I am in Marrakech now, which is at the south end of the Arabic area. I left my bicycle in the hotel in Marrakech 2 days ago. I went to climb Jebel Toubkal (4167 m), which is about 80 km south of Marrakech. The area around Jebel Toubkal is Beruberu country.
I took a bus from Marrakech to Asni (a small town), where I continued my trip on a truck to Imlil. This small village is the entrance to Jebel Toubkal. This mountain is a very touristic place with many white tourists who are not climbers. The climbing is easy because many local people help the tourists.
The difference between the Arab and Beruberu nations are the language and the swindlers. In Fez and Marrakech I grew tired of the Arabic swindlers in touristic places. In Asni, I met Aziz, a Beruberu man. "I am a truck driver; I can take you to Imlil. I will leave in 1 hour; you can wait at my house. Don't worry, many tourists visited my house."
He took me to his house, where I waited in a room. His cousin Mohammed arrived and said: "Hello Japanese friend!". He spoke English very well and showed me some pictures of foreign tourists that visited him. Mohammed showed me some silver souvenirs and started to explain: "This is a silver bracelet. You are my friend. I give you a special price; only 250 DH (US$ 25.00). And this one is only 500 DH...". "I don't need any souvenirs", I said. "No problem! If you buy 2, it's okay; half price!". "No thank you", I responded. "Okay, I give you this bracelet for only 150 DH". "...". "Okay, no problem! How much do you want to pay?". "...". The questions and answers continued endlessly.
I'm in the capital of Mauritania, Morocco's neighbor to the south. Nouakchott is a pretty small capital city by African standards, built on a Sahara desert. Mauritania was a French colony and many people can speak both Arabic and French. Per Capita GNP is about 500 US dollars. The average span of life is 50 year old. The problem of society is SIDA (AIDS) and unemployment.
I have already stayed about a week at comfotable Youth Hostel. The name of hostel is L'Amitie. The cost is 5 US dollars. It is in the centre of the city. The owner of the hostel is Mauritanian man. His name is Jaffar and his age is 30. Same as mime. The boy is Senegalese. His name is Djiby and age is 25 years old.
Djiby is a black boy. He is a honest, serious and friendly boy. Djiby works very hard every day. He cooks 3 meals every day. He cleans up all rooms. He washes bed sheets. He goes shopping. He waters the garden.... And that is not all: When Jaffar's family or his friends come to the hostel, Djiby makes tea for them. Jaffar's brother sometimes orders to Djiby to buy tobaccos. He goes to shop. Jaffar's friend order to him to wash his car. Djiby do it without any complaint ... His salary is only 50 US dollars per month. (The news paper is 1 dollar. Coca cola is 0.3 dollar )
Djiby told me that there are no jobs in Senegal at the moment. He has 4 brothers and 3 sisters. The family is 15 persons. But only one man (per family) works in Senegal. Djiby goes back home every 6 month to give his money to his family. He likes Mauritania, because he has a job here. His dream is to go to Europe or Japan to make money for his family.
Djiby is a honest and serious and very friendly man.......
I met a Swiss cyclist, mr. Claude Marthaler, in Dakar a few days ago. We stayed in the house of a Japanese man (who works in Dakar) who invited us.
I met Claude nine years ago in Geneve. His mother invited me again last February. Claude travelled around the
world for about 7 years. He is a very tall guy and a very friendly man. We enjoy to talk together. He will go to
Mauritania and Morocco and then return to Geneva. Please help him if he visits you. He has a lot of experience. I
hope you enjoy talking with him.
The rainy season finished a few days ago and the dry season starts here in Senegal. A nice season for cyclists starts in West Africa. I have already cycled 7 weeks in Africa. I crossed Morocco and Mauritania; the landscape changed, the people changed and now the weather also changed.
Morocco was my first African country. Almost everybody waved at me and said: "Bonjour!". It was very different from Europe. I waved back at them and answered: "Bonjour!". At first it made me happy, but after a while I grew tired of answering them, because too many people waved at me.
Fez and Marrakech are touristic towns, which were not good places for me. Some people approached me but they always told lies. I met many swindlers, they disgusted me. It is very difficult to find nice people, they may look friendly, but some of them only like my money.
Mauritania is in the Sahara desert, which has various colours. Some dunes are yellow, orange, white, pink, grey and black. The landscape is wonderful. Mauritanian people look friendly, but are regretably only interested in foreigners' money and visa.
Next, I arrived in Senegal, where the Sahara finishes, where the country is green. Black people live in this country, who wave at me and shout: "Cadeau!". It means: give me a present. Many children and women (but not everybody) shout: "Cadeau!" "Cadeau!" "Cadeau!" "Cadeau!".
Dakar is the capital of Senegal. Many people who lived at the country-side have come here and population grows quickly. As does the unemployment rate. Downtown I encountered pickpockets twice. Both times, I was lucky and nothing was missing.
ODA, NGO... the advanced countries help the developing countries. I don't know what the problem of the West African people is: development?, poverty?; I think they need to study "morality" first.
I hope all of you have a happy and good health in this year and century !!!
Thank you very much for all of the nice e-mails I have received. I can not always write back to you, because the internet connections are sometimes very bad around here. I am sorry. I will answer your mail as soon as I possibly can.
I am O.K. My body got thin and I lost much of my energy, but I am still healthy and fine. I already arrived in Accra and I received many letters from my friends. People sent me pictures, dry foods, small gift and so on. I was very, very happy to find it.
It was a memorable "21 centuries New Year's Eve" for me.
Thank you very much everytime.
Many people come to me. And they ask "Ça va?" (How are you?). Many people are friendly to foreign people. So, Togo is a peaceful country.
I stayed at a French friend's place. mr. Jerome works as a volunteer for a French NGO. I've been in Lome for 1 week, already. I went to town to see and to talk with people every day. It is very interesting. The Mango season has just started. Mangos are very sweet and delicious. I think the Mango is the king of fruits.
I met a running man yesterday. He runs around the world. His name is mr. Serge Roetheli. He comes from Switzerland. His purpose is to help children. He is a very famous man in Switzerland and elsewhere. He is always in contact with mass media. And, many people send him (charity) money. He gives that money to "Terre des hommes".
He started at his home town February 13, 2000. He will try to visit 40 countries and 40000 kilometres on foot until 2004. I talked with him for about an hour. He likes to talk and he is a friendly man. His wife Nicole helps him. She rides a motorcycle to carry all their stuff. You can see their web site.
I will leave Lome for Benin on Monday (January 29th).
Many families have lighting fixtures. Some of them have a television. But the electricity is off many times!
They have water pipes, but there is no water!
They have some nice "Shell" gas station, but it there no gasoline!
There are too many children here. Some of them don't have father or mother and are sold to others for housekeeper. They can not go to school.
The people are always fighting everywhere!
Too much traffic accidents! Sometimes, people dead on the road! But nobody remove the corpses!
There are a lot of bad army, bad police and robbers in Nigeria.
Nigeria has too many problems. But, my experience is not so bad. Because I made many good friends there. One of my good friends, mr. Lasisi invited me for more than 2 weeks at his office in Lagos. He took me to the TV and News paper office. After that, many people know me. And they help me. So, I could enjoy to stay there. Even the immigration police in Calabar were kind.
I left Calabar, Nigeria March 2nd by ship. The trip is 5 hours. Camerooners force me to pay money one by one in the port of Douala, Cameroon. The baggage carrier man, army, police, the customer officer, immigration police, and gardmen. Everybody wanted 2000cfa. That was quite a lot of money in this country. (To stay in a cheap hotel costs about 2000cfa.) I paid some money to them. At last I could go out from the port. Many Camerooners are nice, but soldiers, police officers, public official workers, bank workers, are very bad and lazy.
I climbed to the top of Mt. Cameroon. It is the highest mountain in West-Africa with 4095m. But, I could not go there by bike, because it was too risky according to the army. I took a bus ...
I went to port to buy ticket to Guinea Equatorial yesterday. I was unlucky. A army soldier called to stop me. He checked my passport and yellow card. There was no problem, but he said: "This is not yellow card! You must pay us a penalty of 50000cfa!" He took me to a small room. We discussed for about an hour. He wanted me to pay 50000cfa. At last I paid 10000cfa and I was released from there. It was my bad experience. I hate the corruption in Cameroon ...
Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country. Gabon has much oil and is a rich country in Africa. But these countries are not good countries for tourists.
When I arrived at Malabo by ship, the immigration police demanded 5,000 CFA. The customers officer woman demanded 1,000 CFA. They put all of this money in their pockets. My first impression about Equatorial Guinea was very bad. But the people living in this country are very friendly and quiet. One student invited me at his aunt's house at Malabo and Bata. I enjoyed to talk with them and to eat local foods. That family is not rich, but they are very warm family. Not only this family, also other people are friendly to foreign tourists.
I cycled from Bata to the border of Gabon. There were 6 police checkpoints there. The police officers and army soldiers always demanded money. One officer demanded 25,000 CFA and other one 50,000 CFA!! It was too much for me. A cheap hotel is 2,000 CFA. Coca Cola is 500 CFA in this country. Many local people helped me to save money for my long journey. They gave me accommodations. They gave me food ... But police stole my money mercilessly. I was sad and afraid. I wanted to escape from Equatorial Guinea as soon as I possibly could ...
At last I went out from Equatorial Guinea and arrived to Cocobeach, Gabon. I felt relieved only a few minutes. Then, the immigration police in Gabon demanded 30,000 CFA!!! The police of Gabon are also very bad ...
Many local people told me: "Many African governments are very bad! When a person gets power, he use this power only for himself. So, the people who work for the government always take money for their own pockets. And the life of the local people never gets any better!!!"
(The CFA (Colonies françaises d'Afrique) Franc is the currency for two groups of African countries: central and west. Exchange rates are pegged to the Euro; in January of 2007, 50,000 Francs were about € 75.00 or $ 100.00 - Adriaan)
Kenya: "Paradise of wild animals", "Mt. Kenya is second highest mountain in Africa", "Equator", "Masai people".
So, it's a touristic country. Many foreign tourists come to this country and spend a lot of money. Of course it is wonderful land. I also enjoyed to visit Masai Mara National Park, Nakuru National Park, and Mt. Kenya. It was a nice experience.
But, before I visited there, I got Malaria.
Tropical Malaria is a very dangerous sickness. Untreated, it's fatal. But if one takes good medicine for the right time and the correct amount, one shouldn't be afraid of it. You can get well.
Many African people are killed by Malaria.
I am still OK and enjoying my cycling in Africa. I'm sending you a quiz about Africa. You can choose one of A,B,C. Enjoy!
Answers: Morocco: C. Flag Special; Mauritania: B. Octopus; Senegal: A. Yes; Mali: C. Third longest river; Burkina Faso: B. Vultures; Ghana: B. Yellow fever; Togo: B. 60 km; Benin: B. No; Nigeria: A. Left; Cameroon: C. Israel; Equatorial Guinea: C. 22 years Gabon: C. Oil; Kenya: A. Leopard.
On June 2nd 2001, I had travelled 40,500 kilometers (15,166 miles) by bicycle. The equator is 40,075 km.
Thank you very much, all of my friends! I have been around the world! Now, I could climb Mt. Kilimanjaro!! (5985 m)
It is winter time here in Zimbabwe. Bulawayo is 1300 m above the sea level is near 0 degrees in the morning. The people wear jackets and gloves.
I came into Zimbabwe from Mozambique June 21st. That was the date of the total eclipse there. I saw it with with some policemen. Many policemen in Zimbabwe are very friendly. They invited me to sleep at police stations all the time. Then the next day also, and the next day ... (Of course it is free accomodation and even sometimes they gave me food.) We could discuss various things between each country.
Zimbabwe is one for the fastest developing countries in Africa. They produce good wine, brandy, and cheese... The roads are very nice. Many people wear nice clothes. They have electricity, even small villages.
When I came into the capital Harare, I was very surprised. There are many big farms here. It looks like USA or Europe. I also saw some white people here. Harare has tall buildings and wide streets. Harare looks like an USA city. There are big supermarkets (like "Safe Way"), high-class-houses (like "Beverly Hills"), and also bicycle track here. The European people brought much that culture.
The one problem of this country is that they have the big difference between the poor and the rich. The poor are almost all black people and the rich are white people and a few black people. They have also political and economical problem just now. The Zimbabwe currency devaluated. The cost of fuel went up. The unemployed population is growing. The salary of people did not increase. The only good thing: the people are peaceful and not dangerous at the moment. They have election next year. I hope they change for the better.
I like Zimbabwe very much. I met many nice local policemen and I made nice friends in Harare ...
I have climbed 5985 m tall Mt. Kilimanjaro!
I have cycled around the world!
I have seen the total eclipse at Nyamapanda, Zimbabwe.
I have received many letters and packages at Harare.
I will arrive in Cape Town maybe end of August.
I am in Namibia now, in the southern part of Africa. The land is almost covered by waste and desert. The population is small. Many people can speak English. Here is the well-known Etosha National Park, the Namib desert, the Fish river canyon, and diamond mines. There are many nice landscapes and the people are quite friendly. But, on the other side, they have many problems, for example: AIDS, racial problems, unemployment, government ... and so on.
I enjoy my cycling life every day. I sleep at petrol stations (Shell, BP, Total) or police stations every night. Right now, I am staying at my very nice Namibian friend's house in Windhoek. Angelo and Fatima are my new friends.
I was in an accident 3 days ago. I fell from my bicycle at a steep downhill, 200 km away from Windhoek. It was a gravel road near Namib Nakluft Park. I pulled hard on my brake. But my heavy bicycle would not stop and my front tire ran aground on a big stone. I hurt in my arms, shoulders and legs. I was bleeding. My bicycle was also severely damaged. Both tires burst. The front rim was bent. My bicycle's bags tore. I could not move anymore. It was first time to get hurt in this 3 years. I was disappointed ...
But, I was lucky at the same time: I was still alive. My bones were not broken. And I was very lucky because a worker's truck came through this local road only 30 minutes after my accident. The road workers were very friendly. They picked me up and took me to the capital (Windhoek, about 200 km). (Of course, they wanted no money.)
My injuries weren't too bad. I have found a good bicycle shop in Windhoek. So I can continue my cycling soon. I stayed in Windhoek to rest for 4 days. Many local people helped me. It is wonderful!!
I will try to go to Namib Nakluft Park (same way) again. Then I go to Cape Town. I will arrive in Cape Town end of this month. It will be my last place in Africa. I will fly to South East Asia or Australia after there.