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January 26, 2013 / samwilson60

Out the other side

Leaving Abuja took longer than expected – we’d carefully plotted the route but by our third lap of the mosque had to concede that it was out of date. Eventually we wound our way through the roadworks and diversions onto the ring road and from there it was a breeze. The traffic was light compared with the other direction, we were wary of the suburbs but none of them turned into anything like what we’d seen on the other side of the city, and even the tarmac remained for the most part intact.

Before we knew it we’d reached Makurdi and were relaxing into Nigeria a little. Had we been wrong not to give it more of a chance, perhaps? Returning to our discussions of what we’d like to see if we decided to do more than just transit, we remembered a primate sanctuary in the Gashaka Gumpti national park that sounded well worth a visit. We’d already started to overshoot it, though, and had since learned of a smaller but similar initiative just off our route to Cameroon. This seemed like a nice compromise and a justifiable diversion. Sadly it was scuppered by our normally impeccable navigating. We took a turn off the main road and at the time were not convinced but fairly confident it was the one – before we’d had time to check we passed some ‘revenue collectors’ (more guys with big nail-covered sticks) and were reluctant to turn back in their direction. It was getting on anyway, so we decided to find somewhere to pull off and camp on this stretch and make sure we were headed in the right direction by morning. Hours later and well after dark, we were still looking for somewhere to pull off for the night. By the time we packed it in and camped in a burned-out hedge, we’d gone far too far to turn back – we still didn’t know exactly where we’d pop out but were sure that it wouldn’t be far from the border.

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So as not to block the track, we and the tent were in the hedgerow in front of the truck overnight. In retrospect we should perhaps have blocked the track.

After a much longer day than anticipated and a very early start, the last thing we wanted to do was deal with leaving one country and entering the next but we were not up for driving round in circles either and almost without realising it, found ourselves with only one obvious option – to Cameroon it was.

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