Friday, 9 February 2007
The entry to Gabon goes very friendly and hassle free. The road quality is outstanding and also the signs are as good as in Europe again.
Only the entry stamp proves to be a little difficult to get. That one may only be obtained in the next larger city, 30kms after the border crossing.
That itself is not too much of a rarity in Africa. Here however one needs copies of the passport and the entry visa.
Fortunately there is a Copyshop close to the police station and then everything goes smooth.
We spend the night in the hotel of the city and the motorcycles are simply parked at the dancefloor of the in house disco club.
My eye problems fortunately continue to improve. Meanwhile I even developed my own examination method. With the 10 megapixel camera a picture of the eye is taken once a day and then enlarged on the laptop. When you compare the pictures of the different days the healing progress can be observed well. Additionally I do an improvised vision test twice a day with Windows Words and 2 meters of rope.
Strongly decreased inflamation
Saturday, 10 February 07
Today we continues towards Libreville. The roads in Gabon seem to become better from one† kilometer to the other and I can hardly imagine that I am in Central Africa.
Sometimes quick driving around curves even permits a slight scratching with the aluminum box. The roadís grip is beyond imagination.
After hundreds of kilometers on winding dream roads a very special roadsign gets me back into reality.
I have just crossed the Equator and officially entered the southern hemisphere. Surrounded by tropical rain forests and on a road that good it makes you think you are in Italy!
Thus a long-desired dream for me comes true. I have reached the Southern Hemisphere overland on the motorcycle. Already as a small boy I often drove there with the finger on the map.
To be honest, not only as a small boy;)
Sunday, 11 February 2007
After a nice ride through beautiful and damp tropical forests we meet the Gabon river. Powerfully the wide river extends through its valley and the morning fog breaks in the sunlight.
In the afternoon we reach Libreville, the capital of Gabon.
Libreville can be compared well to a European city. There is an excellent infrastructure and the prices are actually alike as with us. Gabon was and still is Africaís model country for successful excolonial politics. By the untiring assistance of France and the clever use of the raw materials the country was highly booming at the end of the 80's.
Nowadays things naturally donít go that well anymore, the prices for raw materials sank at the world market and the stateís taxes for businesses went up to 65%!
Further on, Libreville represents the base of the armed French rapid intervention force for Africa and there is still a lot of military.
Monday, 12 February 2007
In Libreville I need to sort out some things during the next days. I will need to find new tires for the bike to manage the muddy roads in the Congo!
The city is particulary impressing, with their broad boulevards you believe to be on the Cote Azur. Most cars are upper class, and some are registered in the Arab emirates.
I must say, I feel quite comfotable here. If the prices would not likewise remind of the emirates, one could live here very well.
And naturally train. As here at the beach, which looks like a postcard.
Tuesday, 13 February 07
Today I spend visiting all motorcycle shops in Libreville in order to find new tires for my bike. In the Congo, my next country, the rainy season has already started and without sufficient profile on the tires the pistes are a special pleasure. The notorious Ekok Mamfe road in Cameroon, with their partial meter-deep ruts, proved that to me already impressively.
Litteraly in the last shop I make a hit.
The font and back tires are not the same, however they have the right dimension and sufficient profile. I now use a Michelin T63 on the frontwheel and a Michelin Sirac enduro tire on the back. Even if it looks funny, the combination will bring me to South Africa.
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
Today and for the last time on my African journey I drive off to an embassy in order to get a visa. The Congo visa is still missing in my collection and there are still a few fresh sides in the passport.
As I come to the embassy the door is opened for me immediately. I enter the office and in the course of the following discussion the secretary asks me for a letter of invitation letter for Austria! He would like to come and live there and my assistance would be highly appreciated.
As in all such situations, my french suddenly becomes worse and I understand nothing any more. What can be done there, so I get my visa and say good-bye in a very friendly way. In the evening I go for a run and watch the beautiful sunset from the beach. Unfortunately a little lonely, which is the disadvantage if you travel alone.
Thursday, 15 February 07
Libreville more and more develops into a training camp for me. I have never seen such a beautiful beach for running anywhere else. Not even on Hawaii!
In the afternoon I work on the motorcycle, I change the oil and prepare everything for the departure from this beautiful place.
In two days I will cross the border into the Congo.
The Congo will be no country that is easy to cross. The rainy season has already started big time, the piste roads are full of mud and the route national 1, the main road to Brazzaville leads through a rebel area and may be destroyed and closed because of armed conficts.
I will have to cross into the Angolan Exklave Cabinda via the mountains from the north. From there there are two options then, either you drive on muddy and possibly nearly impassable roads over the sand banks of the Congodelta to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and continue to travel from there to Angola, or you take a ship from Cabinda directly to Angola.
In Angola 1500kms of possilby destroyed roads wait to be done. That will presumably represent the most difficult part of the whole journey. After nearly 30 years of civil war, which was only recently ended, vast parts of the country are still full of landmines and mistakes in navigation are to be avoided.
If everything goes well, I will cross the border to Namibia in approximately 15-20 days where my next UNICEF project waits to be visited.
Friday, 16 February 2007
Today we continue to Lambarene. Our small group of overlanders meanwhile already became larger.
Sarah and Steve are on their way to Capetown with their Toyota Landcruiser and we decide to travel together. Likewise Martin joins the team, he is an Englishman and drives a BMW F650 Dakar.
After a winding ride through beautiful landscapes we reach Lambarene in the afternoon.
We place our tents on the lawn in front of the protestant mission, surrounded by oldfashioned brick buildings between which the sisters go their ways in in the afternoon sun.
Saturday, 17 February 2007
Today we visit the famous Albert Schweitzer hospital. Albert Schweitzer, a physician from the Alsas, came to Lambarene with his wife in 1913 and based his first hospital on the land of the local protestant mission. This first hospital consisted of simple bamboo huts and with the years it got imroved step by step.
Among the most important stations of his work was the theory of respecting the value of every form of life, the Nobel Prize of peace 1952 and naturally his engagement against the development and the use of nuclear weapons.
Today the hospital still exists, and it represents one of the best medical stations in Central Africa. Many of the buildings were refurbished and a museum was opened, which gives an interesting idea of the work of Albert Schweitzer.
The treatment of leprosy patients
First vaccinations for the people
Today, the hospital is mainly operated by European physicians, who provide their service voluntarily.
It is great to see that the ideas of this famous man still live on here.
Sunday, 18 February 2007
The piste road towards the Congo begins in Lambarene. Endlessly far the narrow path of the laterit piste pulls itself towards the horizon. The ground is still dry, but I could already see first lightnings on the horizon tonight. Thunderstorms in the south, a safe indication that the rainy season has already began.
Now it is only a question of hours until we hit the first rains and the roads become really difficult.
We spend the evening in the small town of Mouila, in the lodge of a French emigrant, who constantly speaks with himself and thereby gladly stands beside you. From here it is still 100kms up to the border.
Monday, 20 February 2007
When we start in the morning, the sky colludes itself. Black clouds pull over the horizon and heavy thunderstorms come up.
The roads are soaked by the rain and the timber bridges brightly mirror the daylight. Here highest caution is demanded, too much gas and the machine is gone.
Fortunately the rain stops in the afternoon and the road gets better as we reach the border.
The last border post of Gabon is a concrete bunker. The bored soldiers sit in the sun and smoke their cigarettes. Gradually one of the men rises and comes over to open the barrier for us.
We leave Gabon and enter the Congo.