|Title:||full contact traffic|
'aah, it will be allright! i'll manage the traffic around ibadan.' i thought when i woke up this morning, after nightmares about corrupt officials, bandits and terrible traffic.
i left my 'four-star' hotel and looked for a gas station. it was easy enough to find, as it was clearly marked by a long queue of people waiting for gasoline. it is amazing that in nigeria, where the main industry is oilproduction, fuel shortages in the north are very common .
'well, that's just how it is.' i thought when i took my place at the end of the queue. 'it's part of travelling in nigeria, so let's wait' i didn't stay there for long, however: a young man who is working at the gas station must have spotted me from 100 meters away and came running over.
"come here, come here! you don't have to wait!" he shouted. than he pushed people aside, creating space for me to advance all the way to the front. i felt terrible and looked at the waiting people mumbling apologies. but the didn't want to hear excuses: "hey, you're a tourist, man. you should not have to wait, it's ok! go ahead!"
i filled my tank for a few dollars and left. i waved my hand as i passed the waiting crowd, shouting "thank you!". they responded with loud cheers and "good journey!"s which followed my in me mind for many kilometers down the road. it's the kind of experience that gives you so much positive energie that you almost feel like flying.
after the good experience came the horrifying one: traffic! in nigeria, overtaking is apparently not considered an act which requires any thinking ahead. and traffic follows a simple darwinistic philosophy: the stronger will survive...
i don't consider myself exactly strong on my two wheels and therefore decided several times to leave the road and wait there until a mad crowd of oncoming vehicules had passed by. it only took me 200 kilometers to decide that an illegal entry into niger is less hassle than a continuation of this traffic desaster.
i found the road that lead to kamba at the border to niger. i got a bit nervous as a i approached the border and hoped, that the niger border officers wouldn't notice that my single-entry visa had already been used.
leaving nigeria was hassle-free, moments later i found myselft handing over my passport to the immigration officer of niger. the man didn't really know what to do with my passport and called another officer. page for page they went trough my passport and, by asking a question about the road to benin, i somehow managed to catch their attention at the very moment they opened the page with the treacherous entry and exit stamp of my prior visit to niger. as if magic, the officer who held my passport, looked up to answer my question while flipping over the page.
'uuhff, they didn't spot it' i thought.
then they started to write down my personal data into a big book which seemed to take ages. i started sweating when they went through the pages again and again they didn't realize that my visa was already used. they went to the next empty page in my passport and applied the releaving stamp!
'done! i'm in!' i thought. but then older one of them started to flip through the pages once more and looked puzzled at the visa:
"but derungs," he said, "why are you trying to enter niger with an invalid visa?" he asked me.
'shit, he's found it' i thought and looked at him in surprise. "why, what's wrong?" i asked.
"here, the visa is no longer valid! it's only valid until may 15th".
"oh, no no! look this says it's valid FROM the 15.5.2002 TO the 14.7.2002," i explained to him with relief, "the fifteenth is the date when the validity of this visa starts."
"oh, yes of course!" he said, "it's the first time i get to see one of these new visas. please excuse me and have a good trip!" he nodded approvingly and i smiled at him while carefully retrieving my passports from his hands.
'YES!!! DONE!!!' i thought when driving off, 'now i only hope they won't check to closely at the exit post in gaya, 20 km down the road'.
they didn't. in fact they didn't look at all and just applied the stamp.
there follwed one more border post, and i was in benin. i drove another 100 kilometers on excellent beininoise roads and found a very nice hotel in a town called kandi. i was exhausted, went to bed early and slept well.