zaterdag 25 februari 2012

Lost and found

"Here I am, sitting in a police office again"
That's what I thought when I went into the big police building here in Ouaga. The story started like this, last sunday Anita and me split up in Segou, Mali. She was driving with 2 other overlanders towards the Dogon country, as it is so beautifull she couldn't miss it, and I would go to Ouaga, Burkina, to get my visa for Ghana and do some work on the bike. Nothing set in concrete, just 'we'll meet up in a few days to a week, I'll call you'.
But already the first night in Bobo, Burkina, I couldn't call her with my Malian number and also with a new Burkinabe number I had no luck in contacting her. The following days I sent her some e-mails, but I was well aware that in Dogon country, there is no internet and in big parts, no telephone reception. So, by thursday, I started to get a little nervous. I had no contact details for Thomas or Matias, with who she was traveling, and I knew the piste from Dogon to the border is hardgoing, because I did that track last year.
So by friday afternoon all sorts of scenarios were playing in my head, especialy since I knew this was the last day her visa for Burkina was valid, she had to cross today. I felt I needed to do something, so there I was, in the central police office, asking them to phone the border post to hear if they saw her pass. After a few phonecalls, they informed me that she had not crossed the border, and they would keep me informed if she turned up.
Back in the auberge, Guillaume, the owner and also a biker, called his contacts in the Dogon, and found out she had been spotted on wednesday, together with the two others, this was a huge relieve, but the big surprise came one hour later, when my phone rang and it was Anita, saying she was at the border and she coudn't realy talk now, but she would be in Ouaga the next day. What had happened: turns out that with the troubles in Mali and with huge numbers of refugees coming into Burkina, there was actually a great amount of police and armed forces around the border, and they went out to search and found Anita camping in the bush near the border. How they found her so quick is a mistery, but I guess it's their job, right. It certainly must have been quiete scary, she on her own, somewhere in the bush, sudenly surrounded by police with machine guns, they took her to a safer place and let her call me on their phone. . Next day she arrived here by noon, telling me another chilling detail: on the way down, she hit a bump in the road too hard, and spun her car 360 degrees around. Too much information for me at that time and I was just very glad she was here safe and with me.
Soon we will travel to Ghana and I will keep her in my sight, something tells me that will be the best for both of us.

maandag 20 februari 2012

Burkina Faso

I got up early to drive to Ouagadougou trying to beat the midday heat.
8 o'clock in the morning
11 o'clock in the morning
Even though it rained for a while, by noon it was brutally hot again, but luckily the toll road from Bobo to Ouaga is in good shape so I arrived safe and well in the capital, where I will spend the rest of the week taking care of the bike and trying to arrange my visa for Ghana and Cameroun.

Fitting the new chain

vrijdag 17 februari 2012

Things are clear!

Remember I told you all how I believe everything happens for a reason. Well, now everything has become clear. While this thing just kept on going, and the police and procureur just kept me waiting, last week  a girl with a landrover drove into the auberge, and immediately I was lost. One week later, me and Anita are a couple and she has realy got me through this ordeal.She is traveling to Namibia and as this is where I'm going we will take on this adventure together.
 This morning, it was my last chance to get the bike back before she had to leave, and after waiting for 2 hours at the 'tribunal' the miracle happened. They said I would get my bike, camera and gps back.

Now I'm sitting in the auberge and still it hasn't sunk in, I'm free. In one hour I will pack my stuff and leave the place where I stayed for 5 weeks and then we're off to the Segou festival and monday towards Burkina. Bye bye Mali.
Thanks for all the support! Next blog from Burkina! 

Update: Just arrived in Bobo-Dioulasso,Burkina Faso, tomorrow I will be in Ouagadougou to arrrange some visa, work on the bike and wait for Anita, Thomas (Swiss in a 4x4 van) and Matias/Matea (Slovenian in a van) to arrive. I'm just very glad to be out of Mali, and in the next weeks will travel downwards towards Nigeria and Cameroun.

vrijdag 3 februari 2012


After my friends left the auberge for another bush excursion to a waterfall near Sikasso, I thought it was time to make that instructional video of 'how to pack the bike for overland travel' that I was planning for a long time. For that I needed a peacefull and quite place outdoors preferably without people staring at me. This prooved very hard to find in a capital of millions, and the day before I didn't find such a place around the auberge at the riverbank, there's always people around, lots of people. So today I drove 15 km out of town towards the airport. It still took me an hour but finally I found a reasonable spot behind some trees in a field. The video only took 15 minutes to make and just when I was packing the big tripod and camera, a complete delegation of military personnel turned up. This is a link to the video:
how to pack your bike
  About 10 people, with different uniformes and even some white people with big camera's. They didn't looked too surprised to see me and the whole group kinda ingnored me, but the big chef 'de la gendarme de l'aeroport' immediately confiscated my passport and camera, telling me I was in a restricted area. He sent an armed guard on the back of my bike to escort me to the gerdarmerie. There followed 4 hours of interrogation, me trying to explain the term 'instructional video' in vain, and then they escorted me to my auberge, as I told them I was sick and needed my medicine. Next day I reported back to the station at 9 am, to be told at 1 pm to come back the next day, my camera was still being examined by the technical labo and my passport still conficated.
Today it took a turn for the worst, after waiting for 8 hours going from one high ranking official to another, they actually locked me up. This was at the ' service investigation judicielle'.
The only reason I was able to type this is because I convinced the doctor I got a medical problem so they had to bring me back to the auberge for my medicine.
I have to present myself tomorrow at 9, hopefully I can contact the Belgian embassy by then.
Update: almost 1 week later and still no real solution, they keep telling me I don't have to worry, because I didn't commit any serious crimes, but even though the consul of the Belgian embassy does a good job, and me turning up every day, things just seem to take forever. For somebody like me, who was impatient all off his life, this is a big lesson and I'm trying to look at it from the positive side as I'm a strong believer that 'everything happens for a reason' in life. Things will become clear very soon.