Started the day with a hearty breakfast of rice with sauce. I'm terrible at remembering the names of food, but it was so tasty!
I met up with Alfonso, and we left Guinea-Bissau at Contabane (immigration, army, and customs posts) and headed for the border that was about 6 miles away. We'd chosen this route because it was different to a friend who crossed a few days before. Looking back, we had no idea what was ahead of us!
The track was wide enough for one 4-wheel vehicle. There were huge ruts (about 2 feet deep in places) created from previous vehicles in the rainy season. Choosing a path for our motorcycles to avoid the ruts and other obstacles was a mental challenge that required some luck when the path was not completely viewable.
Water was the cause of many obstacles on this track, such as the ruts. There were multiple small streams and ponds that blocked our path. Sometimes the best option was to take the foot bridge, but not all were safe. For each crossing, we got off the bikes to plan a path throug the water.
We saw countless locals on motorcycles and bicycles doing this crossing. One motorcycle was ridden by a man carrying his wife, 2 children, and a chair!
One particular water crossing was really challenging for me. Alfonso went first and I followed. In hindsight, I thought about the path through for too long and shouldn't have waited so long. Some children had appeared, so I waited for the them to disperse. They didn't and more arrived! There was now a large crowd watching me. Whilst maneuvering the motorcycle into position, I dropped the motorcycle in front of everyone! I picked it up, waited so I could calm down a bit from the adrenalin then I went for it. Here's a photo of the crossing.
Here's a video of me crossing the water. Look carefully and you'll see I accidentally enter a rut (left by a vehicle) and the motorcycle suddenly gets into deep water. Alfonso said he was perturbed when he saw this!
We had crossed the borderline and out of nowhere, a military checkpoint suddenly appeared! All was fine and I politely declined their request for 10,000 CFA.
We eventually reached our next water obstacle, River Kogon.
There were families washing clothes and collecting water.
Local men offered to paddle the motorcycles and us across in boat for a negotiated price. This was the only option and it sounded fun, so we went for it! The men loaded our bikes and panniers that we detached.
My motorcycle and I went on the first crossing. Slightly nervous, but very excited! One guy was paddling at the rear, I was in the middle doing what I was told, and the other guy stood and straddled the motorcycle.
This guy was a dude and wanted his photo taken!
Here's a video taken onboard half way across River Kogon.
Whilst crossing the river, the dude straddling my motorcycle said something and pointed in the distance at the water. I clarified my understanding of what he said by using my arms to imitate a crocodile's mouth, to which he said yes!
Upon arriving at the other bank, the guy requested my motorcycle key. Slightly nervous about the motorcycle disembarking the paddle boat, I gave him the key. He started the engine to ride the motorcycle off the boat with another guy in the water supporting the motorcycle. It looked really sketchy. Once the motorcycle was successfully disembarked into shallow water, the guy rode into land. For a moment, my gut reaction was that they shouldn't ride my motorcycle in case it became damaged. However, these guys clearly knew what they were doing, and it's probably a rare opportunity to ride a motorcycle that is comparatively expensive to African motorcycles I've seen. A nice perk for a job well done!
Safely on dry land, the track became better and less challenging to plan a path through it. This was a more relaxing ride that soon turned into an apocalyptic scene with grass fields on fire around us! Most were at a safe distance except one that felt hot when we rode passed it.
We didn't make it to Boke that day where Alfonso planned to stay, so we camped. It was a really good laugh chatting about the day and cooking food. We both agreed that we needed a beer! The following day we eventually arrived in Boke, and we tucked into a huge bowl of rice with spinach and bits of fish. An epic and memorable ride!