating all forms of recording devices. One thing you can also expect is trying to point cameras in all kinds of places.
It was the Elubo border – we were on the Ghanaian side trying to get into Cote D’Ivoire. This was minor, to be honest. But the soldier said something about seizing gear. That was uncomfortable, for a few minutes. But nothing went totally wrong.
What about Guinea?
I won’t be forgetting Conakry for that great steak place – Favela. But you know what else I won’t be forgetting? Toke and I getting sick and ending up in a hospital.
But Guinea wasn’t done with us. Trying to leave the country was the single most daunting stretch on this trip, even harder than trying to get into Monrovia, Liberia from Cote D’Ivoire.
And when we entered Bissau?
Imagine this, you’ve spent the last two days travelling hundreds of kilometres, sitting in a bus, and then spending the night in it, crossing a river, only to get to the hotel you were supposed to stay and realise the receptionist is drunk.
Not only is he drunk, he actually says ridiculous things to your colleagues. That night was the night we almost risked it all. I’ve never wanted to beat someone so badly for as long as I can remember. Good thing that didn’t happen.
Last week, it was Toke.
While we – Kayode, Tosin, and I – were in one part of town, saying “oh Dakar is so calm and peaceful at night,” Toke was in another part of town getting sexually harassed. That hurt. That hurt a lot.
Yesterday, it was Tosin.
In Dakar, your vehicle only gets a pass to stay for only 10 days at a time. Before that expires, you need to extend the number of days at a government office.
And what happens when Tosin and Captain went there? The security guy legit pushed Tosin strongly enough to almost make her fall. That’s assault. Even worse, he did it because Captain was waiting outside.
When Captain went inside to go talk to him, he already disappeared. How would things have gotten wrong from a single push? We’ve been on the road for almost 80 days, stress levels are high, meaning everyone is a little more irritable, meaning the tendency to want to smack someone is higher.
But, peace and love though. The stretch from Mali to Burkina Faso to Niger will be tough, because the roads are long. But we’ll be good. We will be.
Peace and love till we arrive Lagos on December 10.