Day 64… Sunday 4th June
Up before sunrise as we needed an early start and to be ready to get on the road for 6am (first light). Very slow drive today covering only 130 miles over 9 hours. The road heading from Banyo was very very bad. Being thrown around over all the potholes, dips and changes in the road level was extremely exhausting especially after a bad nights sleep. Greta is struggling uphill and also managed to get something caught in her engine with a loud screeching sound. Stopped to investigate the problem, got the Haynes manual out as the T-belt light had come on. Could not see anything obvious and continued on and the noise suddenly stopped. Only a couple of police stops today where we showed the necessary paperwork and had no problems. There was one toll road where the chap asked for 500CFA (56p). As the nearest ATM bank was 20 miles away and we had not yet had the opportunity get local currency, the chap happily accepted US dollars. Arrived at Foumban where had success getting out local currency (CFA) – such a relief! Found a hotel and sat enjoying a local beer ‘Kadji’. Greta had limped into town with a power problem – a recurring theme but a local mechanic has been arranged for first thing tomorrow.
Another day another atrocious road. The road from Banyo to Magba is completely unpaved and riddled with potholes. The surface goes from hard mud to liquid mud, smooth straight sections to potholed mess. There were mini sections of tarmac but this was around windy hill roads which would clearly get washed away without it. We made it to Magba in about 7 hours, and whilst I drove slower than the locals I drove the car too hard. It seemed impossible to drive the road without crashing in and out of potholes, with the car violently thrashing up and down. And when hitting mud, even driving slowly the car would slide around like on an ice rink. Thankfully we didn’t get stuck in it unlike some lorries further ahead, and grateful for the direction of a local to use a little detour to navigate around it.
Once we hit Magba a beautiful wide tarmac road appeared before us. A small blessing. Immediately we went from disconnected rural villages with a more traditional African lifestyle to well developed areas with newer housing, cars, and a more functional economy.
But alas Greta is very now unwell, with more battle scars to the outside of her, a seemingly distorted rear bed section which is no longer straight vertically with the cabin area (I’ll get a picture to show you), and a complete loss of power when going up hills. Thankfully when we limped into Foumban our hotel manager said he could sort out a mechanic for first thing the next day. Small miracles.
On a lighter note, we did see lots of people taking their cattle (to slaughter we’re guessing) in the back of seemingly normal cars! It’s surprising what can fit in the back of a Toyota Corolla, including a day earlier where we saw a goat hanging out of the back which required me to drive up alongside and notify the driver.