• And the winner goes to… A year in reflection December 31st, 2010

    I started the year learning to surf in Morocco and I’m finishing it drinking a lot of beer in Cameroon. Between then I’ve crossed 14 countries in Africa and cycled about 12,000km, collecting more than a few stories along the way. Here is a review of some of the highlights, lowlights and other interesting observations from my year on the road. If there is a category you’d like to add please post a comment to let me know. Happy New year.

    Most atmospheric place: Harper, Liberia. A town full of war-ravaged buildings, surrounded by beautiful palm-fringed beaches.

    North from Harper

  • To go or not to go to Togo? October 20th, 2010

    That was the question I was left asking myself. My passport had been stamped out of Ghana and now at the Togolese border post I had a problem. Obtaining the visa I needed to enter  was not going to be such a simple procedure. It wasn’t helping matters that the burly officer on duty refused to accept my handshake nor look me in the eye as he stood chewing and spitting a stick of cane sugar. A nice welcome back into Francophone Africa.

  • Out of money October 17th, 2010

    After paying for a second boat across Lake Volta I was short of money. It wasn’t that the boat was expensive, merely I miscalculated how much money would be needed for the remainder of my time in Ghana. This is something I deal with in every country; calculating how much money is needed until I reach another ATM machine? The trouble is not every ATM machine I find accepts my card or works, and I sometimes naively assume that in more developed countries, like Ghana, ATMs will be available in small towns in the provinces. A currency like the Ghana Cedi is pretty valueless once you cross a border, so having a lot left over is a bit of a schoolboy error in the traveller’s manual.

  • Journey on the Yapei Queen October 16th, 2010

    Many Ghanians would disagree with me if I said Sunday is a good day to travel in their country. This is because most people go to Church. Religion is a serious affair here and Christianity clearly dominates. One of these Sundays I will accept the invite to attend a service, but so far I’m doing quite well at using them as travelling days. The roads are far from empty, just a little less chaotic.

  • Faking it: Visas in Accra October 14th, 2010

    The best thing about the journey from Cape Coast to Accra is the fruit being sold at the roadside. Lines of stalls overflowing with pineapples and watermelons, and carts filled with fresh coconuts. Forget the glutinous starchy fufu and oily soups, I reckon I could survive on fresh fruit alone in Ghana, and many other African countries for that matter.

    Coconut sellers

  • Malaria bites October 11th, 2010

    He was lying on the hospital bed with his hands on his forehead and a drip protruding from his wrist. Thirty minutes previously I’d received a phone call from a man to say “your friend collapsed in the Internet Cafe and is now in hospital. Please come!”.

    Hiromu had seemed fine the night before. After saying goodbye 9 months ago in Morocco, we met again the previous evening and had plenty to talk about. He too is cycling to South Africa, having started his journey in Istanbul last year, so I’m hoping we can make a plan together. Now he looked pale and in pain as I tried to decipher his Japanese in the accident and emergency ward.

  • Great Cyclist Arrives In Ghana October 7th, 2010

    Such a modest headline don’t you think? In an exclusive interview I took time out of my ever so busy schedule to speak to Ghana’s National Newspaper – the Daily Guide. Not sure I will reach South Africa by the middle of 2011.

    Ghana press 

  • Forts and fishing boats September 29th, 2010

    Ten years ago I might have taken the room, but cramped dormitories with narrow beds and the aroma of half-a-dozen young men sleeping off a hangover have less appeal these days. I happily paid the extra Cedi (less than $1) and found a single room away from the beach. Welcome to Cape Coast, capital of the Central region of Ghana and one of the country’s major tourist destinations.

    The ride here was described to me as lovely, but lethal. It was neither, although I wished I’d had metal hands to slam through the window of  a taxi that pulled over in front of me shortly after leaving Takoradi. There is only one coastal road and it is busy.

  • When force matters September 25th, 2010

    In the end it required four of us to remove it. I’d struggled for two hours previously with an adjustable spanner in one hand and chain whip in the other and got no-where. I was in danger of doing myself an injury. The advice I’d been told about removing my bike’s rear sprocket was true. The thing wouldn’t budge without tremendous force. Two men held the wheel, another the spanner and the biggest of the four of us thrust down on the chain-whip. It finally gave and I unscrewed the dagger-edged piece from the hub.

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