A picture and its history: Play it safe?

A picture and its history: Play it safe?

It is time to leave Nigeria. But how? The border to Cameroon is considered unsafe because the north of the neighbouring country is marked by a smouldering civil war and is notorious for armed robberies and kidnappings.

Therefore, we want to avoid the northern regions at all costs and opt for an alternative, supposedly safer option. From Oron in Nigeria, we want to take a boat directly to Limbé in Cameroon and thus avoid the conflict areas.

In a roundabout way, we get the number of an intermediary. He assures us that he will arrange a safe crossing for us and take care of everything from start to finish.

The port of Oron is bustling and chaotic. We make our way through a busy market to the customs office where we get our passports and Carnet de Passages stamped.

The harbour is full of small boats being loaded and unloaded. Around lunchtime it becomes clear that there is no boat waiting for us. Our fixer John walks up and down the harbour trying to find a boat that can take two passengers and our Tiger 900 Rally Pro. He returns with a group of locals ready to heave our bike into a tiny boat. A couple of old car tyres are all we have at our disposal to put the bike down in a reasonably safe way.

A few more hours pass while the boat is loaded with a wide variety of goods before the skipper finally gets ready to leave. But then a group of about a dozen locals show up who also want to get on the boat. Fiona and I are horrified, because the boat already feels more than overloaded. Half of the people are eventually diverted onto another boat, while a family of four, including a two-week-old baby, squeeze onto the tiny wooden bench behind us.

The ride to Cameroon is pretty rough, and with every hour the visibility gets worse until a thick wall of fog completely blocks the view. When our skipper asks local fishermen to show him the way to Cameroon, we realise: he has lost all orientation!

It is already beginning to dawn when we finally reach a port in Cameroon. We are not even close to our actual destination. Instead, we land in a small town about an hour north of Limbé. As annoyed and exhausted as we are at this point, we are grateful to have reached Cameroon and not to be adrift at sea in the middle of the night.

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