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” subdivision, 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): www.swr.de/archiv/regionen/draisinen-abenteuer/-/id=6758680/did=766052/nid=6758680/1p8sp8q/index.html
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.