11-Sep-2004 -- Saturday at 5:50 am, Uli, our driver Matthew and myself left our camp in Abuja. Our aim was to visit Confluence 11N 10E, and the following day 10N 10E.
This trip was originally planned with Armin and his family. The night before I met Uli at the grocery store. He had just returned from a lengthy vacation in Germany. Uli was the one who had introduced the Degree Confluence Project to us and has been eagerly watching all the latest visits recorded in Nigeria. Uli congratulated me for all the visits we made. It turned out that his next proposed visit to a Confluence was near Keffi and had been visited the week before from us bikers as well. Uli in despair mentioned that his great aim was to visit confluence 10N 10E, it had something magic for him, and if possible we could spare this one for him. Having already planned to visit this Confluence and leaving early the next morning, there was no option but to invite Uli to come along. How we would manage I did not yet know at this stage, since we had planned to visit the Confluence with the Enduro bikes and Uli rides a mountain bike (with disk brakes).
The next morning did not start so well. Armin's son fell ill during the night and he decided to stay at home with the family. During the reloading of our provisions, I dropped a case of beer and mistakenly broke most of it. In this area of the world this is seen as a crime.
We, Uli and myself, still managed an early start. We travelled on the A234 to Keffi and then further to Akwanga where we followed the A3 to Gimi on the Jos plateau via Jos to Bauchi. At Bauchi, we turned onto the road leading to Ningi. Our map reflected a route through a village called Madeki and thereafter a turnoff to Miya. However, we never found this village Madeki, but later found out it was an error from the map. We got to Miya, a small Moslem village, and made inquiries about the way to a village called Shara, but were repeatedly directed into the opposite direction. We had a lengthy and nerve-consuming discussion with the villagers regarding the way to this village Shara. The confusion arose because there is another larger village called Zakara nearby and everybody thought we wanted to go there from our pronunciation. We were shown through the village eventually onto the way to Shara.
A kilometre outside this village we parked our vehicle and offloaded our bike and bicycle. Uli was still very energetic and left earlier, I took my time but we reached Shara more or less at the same time. From Shara onwards we faced two major problems, the first was that nobody spoke any English, and secondly, there had been heavy rainfalls the past weeks in this part of Nigeria and vast areas were still under flood. It proved to be very difficult to manage the bike in these muddy conditions. Uli with his bicycle had an advantage in these conditions. Several times I got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out. It was therefore no surprise that Uli reached the Confluence ahead of me.
We reached the Confluence just after 2 pm. The sun was out and very hot. Looking at the backtrack, we realized that we made quite a detour to get to the Confluence. We decided to try a shorter route on the way back. We had to cross a stream, which was still in flood. This would have been difficult to cross if not for the help that we received from some friendly people in the nearby village. We crossed some more streams and flooded areas before getting back to Shara again. By this time I had 52 km on the clock and had to wait for Uli. I had a very large crowd of villagers surrounding me and admiring my bike by the time when a very tired Uli arrived. We decided at this point that I should drive to Miya where we had parked our car so that our driver could pick him up outside the village. Matthew, our driver collected Uli, and upon arrival I handed him an ice-cold beer. Uli later confessed, that bottle of beer was the best tasteful beer he had for a long time. We drove back to Bauchi where we stayed for the night. We had a nice meal and a couple of more beers to celebrate our successful visit of the Confluence and prepared for the next day to visit the magical 10/10, as Uli used to say.