Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa…


Good news – I was able to run laptop. Bad news – half of the keyboard does not work. Need to buy an external keyboard..

Last visa for further advance has been recieved. Now I can go but at this point money ran out. Obtaining visas for both Congos cost me total of 300 euros, which was the last of my supplies.

19.01.2016 Benin-City, Nigeria

Little disclaimer: The humidity of this area killed my laptop. It was cheap and old but still a pity. And what is most important – I have no longer any possibility to write. This is the last text, written on it (thanks to good habit to keep it all in the Internet). Rest in peace, Acer.

… Cheap shitty hotel – there was no better description of this place. Yellowish light, ragged walls, creaking ceiling fan, and some American thriller clattering of paunchy old TV in the upper right corner of which is directly on the glass of picture tube is scrawled “Usama Ivory Hotel” – funny stealing protection. I’m too tired to look for other place. Riding gear hangs at corners of the room for drying as I lay on the creaky bed sipping a Star – a local beer, Nigerian production. Looking around everywhere you can see traces of the colonial past. English wall sockets not suitable for standard plug, two taps in the sink (though useless, because the hot water was not here for a long time), toilet cistern with a typical rotary sswitc… I decided to finish off the battery of my notebook and engaged texts.

My acquaintance with Nigeria – a country inconsistencies – began respectively contradictory. On the border of Benin local Beninese border guards tried to get some money from me. For just to put a leaving stamp in my passport. I can understand the logic in the creation of barriers to entry into the country – after all if the traveler arrives at the border of the country, he is definitely interested in getting into it. But in the creation of obstacles to the exit … I behaved in the usual way. I stoodIleaning on the pillar staring at the border guard and smiled, showing that I have a ton of free time, so we can examine each other before the end of the world. Still hoping for something a border guard finally gave up when I bought a bottle of water from the passing trader, sipping with the undisguised pleasure. Recognition of his own defeat is not too impressed by him, so he found a compromise – “the next time”. While he stamped my passport, I nodded in agreement – yes, of course, the next time, definitely. Mentally prepared and gathered for a huge pile of impediments on the other side, I have entered the territory of Nigeria. And contrary to expectations – only 15 minutes passed four customs office. The customs on arrival, then complete the questionnaire, temperature measurement and demonstration of a certificate of vaccination (Ebola and yellow fever are not asleep), and departure. Severely-looking officers of different types with scarred faces greeted me, shook my hand and smiled. Welcome to Nigeria. English speaking country. I was glad that finally I can enjoy socializing in full, without building scanty phrases from my knowledge of French. At the exit of the customs, I was attacked by a pack of beggars, but it was not on their ability to catch up with the motorcycle.

I drove half of the border town and stopped to buy water and to exchange money. I had to change remains of the already familiar francs CFA, which ccompanied me since Senegal for naira – the local currency. I turned to the people sitting in the shade of a tree and was very kindly greeted. Money can only be exchanged at the border, they said to me, you have to go back. I really did not want to go back to a very insistent beggars and did a long sigh. Accurately guessing the cause of breath I was offered a seat on a bench in the shade, until one of this friends took my money and went on his moped to the border, to change. I did not resist. Even if this guy wanted to cheat me – the remains of francs is not too big loss. The second of his comrades brought me a bottle of cold water. I promised that when the money will be exchanged, I’ll pay for the water but he waved his hands and said, “Welcome to our country.” Soon the first man returned and brought the money for excbrought. I guessed to take any money for his help and he just refused. I sat on the bench with them, smoked, found out the road to detour Lagos to not participate in its wild traffic and hit the road. So began my acquaintance with Nigeria. Everywhere no matter where I was before, all around at the mention of Nigeria told that there are very dangerous and almost wild men. However, it turned out to be quite the opposite. Further about it.


I moved to Benin City. According to the original plan, I had to flypass Nigeria in two days. Fearing all sorts of rumors about the total rampant crime in this country I was planning to carry out two steps – to Benin City, and after spending the night there – to Calabar. Grab there visa for Cameroon and farewell to Nigeria. I go on the road and was immediately stopped at the checkpoint. I was prepared to attempts of corruption, however, contrary to expectations, the police checked my passport, and once they realized that I came on a motorcycle from Russia – began to ask permission to take a picture with me. Each got a smartphone and everybody for few minutes took the pictures of me on the background of a motorcycle.


Then they wished a happy journey and let me go. Absolutely the same situation was repeated three more times over three kilometers – apparently border traffic likes to carry contraband, so every kilometer there was a checkpoint. I was glad to talk with local people, but each such stop takes time, and counting the passage of the border, which has taken away a certain time, the chance to get to Benin City before dark melted with each checkpoint. I grumbled on this subject myself, but fortunately checpoints were over, and under the wheels finally run the unstoppable asphalt. The road was excellent which gave me confidence that I’ll get to my destination on time. I was told that I should not under any circumstances to drive in Nigeria by the dark, and … of course, I broke the rule.


The first reason was the weather. Somewhere in the middle of the road came the sandstorm – I was wondering how can there be dust when all around is overgrown by bushes and trees but the fact is a stubborn thing. Visibility was reduced to a few meters, and wind gusts rearranged on the road my bike very hard. Dust gets everywhere, grind the nose and mouth, even wearing a helmet, but there was no choice but to go on resisting elements. At one point, I asked myself, “Could it be worse?” And the answer came almost immediately – the dust replaced by the water. Water streams rained from the sky hitting hurt my hands without gloves, dust suddenly turned into mud. Down the road came rushing rivers. There was nothing to do with that, so I hid under a huge tree on the side of the road and waited. After around 20 minutes when I was already dripping wet someone’s invisible hand turn off the tap, and in just a moment the rain stopped. Later, rains caught up with me a few times but fortunately not as horrific scale.

The second reason was traffic. There is almost no traffic rules here instead of “bigger size” rule. Which means – the right one is with the vehicle of larger in size. And the motorcycle, respectively, on the lowest rung of the “food chain.” And when one truck from the opposite direction starts to overtake the other truck – he just does not care whether there is someone on the road if it is not another truck. When you encounter this multi-ton machine of buzzing and blinking with its high beams – there is nothing left but to catapult to the bush. The same goes in the same direction – if not to mark yourself by long horn overtaking someone – you’d be just ignored. After a couple of such cases enlightenment came to me, and I began to significantly slow down the speed if the situation is similar to that described above. What, after all, slowed me down as well.

I arrived at Benin-city after dark already deeply wildly tired. The original plan “to come before the dark, to buy a local SIM card for the internet, to find a suitable place for the night” failed miserably due to lack of strength. I just drove in a pair of cheap hotels near the track, identify local lower ceiling price (3,000 naira, 15 euro) and stayed at the next hotel. And here I am, in the company of a humming fan and grumbling TV, eating rice with spices and wash down by this ice-cold beer. Something which gave me some relaxation.

18.01.2016 Cotonou, Benin


New year in Ouagadougou. My first change of this calendar date on the road. New Year holidays itslef here are surprisingly calm and quiet. The air does not soar any NY fluids, it does not feels like preparation for something big. I’m accustomed to a like of pre-holiday fuss and followed by celebrating in a big way, and it was very unusual to celebrate the everydayness of the last and the first day of the year. In a fit of some kind I built a Christmas fir tree from the motorcycle.


On New Year itself we got out on the local main street, got some drinks greeted by fireworks at midnight and went home. Soul was asking for some party and it happened the next day. For some time before the new year, the Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation introduced me with a bored Russian comrade who was involved in a small business in Uaga and missed the New Year’s holiday. Moussa delivered both of us to his friends who are celebrate New Year in a big way, “non-traditional” for these places. We had quite of fun then! A porch of Moussa’s house, meanwhile, has turned into an art studio. Wonderful gizmos paintworked in Burkina:




I asked to send one to Anna. I think she will be happy.

Time was passing by,there was no response from the PM-Garage, and I was looking by myself for any way to get me the proper part for a motorcycle, this rear wheel bearing. I traveled around the city, asking, learned, but in vain. In desperation, I delved into the Internet, and at HorizonsUnlimited forum I stumbled upon one post. It was in the “Africa” sub​​division, in the “workshops all over the world” division. The post was about one of the motoservice mechanics in Ouagadougou. It was about a good guy, who knows his job and had some parts in stock, even a small array of bearings. Yes, it was written about the bearings separately. Coincidence? Thousands of them! The post was from 2008. 8 years ago! This was the only post related to motorcycle workshops in Burkina (while there was far more about other countries). Without much hope I wrote an email to the address which was left in post, and put it through the Google translator into French … and received a reply almost immediately! Issa was the name of mechanic, wrote that he was for many years not engaged in motorcycles, he switched to cars. But he will try to look for help. What, in general, for me, it meant the almost complete lack of hope – by myself I have visited all the bearing shops asking for my special one (as many as foon shops for whole city) and full of countless simple moto-autoshops. At the same time on the next day Andrej arrived to Ouagadougou from Bobo and I asked him to call Issa and find out the details, as my spoken French has developed rapidly, but still left much to be desired. Andrej called and said that it is best to go talk to the place. He was just heading to the same districts of the town to see his old friend, the chief of service centers. Can you guess? That’s right, we finally arrived at the same place. Further events have acquired quite an incredible turnover. In the service station (probably the most clean, neat and well-ordered one of those that I have seen in Africa) a small party was buzzing. One of the main mechanics had a birthday. On this occasion he was visited by his friend from Morocco. Who had other friend which had road accident driving R1100GS. And bearings from that GS the same as on my motorcycle. That is the case where the expression “stars have developed” fits perfectly.

The next day I spent with my GOOZ in this service station changing the bearing. However, the process itself … old parts had to drive out and new ones had to be placed. The proceplaced in a true African style. My bike, if he had the mind, must be horrified to the depths of his motor. Previous Bearing change was 60 000km back at the heart of BMW – Munich, all according to the canons, and now … Hehehe. But the deed was done, and I regained freedom. The next day I went to the immigration office of Ouagadougu and got Visa D’Entente, unified visa, which is suitable to the five countries – Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger, Togo and Benin. I was interested in the last two countries. All managed to crank out in one day (two photographs, 24 000 CFA, documents in the morning, visa at the evening), and there was nothing to limit me in the continuation of the path.

Therefore, I packed up and left in the direction of Togo. Not far from the border of Togo I drove near Pama National Park and stopped for the night at the Kompienga reservoir. In the morning, while folding the tent, I decided to look at the reservoir before crossing the border. I drove by the dam and observing the fence with barbed wire asked security guard without much hope if I could look at the dam and reservoir. Surprisingly he sent me to a man sitting in the shade nearby (the boss) and he suddenly gave the nod! I left the bike in the parking lot, we saddled moped and the guard drove me into territory. After five minutes we were there. We climb to the dam.

RservoiR on the right


And on the left the result of dam


I tried to take a pictureof the lake butlakere was not much sense in the photos – above the water there was morning mist. After we descended back to the power station and I do not even hoped to get inside, but suddenly I had opportunity to visit all three levels, which I admired in every corner of those gigantic constructions. It felt great curb the power of the river that turns the generator (at the secondary level the rotors could be seen) with incredible speed, trying to find its freedom on the other side of the dam. Gray, unpainted concrete walls and ceiling, white and yellow color of the machinery, constant rumble and shudder of suppressed nature. I was expecting just only look briefly at the reservoir, and this morning I got sudden gift which I received with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to take pictures, and I accepted it with understanding, though felt a little of regrets. Really very fascinating. And it was very hot inside.

We came back, I gave 500CFA to the guard to which he waved his hands and said that 200 would be enough. But I insisted on my proposal – I have looked at everything from all sides, including the monitoring and control room, and it was definitely worth much more. Both sides parted happy and smiling. And I quickly flew the remaining few kilometers to the border.

On the border happens small funny story. The border guard looking at my visa d’entente and suddenly told me that I could not enter the territory of Togo. I ask “why?” – He pointed to a mark Single Entry and the fact that the visa was issued in Ouagadougou. According to his logic, I have already moved into one of the countries, ie Visa has already been used. I suspected that the single entry may well not work for the whole area, and only applicable to entry to one of the countries, and after I had to go to Benin, where in extreme cases it was possible to buy a transit visa at the border. However, a joint visa can be obtained ONLY in the territory of one of the Commonwealth countries, ie border guard arguments were somewhat illogical. Available separately Burkina visa and my arguments doubted him, and he was smart enough to call his boss. Who finally explained everything, and without further delay I was admitted to the territory of Togo, filmed already familiar clay huts of Burkina for the last time.


On the other side of the border changes were striking. Togo is not the most developed country in Africa, but compared to Burkina contrast was enormous. Good roads, landscaped villages, signs, advertising … Sometimes I felt as if again in Europe



Sometimes on the famous island of Far Cry 3


Reaching the ocean


In Lome, capital of Togo I settled into a hotel and camping called Chez Alice, which was recommended to me by Mark and Edward, and where I suddenly met mototravelers, which I already met to Bamako. They traveled on the principle of one step at a time, that is, doing vacation travels on a motorcycle, then left them in Africa, and with the next release back to continue the journey. To put the tent under a coconut tree was worth only 1000CFA, and I spent two days discussing and talking about adventures with them and Walter Werner – awesome German, who lived on the islands of Polynesia. Several years ago he traveled 3,000 kilometers from Danau to Black Sea on the draisin. Not one that travels on rails but that one with wheels but without pedaling. You have to sit and push with your feet off the ground. Draisin itself was unusual – he built it out of wood and metal according to the old pattern! Read and see this here (in German):

The next point of destination was the Cotonou – the largest city and unofficial capital of Benin. From the capital of Togo which was only 150 km. The road also was excellent (teeming with curious gendarmes at their posts) and on the border of Togo and Benin I met Gerald – German, who worked in the joint Benin-German state-owned enterprise. He said that in Cotonou he has a colleague who was also ride on a motorcycle, and will probably be happy to invite me to visit. Upon arrival in Cotonou I called the listed number and we met up with Toni. Toni nearly full of the same age to me (the difference between the birthdays of 11 days), pleasant to talk fellow with a lively mind so we immediately found a common language. We talked almost incessantly, about the world, about travels, about these or other situations, in general, discussing all that interesting for two people exploring the world. In his house I found the book called Why Nations Fail (authors Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson), which I red from time to time, and which also gave a lot of food for our conversations. The matter was nearing the weekend and Toni suggested a trip in Abomey, the capital of the kingdom of Dagomey once existed, one of the most famous places of voodoo. So we rolled out. The road there was excellent, and only upon arrival, I suddenly remembered that this segment of 150 kilometers from Abomey to Cotonou, Spaniard Jonathan (whom I met in Mali) called “hell”, after which he gave up and decided not to go further and look for a ship to Spain for himself and his motorcycle. It turned out that the road was finished to roll into the asphalt just before my arrival. Again a curious coincidence. Sometimes I tell myself that it seems all my journey – a never-ending chain of coincidences.

However, in Abomey, we were located in a nice guest house with the typical African “Mamo,” and went to a meeting with a French family, friends of Toni.



Tristan in the middle between father and mother. On the lefl is his wife and child and on the right is Toni.


Lovely lovely people! We spoke in English with accents of French, and I noted that my French continues to progress. Excellent!

After we visited the palaces of the last two kings of Dagomey (total number of kings was ten, and traditionally they were attaching their palaces to the palaces of the former kings), a kind of sacred place. The palace is a two courtyard, enclosed by walls, within which are the temple, the reception hall, a conference room and related pieces. Dagomey itself is quite an interesting story (for example, the only documented fact of “Amazons” presence in the army), and it was one of the rare moments when listening to the guide was not boring, but very, very interesting. TraditionsTof voodoo are still very strong here (as in Nigeria, for example), so that all potentially significant objects decorated with various signs of protection and threats. Unfortunately, after a vain attempt to photograph anything in the palaces of kings camera was discharged – it is strictly forbidden to photograph, so I had to try to somehow dodge, with the result of discharge because of the constant on-off attempting to take a hideous picture. People here believe in the magic of voodoo, and perhaps this was one of its manifestations (the guide seems to have noticed that something I’m trying to do) …

Still, one photo I managed to do.


On the left is the temple (the wall which you can see with the skulls of sacrificing cows), at right – treatment room king used to dominant warriors (eg, before the war). The cannons were traded for slaves from Portuguese. It is easy to note that the roof of the building is made in modern ages, but this is an interesting feature of the local attitude to relics – they do not tend to keep all intact, but keep everything as it was, rearranging if necessary, and maintaining the full functionality. Do they believe that the Kingdom will rise from the ashes, and the king will come back? .. Who knows.

Tomorrow I’m going to Nigeria, and the local stories and rumors about situation there makes me somehow restless. But we’ll see.