Friday, 2 January 2015

Upington and Kimberly's Hole.

Kimberly's Hole. O come on, you've got to chuckle at Kimberly's Hole.
But that's for later.

I arrived in Upington, a fairly large town for these parts. Where I had booked myself in at a residential address, which had been converted into a Backpackers. Hot, sweaty and knackered from the 420 km ride through the Kalahari Desert. But at least with my Man Garden suitably refreshed. I searched for the house, no GPS or map. But with a rough idea of it's location, having checked Google map, back in Calvinia. The task made more entertaining, as they'd changed the street name. And the owner didn't have a business sign outside. Non the less, I tracked it down in the end. Even if a big dog did feel the need to bite my leg, as I asked for directions! ! ( it's teeth didn't penertrate my Enduro Suit. )

Before I'd even got my kit off, an Afrikaans guy stuck a beer in my hand. He was also on a bike and was intrigued at all the sand and dust on my suit. I chatted to him and two other Afrikaans guys and was invited to drink their Klipdrift, (brandy) and share their brai. ( BBQ. And Afrikaans will have a brai every day if they can.) Brai, brandy, beer, rugby and Biltong are Afrikaans staple diet.

We had a great night, chatted like old mates. Yet again experiencing Afrikaans informal hospitality. In the morning I was keen to get a wiggle on and cover the 400+ km to see Kimberly's Hole. Now Kimberley is an old diamond town. With the largest hand dug hole in the world. So I took a few pictures of the place.

Now you might be wondering why I'm not using my tent more often. And it's one word...., robbery. The rate of crime here in South Africa, is at least 1000 fold more than the UK. Townships can be very dangerous for a white person. With my bike being liberated, a likely outcome. Even Cape Town, as lovely as it is, has street robbery at eperdemic levels. Rule of thumb being, at night you don't walk alone. Home invasion being a big problem too. With the average house having 12 ft walls, with an electric fence on the top. Panic buttons in each room, connected to a security company. Who provide a armed response.  The amount of people I've met with tales of knives and robbery. So unless I'm truly in the bush, I've been getting cheap Motel or Backpackers.

Makes you appreciate what we have. Just imagine if all our police were corrupt. Would take 2 hours to get to a burglary and the ambulance took 4 hours. And even if they did catch the guy, he was released in a couple of days. I just wanted to bring you upto steam on this. South Africa can be very, very dangerous.

Now I'm spending a lot of money on circumnavigating South Africa. And at risk to myself. I'm doing it so you will help me to help wounded servicemen. Im asking if you will all spend 5 minutes and a few quid. Please click the Help for Heroes logo. Please share this page. And please feel good about your actions. Youve just helped someone walk again. 😇😇😇😇

Will x

Man Garden Gate !!!!

Wasn't going to mention this. But in for a penny, in for a pound hey.! So, I'm riding through the Kalahari Desert,  with limited supplies and petrol. Every chance I have to buy petrol, I do.  To keep my 300 km max. range constantly available. You can go hours without getting to even a small community.

Well, I thought Calvinia was a one horse town. Brandvlei is still dreaming of that one horse!! It's basically a cross road in the middle of the desert, half a dozen houses and a petrol station. Litterally. Now my bike has had a problem with pressure building up in the fuel tank. As soon as you fill the Chonda up, the heat and fumes combine and out the petrol oozes from the filler cap. It's not a look, with a bare engine just below.  To counter this, I fill up, keep the cap off and go and grab a drink. Then once ive got my kit all on, I get my new anti petrol, sponge cloth at the ready. Set off, right hand on the throttle,  left hand mopping the petrol from the filler cap. You get the picture.

I parked the bike outside the petrol station come restaurant and had a bite to eat. Got my helmet and gloves on. And began the whole ride your bike one handed, whilst 2 litres of unleaded bellows out all over the gaff. Riding and mopping at the same time, the petrol stopped flowing out. (Nice one). But I was left with this petrol soaked sponge cloth. Unsure at 100 kmph, what to do with it, I popped it between my legs and sort of sat on it. (You know where this is going.)

Well.......welll...........if you think Towering Inferno meets Ralgex ......you have no idea of A) my surprise,  and B) The paaaaain!!!!!!!!!

I'm not kidding. The petrol covered cloth had seeped through my Enduro Suit, right into my......er.........Man Garden!!! It was like a nuclear reactor had ruptured or something. It was on fire down there. All I wanted to do was instantly stop and get my 3 litre water bladder out and get the pipe out and dowse the Garden down. Man the pain. Walking on coals, has nothing on petrol in the the Man Garden. Not content with the fire from hell down stairs. My nose and right eye were itching a bit. ( Take a guess what clever clogs did next ?) " Yep", I wiped my eye and nose. ........with my now, petrol covered glove. Result !!! My right eye was on fire, my nose was on fire and stank of petrol and my Man Garden was going through some sort of scorched earth policy. Then to top the lot, my black PVC seat, that had been sat in the Kalahari Desert sun whilst I ate. Was like hot enough to fry an egg on. !! Everywhere was just on fire. And the noises that were coming out of my crash helmet were nothing other than that of a mad man.

So, that was my day. What did you do ?? Funny. Sort of. So, Will's top tip.......keep petrol and Man Gardens apart. A long way apart.

No photos were taken during Man Garden Gate. And any attempt to discuss Man Garden Gate will be ignored😂😂

PS I have showered for an extended period.  And everything is as it should be. ☺

Please make Man Garden Gate worthwhile by clicking the Help for Heroes logo. The other person wont.....so please take a second to do some good, im doing my bit. The rest is up to you.

PPS. Just saying.........

Will x

This road is long........

So, how was your Christmas ? I've had my battery on my phone go into ' melt down ' mode, with the heat in the Kalahari Desert. It was hovering at 40 degrees, but can hit 50 !! So unfortunately I could not do the blog. But, we are here now.

Christmas Eve was spent in Calvinia,  northern South Africa. It's a small town of Afrikaans. ( Dutch of 400 years ago).  I find the Afrikaans really genuine and hospitable people. Always there to help each other, with much higher levels of unity, humanity and comeradery,  than would be 'normal'. (UK normal that is). I was in the hotel bar, messing about on Facebook, as you do. Nine Afrikaans guys were at the bar and of course speaking Afrikaans. When one came over to me and, in English, invited me to join them. They were all slightly confused why I had sat on my own, I'd even say, slightly insulated. (Oops).

Well the short version of the night would be, we sank a shed load of Jagermeister. (Which seems to be the Afrikaans national drink). Sang the Calvinia Men song, (which apparently is about drinking, fighting and sex). So all the important stuff then. Where I was offered a job as a Ranch Hand, on a 50,000 acre farm. Mind you,  I do need to learn how to ride a horse, as they didn't seem keen on me herding the cattle on my Chonda !!

I've not had many Christmas dinners in recent years and I'd forgotten it's Turkey. So, when I paid for my hotel Christmas dinner, I was actually expecting roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, potatoes and gravy. (That's Sunday Dinner, Duh!!). Not to worry, what I actually got was cold meat and salade noodle things!! Not exactly the best, but hey ho.

So I had two days in Calvinia, as the petrol station was closed. But finally set off on Boxing Day through the Kalahari Desert. I had some 420 km to cover on the Chonda, to get to Upington. The road was looooong !!! Uneventful terrain, just a straight road ahead of you, and a 4x4 passing every half an hour. I just got my I pod out and pushed on.

Bar my mobile phone battery being cooked by the heat, the journey was very business like. Not too much to report. And little to take pictures of.  That is apart from a comedy ......er....ahum.....Man Garden incident.  Now known as Man Garden Gate!!!

But that's for the next blog. Just bring a fire extinguisher with you. :)

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Cederberg Mountains

So.....up bright and breezy for breakfast at Cederberg Oasis backpackers. It's run by a lovely Afrikaans couple, who are pro bikers and very helpful.

I got my tool kit out and tightened up all the nuts and bolts on the Chonda. Cleaned the chain with my brush and some petrol. Re packed my kit and was ready for the next section, 80km of gravel track through the mountains to Clanwilliam. (Good name)

I've put some pics of the tents and backpackers building. I paid 160 Rand for a room with a kitchen, which I didn't use, as I'm "can't cook, won't cook". But I did have a fantastic steak and pepper sauce from the owner.The business, for 95 Rand. The bar was self service, with each guest having a 'Bar Book of Honesty'. Where you served yourself and wrote it down, how cool is that ?

Two large KTM's set off just before me. Then it was my turn, a tad nervous, unsure of what lay ahead. The track was gravel, dust and sand. Which is a nightmare to ride on and very easy to come off on. Riding fairly conservatively, I made my way through the Cederberg Mountains. A valley lay ahead of me, as far as the eye could see. Right upto the horizon. My bike twitching left and right, as I got into my rythem of sitting and standing. You'll see what I mean from the photos. Really impressive, makes you feel so tiny. Just me, the bike and rugged mountainous landscape all around. The track, with shear drops to one side......made more imposing due to the very high winds.

I stopped quit a few times and took pics, so check them out.☺ I'm not in many as I'm alone, and find it hard to balance the phone.

The track seemed to go on forever and a day. I felt myself adjusting to the gravel and, making my riding style more sutle. Then, a bit like seeing a glimpse of Big Foot,  I saw the side profile of something black and on all fours, go into the bush. I had a bit of a, "did I just see that moment". I carried on, had a water stop. Then, as I set off again I saw a troop of black Baboons crossing the track to my rear. Wow !! Not being in a zoo, I looked at the two baby baboons and realised all animals protect their young. Don't we ? One of the adults started to run towards me, so I pulled away slowly. The baboons 50 meters behind me now,he stopped and was distracted by some sort of fruit on the track. So top tip of the day, if baboons start chasing you......off load your apples and pears sharpish!!

As I approached Clanwilliam, the 80 km off road section coming to an end, I came across the local dam. Crystal blue waters, with some holiday cabins at the shore. I'd caught the two KTM's up by now, one can be seen in a pic. I was quit happy with the Chonda, 250 cc from China and holding it's own against the big boys. 😊

I filled up in Clanwilliam, my tank two thirds empty. I'm buying a 5lt fuel can tomorrow and strapping that to the bike. It would seem my fuel, air breather pipe is blocked. And is the most likely reason the petrol is spewing out of my fuel cap, as the pressure builds up. Which is exactly what happened again in Clanwilliam. (Onwards and upwards Rodders).

Following the map Andy gave me at Cape Town Backpackers, I headed towards Calvinia, approximately 190 km away. Tar mac all the way, I thought. Wrong!! 20 km later I was back on gravel and dust. Litterally nothing man made 360 degrees. I picked up speed and confidence, consistently riding at 70 to 80 km off road. When I say there was nothing.....I mean nothing. Bar the odd rogue 4x4 blasting dust all over me.

So here I am in Calvinia. Its a Afrikaace town. Afrikaance being very old Dutch, from 400 years ago. Mixed with new words the settlers made up for the african enviroment, a few English and French words thrown in to boot. Its facinating. Christmas Eve and Day finds me with nowhere to buy petrol. So I did some negotiations with hotel. Which is really not bad at all. I'm paying 220rand a night. (£14ish) Tomorrow I'm filling up and heading to Upington. Which is in the Kalahari Desert. We shall see what the desert brings to me.

I know it's Christmas, but can you please realise I'm doing this, just like when I crossed africa before, in aid of wounded servicemen. Please click the Help for Heroes, top right. £20...come on. Don't our amputee soldiers deserve to walk in the New Year ?

Willx




Monday, 22 December 2014

Hotel Callafornia. ...aka ...Cape Town Backpackers.

So, here we go. I'm back in Africa and raising awareness and donations for Help for Heroes. All donations go directly to wounded servicemen, most of whom have lost limbs in the service of Britain. Simply click the Help for Heroes logo, top right and you will be taken to the charity donate page.

This time I circumnavigating South Africa, solo and unsupported and self funded, on a Chinese copy of a Honda XR 250. I'm calling it the Chonda ! I bought it brand new in Cape Town, for18500 Rand (£1,100).
To be strictly legal here, I needed a Traffic Regulation Number, in order to register the bike in my name. Well, in true african fashion it's taken 5 weeks and I still don't have it. But as the South African police are frequently corrupt, I'm hoping to be asked for some cash, so I have my 100 Rand at the ready.

I wanted to start with thanking everyone at Cape Town Backpackers. Andy the owner is also ex British Army and was an absolute diamond. The staff feel more like friends now. Justine even giving up her staff bed, as the hostel was fully booked one night. (No potty minds please, she was at her boyfriends. ) I was also given many a demonstration on how to smooth in on the ladies by young Jerrard aka J Rad. JRads main tactic being, to talk for South Africa to one of them and simply flop his hand and arm loosely over their leg. ' The hand of Jerrard ' became pretty famous, often copied, but never mastered. (Sorry Jerrard if you're reading this, there's only 5000 people a month reading this page). 😇

Well, having tried to leave the backpackers at least half a dozen times, I finally left Hotel Callafornia this morning. It was time. Broadly speaking, I shall circumnavigate South Africa in an anti clockwise direction. When possible on tracks, keeping off main roads. I've got mountain ranges, salt pans and the kalahari Desert to look forward to. Not to mention Rorks Drift! !! Can't wait for that.....I can hear the Zulu chanting already.

So I jumped on the Chonda this morning with my Camelbak water bladder, one bag, tent, doss bag, some bike tools, tyre foam and a few clothes. Can't carry much, I simply don't have the space. And off I went heading for Paarl, some 45 km east. I had an absolute barrel of laughs sticking to the 70 km 'run the new Chonda engine speed.' As every single massive truck over took me, blowing their horns and I suspect communicating with the international middle finger. (Sorry for slowing you down chaps, but it's just the way the Chonda and I roll.)😊

Anyway, past Paarl and off the big boys road and headed to Wellington, I don't have GPS, but Andy at the backpackers did lend me a map. Which proved handy, as the last time I 'left ', I successfully circumnavigated bloody Cape Town. Doing a 207 km big circle and ended up where I started. !! Wouldn't mind, but it took all day and had to make the excuse that I'd forgot my laptop!!! Oops.

Where was I ? Between Wellington and next town, Ceres, are the Cederberg Mountains, going up to about 3,000 ft. A pass was made in 1849, called Bains Kloof.He certainly wasn't Roman, this road has more twists and turns, than a drunk belly dancer. The poor little Chonda not so much struggling, but he didn't have his happy face on. I filled the bike up in Ceres and it would seem I have a range of 300 km. Tomorrow I'll buy a 5 lt can, extending that to about 450 km. That should please Chonda....longer days. The road standard was good, the traffic light and the views stunning. (The photos don't do it justice ).

A little bit concerned about my fuel range and the lack of petrol stations pending, I stopped at Op die Berg. Basically it had half a dozen buildings, on a cross roaf,one of which being a petrol station. First bike problem, the petrol cap doesn't actually keep the petrol in the tank. The paint on my plastics has peeled off, as petrol seeped out. Nothing dangerous there then, with a nice hot engine for it to drip on. Getting one of those plastic temporary caps tomorrow.

Past all the vine yards, mountains towering over me, on I pushed, as the tarmac ended. 48 km to Oasis, the sign read. This was now Cederberg Mountains for real now. Dirt, dust, gravel and a shed load of leapords. "O joy ", I thought. Chonda seemed pretty good on the gravel and really enjoyed the blast. Finally we arrived at Cederberg Oasis at 5 pm. It's some sort of ranch, that's been converted into a Backpackers and camping place. There's a number of off road bikers here on mainly KTMs (no other Chonda's) all on their own challenges.

Well I'll try to upload some photos. Remember I'm spending a lot of money and missing out on Christmas. Crossing salt pans and the kalahari Desert to raise donations for wounded servicemen. Please click the Help For Heroes logo top right. Make a donation. ...these men and women have lost arms and legs. Lets give them the best Christmas present. A chance of a fully functional life.

Please Share this page as much as you can.

Will x

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Oyibo

Back here in the UK we have a mulit cultural society. We are conditioned to interact in a certain manner.We have, what we are told, is a ' Socially Evolved Society '. In Nigeria it is a Mono Cultural Society. Yes there are over 500 tribes and languages. With three main ones are, Ibo in the west, Hausa in the north and Yoruba in the east.And whilst there are two main religions, Islam and Christianity, culturally, they all sing off the same hymn sheet.( See what I did there.....comedy genius.)

I say all this,as what is ' normal ' here, isn't ' normal ' there. And visa versa.So I wanted to share some mentality differences and some of the incidents born of those differences.Remember, I am the only white man.

" Oyibo ".

All across the African continent I was shouted at, sometimes in a very friendly manner. Sometimes children flocked around me. Sometimes it was with utter contempt. The names I was called all had one thing in common.....they meant 'white man'.

In Nigeria, despite all the different tribal languages and English being spoken to varying degrees. From absolutely nothing to fluent. 'Oyibo' means ' white man '. And the mentality I constantly met was one of interest and intrigue. But also, one of ' you are white, you are rich and i want your money'. Political Correctness does not exist and so honesty flourishes.The people speak much more openly than we do in the UK.Can you imagine a black man shouting out " hey white man " ? And the response being " hi black man " . All said tongue and cheek. But for them, there is no reason to know my actually name, as I am the only white man. So, Oyibo is enough.

Nigeria, along with all of Africa is completely informal, by our standards. Complete strangers will speak to you, as if long lost relatives. People will speak to you briefly at a bar and then just join you at your table.And speak as if you've always known each other.( One of my biggest cultural shocks, has actually been coming back to the UK.And back to everyone ignoring each other.By comparison.) But with this is both good and bad. As in my experience, 90 % had an agenda. An agenda as I was ' Oyibo '. It was to a point that when someone befriended me and sat at my table, I was counting the seconds till he or she wanted something from me.All the pleasant and friendly chat was usually just a sales pitch at the end of the day. But once you know it's a game and don't let on that you do, you are empowered.

Cigarettes and normally Benson & Hedges, are 200 N a packet. ( 260 N to £1.) Your new ' friend' sits at your table and within 2 minutes he will have helped himself to a fag.( Americans reading this. No happy, happy men are involved in this moment.! ) .He then will order a Star beer, costing 300 N. Chat with you like you're his best mate.Tell you he would love to see the UK and when are you going to invite him over. When he gets told its not possible, he gets up and moves onto his next bar. It's cost you a beer, as it's a tab on your table and a couple of cigarettes. Fifteen minutes later, the next one comes over and befriends you......

....' you are white, you are rich and I want your money..'.......

Whilst these moments are both frequent, at almost conveyor belt speed.They don't actually cost too much, yes on principle its wrong. By our social standards. But i promise you, you will never change the African mentality, of how they view the white man.There is a view that we some how magically just have lots of money.Education and hard work are never part of the formula. Just that ' we ' have money.The end.

But I can also confirm, that I have also been invited to tables by complete strangers and treated like a celebrity or something. What ever drink I wanted and ....ahum....just point at which women you want.!!
Women in Africa are completely subservient to the man. Completely.Not only do they look after the home and the children.They make the food, Yam Yam for example, taking hours of pounding with a large pole.Into a tree trunk. To make it eatable.( Its a bit like potato and glue.) Then the women are expected to do ' any lifting in the bush '.You will see them walking with huge stacks of 10 ft long wooden logs on their heads, for miles, back to the mud huts. The men seem to all gather under large trees and stay in the shade.Often drinking Palm Wine.

I did say our cultures and society are very different. Almost to the point of being opposite. Yet, in Africa, it works just fine.

As ' Oyibo ', i did have more than one incident involving guys ramming their elbows into my back, whilst in a club near my hotel.I put up with it twice and then told them what I thought.Which seemed to surprise them.It's a fine line between standing up for decency and being perceived as an arrogant ' Oyibo'.But in my experience, you do it right, other Nigerians come to your aid.

Whilst in the same club, I was invited over to table. The guy who invited me kept getting up to have his picture taken, mainly with girls. Turned out he was from Ethiopia, spoke fantastic English and had just won Big Brother Africa.The man next to him sent a message over to me, apparently he was a famous DJ in Calabar. And when he found out my motorbike story, wanted to interview me.

That night as I walked the 200 m back to my hotel.At the bottom of the road I was staying on, lay some logs. ( Which means illegal road block.) Knife in my right boot, but with alcohol in my body....out jumped two men with huge machetes!!! Machetes raised and shouting. I lowered my head slightly, turned my empty hands towards them and just said " Oyibo". " How's it going, are you security "  ? ( Local Vigilantes. ) They said ' yes '. Accepted I wasn't a threat and walked me to my hotel. Me talking all the way.....and no, I have no idea what i was saying. I just wanted to keep them on side. One of them scrapped his machete along the railings of the metal Hotel fence and shouted the security inside.Certainly could have been a different moment, but it all worked out in the end.It helps if you know how they think. Or at least try to.

Next blog is about how I sold my little motorbike in Nigeria and the final bribes I paid to get out of the country.

I've put myself through al ot and cost myself my home, all possessions and now my savings.I'm not claiming the dole and am living off my Overdraft. Daily I risked my life all across Africa. I did it to raise awareness and donations for wounded servicemen.They sit in wheel chairs....without legs. Help me to help them stand, stand with dignity. Please click the Help for Heroes logo top right. Make a donation please.

Will



Thursday, 6 March 2014

Jumbo gets his 9mm out! !!

Tongue and cheeck with the title, but non the less,yet another moment in a week packed full of them.

I comsidered how to write about the ten days in Calabar. So many incidents and just one blog entry. So I'm splitting it into two. And going to give you a rounded account of each incident.

During the course of my time in Nigeria, I saw lots of armed police and army. Running check points and pulling vehicles over. Basically the uniformed police are close to Mafia, in standards of corruption. Using their official position to get money out of anyone they can. A white man is rich remember, and is guaranteed to be approached for money. Who you going to call? ( who said Ghost Busters ??)

The Army will expect a tip as you go through their check points. Despite there being a big sign,that says, "Do not give money to the soldiers.  It is an offence. "

The least corrupt and most professional are Immigration Officers. They are the first and last Nigerians you will meet. The ones I met did their jobs very well. Were educated, polite but firm. And simply want to ensure you are allowed in Nigeria. And were proud to represent their country. They can stop, search and arrest you. And arguably have more power than the average police man.

Twice during my stay in Nigeria, plain clothed Immigration Officers took me to one side. Wanting to check my visa and reasons for being in Nigeria. I'm not hard to find. I was the only white man I saw !!

The Immigration Officer Incident

My hotel was a decent standard and had a bar directly opposite that did food. So of a night I'd pop over. The owner,Otwo,was SCID. ( Plain clothed cop.) As was his Manager's brother,Jumbo. Who based himself there,with the police radio and responded to calls. He was armed with a 9mm Browning, tucked inside the right side of his belt. Under his shirt.

One night, whilst sat outside in the bar. A Immigration Officer came directly upto me. Identified himself and asked to see my visa. We went to my hotel, just 30m away. I asked him to show his ID card in front of the Reception staff. Who made a note of his name and number. (Ada Stevens.)

After ten minutes of repeatedly looking at my visa. He said ' my boss wants to see you. I'm going to have to arrest you.  You should have left a few days ago.' I told him my visa was in date and would leave when I wanted to. ( First red flag. A hotel member of staff had said almost an identical sentence to me.)

He repeated himself and then said.  Or...' you can pay for my taxi and i will leave '. That's code for give me money.  I gave him 2,000N .He left my room and I returned to my table at the bar. Jumbo was sat next to me,along with a few other locals. I was seathing,on principle. He'd either acted illegally and got money out of me. Or it was a fake ID.

Not 5 minutes later.....who walks back in the bar??? The 'immigration officer '! At that exact moment I knew it was a con. I jumped up, and shouted Jumbo.  "You're a lier and a thief'.I said to him. I said ' you are a fake '!! To which he ran...myself, Jumbo with his 9mm out and some of the bar staff in hot pursuit.

He ran straight to my hotel. How good of him. Within seconds he was on his knees. Jumbo had his 9mm Browning against his forehead. Demanding to know the truth. They spoke in tribal language. So I didn't know what was being said.  Jumbo just nodding to me and saying ' he admits it'. I took a nice big swing and slapped Ada Stevens. Aka Immigration Officer across the face with the back of my hand.

I was fuming but buzzing at the same time. As always, these things happen very quickly. Yet slowly at the same time.

(As a heads up.  I at this stage,thought he'd got a fake ID. And was a bogus Immigration Officer. )

Into the back of Jumbos Honda Accord. Me to the right of the thief. Jumbo driving.  Well...I took one look at him. And before I knew it,I'd punched him square in the face.  His lip burst,the blood splattering all over Jumbos kneck and head rest. The back of the seat and my seat. The thiefs lip completely split.

Off we went to the Calabar Police Station. 

Ooops!!! Turned out he was a genuine Immigration Officer. An official of Nigeria. But had seen my name on a hotel residents sheet in his office.  And had decided to do some private work. Using his position to exstaut money. ( Myself and jumbo both think he had a contact at the hotel. )

The 2000N went into 'Evidence'.Read beer money for the police.  The Immigration Officer tried to get out of it. But was locked up in jail for four days and released to appear in court.

Not wanting any hassle myself.  I wrote a letter to the police requesting all charges to be dropped. Which was accepted.

So just one of many incidents in one week in Calabar Nigeria.  Not all Nigerians are bad. Far from it. I didn't catch that con man. ' We ' caught him. And boy it felt good.

Remember I've crossed thirteen countries.  Two continents.  Lived in  the Sahara Desert, the jungle and the bush. All to raise awareness and donations for wounded servicemen.  Servicemen who sit in wheel chairs.

If you like what I've been doing, the sacrifices I've made....Please please please click the help for heroes logo.

Thank you

Will x



Friday, 28 February 2014

Calabar

Calabar....what to say. Well, if there were a Head Quarters for scams, lies, blags, con men, racism and violence. Calabar is where it would be !!
You are not a person with a name. You are simply ' the white man,you are rich and I want your money' . At no stage was I in the minority,  I was simply ' the only white man '.
I was in a half decent hotel in Calabar. It had wifi, all be it intermittent, due to the power cuts. Which was on ,off , like Morse Code.
I was in Calabar to buy my Visa for Cameroon.  The border of which,  was about two hours away. Cameroon,  like Nigeria,  has a lot of armed illegal road blocks. They have logs across the road, then long planks of wood with six inch nails coming out. Attached to rope. If you try to go through the road block, the rope is pulled, the plank with nails blocks the road. You ride over the nails, the bike tyres will be shredded.  Then the vigilante come at you,armed with machetes.
You are not in the UK. You are not in Europe. Nobody is coming to help you. There are no police to call. It's kill or be killed.
Which brings me onto a very tough decision I had to make. My bike needs fuel, petrol.  I need fuel,it's called donations. Due to hitting saturation point, my challenge has barely had a donation in six weeks. 
Whilst in Calabar, I decided that to risk my life daily. And risk it I did,was futile. The whole point of the Challenge was to raise money for our wounded servicemen.  And despite mine and others best efforts. We could not get the Challenge into the national media.
So with tears in my eyes,I decided to sell my bike in Nigeria. And make my way back to the UK.  Total raised so far.....nearly £7,500. Not too shabby. With this,we have definitely helped to improve the lives of our wounded servicemen. Many of whom are without arms and legs. Can you imagine that ??
"No money for you ",say our politicians! ! All whilst they give away £12,000,000,000 of our British Tax payers money. To countries like India and China. Both of which have Space Programmes! ! Disgusts me to the very core.
I am going to do two more blogs. Next one will be the numerous incidents I was involved in. Whilst in Calabar. To give you a taster.  They involve constant scams. Demands of money from Police.  A 9mm Browning pistol at someones head.Machetes at mid night. Selling my bike to an under cover cop. Oo the list goes on.
The "thank you's " are coming.
Will

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Nigeria. A land of contrast.

Nigeria I'm told, is the 8th wealthiest country on the planet.You will need to check that. I am not the Discovery Channel. Yet,I guess, in my own way, I am. Of a fashion :)

Abuja is only twenty odd years old. Purpose built to be Nigerias new capital. It's new found wealth,born of huge oil reserves. A capital city to reflect and represent that.

The roads are good, the water is always available, as is electricity. When it does fail,lots of diesel generators kick in. All privately owned by the given business. There are western type food chains. Small, but modern shopping centres, bars and all you'd expect say in Europe. Most are high end. The prices being at the least, the same as Europe. At the least. Bottle of beer...? Upto £5 !! Small Pizza and Fanta ?? £10 .All are crawling with security. Scanners and metal detectors at the entrances. And the Army and Police are never far away. :)

Outside of the bad. Which I'm coming to. Almost all the Nigerians have been very respectful. Very. Always calling me ' Sir ' or even ' Master '. Upon arriving anywhere, I receive,  ' Sir you are welcome '. All the time. Did you expect that ? I didn't.

Nigeria, on that front, it has been a absolute pleasure. I hope to return to Abuja. They always like a white man to front a business. It gives them more credibility. So you never know. I'm interested.

But it's definitely not all roses and cottages. That's for sure. Illegal road blocks !!! Huge tree trunks in the road. Planks of wood with six inch nails in them. Men sometimes armed with rifles and machetes. Looking to get money. But you don't see white men. Ever!! They are in Abuja or Calabar. So when I turn up, they shout at me. Annoyed I've slipped through their road block. I do it by waiting for a truck,van or finally,a car. And fly through at the last second, on the blind side.

A blog is a quick snap shot. I can't share everything. But Nigeria is certainly not all bad. I've liked the mentality I've met and the majority of the people.

Road Signs. Imagine trying to drive around your own country without any road signs ! There are non here...zero. ..narda...non. 600 km in two days. And a mixture of the best roads in Africa. And the absolute worst. No GPS, no map and no bloody road signs. Imagine that! !!! Make it easy for me Nigeria. ..Cheers !!

Long story short. Between yesterday and today, I've covered around 600 km. Not much ?? Well today I went totally off the grid. Really for the crack. There was a proper road. But I just wanted to cut across country. And off my home made map. Just going on less than a dust road. Much less. Close to just guessing really. Following my nose. Through bush villages and jungle. Thick jungle now. Everyone just gob smacked. But for some reason the illegal road block men, cheered me. Three separate road blocks. I salute them and they salute back. No idea what it's all about. But it's worked so far. :) Fingers.

Until, I came across a dried river. Completely in the middle of nowhere. No idea even now. All dirt dust and rock. And as I entered the river, half a dozen men jumped up. They were all digging. No idea again. All were shouting and un be known to me, they had a Bamboo blockade.  But...here's the but. They ran to lift it. And were prepared to help push my bike,up the dried river bank.

As non were armed and I was. I actually stopped. Not a great move maybe. But we spoke, middle of the jungle and their English was good. And that's rare in Nigeria. I explained my story. They seemed to like it a lot. Asked for a gift. I said I had my own money problems. ( I'm at £500 and it's going fast.) But gave 50 Naira. About 20 p. We all shook hands, which is done over hand and a mutual finger click. And I continued along the tiny dirt track. ( Lucky. )

After several hours I hit tarmac. No idea where I was. But logic said I was going in the right direction. Not one minute later, my chain came off my bike. Stretched loads by the past 100++ km of off roading. It was hanging.

A lad pointed me to a hut which fixed the usual Chinese bikes. I was instantly surrounded by a good dozen men. The atmosphere was mild aggression towards me. I kept my cool and was polite. But didn't show the worry I had inside. The eldest and largest began to grill me. Quickly telling me. ... " your people colonised us ". He wasn't a happy bunny.  ( My knife strapped to the inside of my left arm. )  I said I was old, but not that old and wasn't there. And asked how he was. He said..." ahhh but you received some of the benefits. .."!!

I did consider mentioning my country had also been colonised, by the Romans ( Italians), the Normans, ( the French ), the Vikings, ( the Danish).....and of course three Germanic tribes. The Angles, the Saxon and little known Judd. ( Poor Judd never get a mention. ) But the moment didn't seem too right for a history lesson.  And just said "...well its getting poorer now....if that helps "  To  which he said " good ". And offered me water.

Bike wise. O have a guess....I broke the frame! !! Luggage rack that is. A number of bolts rattled free too. And the rear suspension bottoms out a lot. I actually don't think the shocker has gone again. Just that with the weight of all my kit and the limited travel, the tyre sometimes hits the fender. Photos below.

Bit of a long one today. I'm in a town called Aplapum. A bush town. No roads or banks or anything. The very basic Guesthouse costing 2,000 N.Electicity after 7pm. Stand in a bucket and throw water on yourself, for your ' shower ' ! ive eaten chicken and rice. With pepper sauce. And enjoyed it. Very spicy.No white men in these parts. That's for sure. Meal was 500 N. Restaurant owner very pleased I complemented the food so much. They expert white men to be eating something else.

Lots happens I can't put in this blog.
Photos of the village bush track. Good 100 km worth. Will check exact distance. I think further. Women washing clothes and child in the river. My bathroom and shower buckets. And me dripping with swet and really cool helmet hair. ( dont be rude.) Writing this and going to sleep. Will upload in Calabar. Via wifi, when I find it . Phone has gone all bold on me. :)

But I am doing all of this for wounded servicemen. Men and women without arms. Without legs ! Can you begin to imagine ? Sat in wheel chairs. Abandonded by the polititions who sent them to war. " NO MONEY FOR YOU "!! all whilst they write a cheque for £12,000,000,000... in so called ' aid '!!!  Get your priorities right.!!!! Stop giving money to India and China. Who both have space programmes. British tax payers money should be spent on the British. .....

....or is it correct that we leave our servicemen in with no legs,no dignity,in wheel chairs ??

Help me to help them. X

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Calabar tomorrow and get the Cameroon Visa. Should be in Cameroon in 48 hrs.

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Will x