31-Mar-2010 -- Due to the tradition in Nigeria to officially defer public holidays, which occur on Satur- or Sundays, to the next Monday, Nigeria celebrated “Democracy Day” (Sunday, 30 May 2010) on Monday, 31 May. Thus, we had a long weekend and took the chance to approach to the confluence 9° North, 3° East. We estimated that 320 km asphalt- and proper laterite and 70 km bush road for one direction and some 5 km distance to walk to the Confluence required at least two days.
We (Christian Moessmer on KTM Adventure 990R, Clive Ecob with Mercedes G, and me with my BMW GS1100 R) started from our lifecamp at Lagos Victoria Island on 30 May at 8:30 a.m. and had to cross through Lagos from the southern coast-line to the northern outskirts of Lagos behind Sango-Otta. Along this distance of approximately 60 km you always have to expect to be blocked and stopped in a traffic-jam or go-slow. Next to the chaotic traffic and deep and heavy potholes, the traffic-jam can waste your positive mood already at the beginning of a trip.
This time we cracked the jackpot! At Sango-Otta we were stuck in a blockage of the road. In one hour Clive and I crept some 200 meters, while Christian sneaked through the traffic-jam. But I waited always next to the road for Clive until the traffic started to move again. Just then, my BMW broke down and the engine switched off. No ignition, but light and electricity at the cockpit. Not just that I had all luck to drive just behind Clive and not to get lost in the friendly atmosphere of a traffic-jam, I was even more luckily that I stopped just in front of the yard of the local police station. Clive parked at the petrol station just twenty meters further away and helped me to push the bike into the police yard. Some minutes later we continued our trip – the Mercedes Jeep had from now on 2 passengers - and we met Christian at the former Julius-Berger Camp at Itori, where he had waited for more than one hour, not knowing what happened at Sango-Otta.
Along the trip via Abeokuta, Okoka, to Saki, Christian always drove ahead of us to the next meeting point until we caught up and after a short lunch break and purchase of some beer, we searched for the way through Shetu. Although we had GPS on board, we could not find the way directly, but a teacher helped us. On the passenger seat of Christian's KTM he showed us the right way through the narrow alleys.
At Saki we branched towards north-west and followed the bush-road to Gwanara to approach the Confluence from the South (our first attempt some weeks ago to approach the Confluence from the East failed due to the bad road condition of the road from Ilesha-Ibariba to Gwanara). Some 5 kilometers close to the Confluence, we left the bush-road and continued approaching the Confluence across an open grass-savannah until we reach the bush-houses of a farmer-family. They watched us from a distance at the beginning, as we passed the small estate but returned after some meters back to the ruin of a bush-house where grass was flat and firewood lay around. Cold beer, fire, and dinner out of tins were quickly arranged and we started to relax at sun-down.
The distance of our "host family" reduced at their growing curiosity about our appearance. As the eldest father and other men returning from field works passed our camp, we invited the elders to a cold beer. After a short time the remaining family members joined us. In a spirit of hospitality we were allowed to hold the youngest baby in our arms. We gave cigarettes, beer, and whiskey and the family members moved closer until we were sitting together at the campfire. Only after unequivocal statements that all drinks and cigarettes were finished and we wanted to sleep, we could have our peace. But another group of family members came to visit our camp in the night and in particular Christian's KTM. Furthermore they wanted to start a conversation with Clive, but he refused any discussion about any remaining beer and whiskey. Christian slept inside his tent and did not recognize anything anymore since he was exhausted from the motorbike trip. I remained more or less undisturbed as I slept on the ground directly in front of Christian's KTM and they did not step on me.
At the next morning we started the walk of about three kilometers after a short breakfast at around 7:30 a.m.. Except for a short distance of one hundred meters, we easily walked through the open bush savannah and found the Confluence with ease. It proved more difficult to try to explain to a father with his children what we had just found. But Clive was able to explain to him the operation of the camera and our "Summit Photo" could be shot without self-timer.
The entire return trip went smoothly. After we had dissolved the camp, we gave the remaining food to our host family and left around 10:00 a.m. After less than seven hours we reached the Camp Life in Lagos again.