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A Narrow Escape

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

There was no mentionof the following story in the typed-up journal and I am pretty certain that I never told my mother about it. Siggi was real enough but I have no idea where we split. I know for a fact that I travelled into Zaïre by myself. This is the story of the night before the border crossing, told twenty years later and from memory:
[read on]


Thursday, July 29th, 2004

RCA, March 1984
At least my luggage problems were solved, the rucksack was now about the right weight and there was ample room for all my stuff.
[read on]

Bangui-Boubari rip-off?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

RCA, March 1984
My backpack was still too heavy when Siggi and I finally left Bangui on the 9th of April. We headed out to a checkpoint at the outskirts where every vehicle had to stop. A small settlement had shot up around the barrier and there were ramshackle restaurants, stalls and coffeshops. We made ouselves comfortable by the roadside, ate ice-cream and jumped up every now and then when a car pulled up. I had hitchhiked under more strenuous conditions.
[read on]

A Nest of Thieves

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

RCA, Febuary1984
Central Bangui had the feel of a small French provincial town with a roundabout in the middle. We were diving around it, somewhat confused as to what direction to take, when a whistle shrilled. Startled, we stopped in the middle of the road. A policewoman with a glowering expression curtly waved us over to a parking space. We had been blocking the presidental convoy which even now rounded the corner with wailing sirens. It cost us a hefty fine.
‘The police here are well alert,’ I thought. If only.
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The End of the Road – going solo

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

RCA, March 1984
That evening the sky was covered with leaden clouds and there was an ominous grumbling in the distance.
“We are going to get rain,” I said to Reinhold.
“That is impossible,” he said: “it might look like rain, but it is the wrong time of year.”
“If you say so.”
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Pints of Rain

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

The weather has turned to shit — where has the summer gone?
Still, I suppose there are always compensations…


The Valley of Eden

Monday, July 19th, 2004

–Not the story I have published on BootsNall earlier, that was written from memory. This is taken from my recently recovered notes:

Central African Republic, March 1984
Later that day we came to a large village but there was no food for sale and the distended stomachs of the children spoke of malnutrition. Many of the children we had seen in RCA so far had shown signs of malnutrition, whereas in the dry steppes of the western Sudan the children had looked healthy.
[read on]

Stalking hippos

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

Central African Republic, Febuary1984
We drove into the night. Our headlights fingered across shrubs and gnarled tree stumps which formed ghostly shadows in the dark. The air was still and oppressive, as if we were already in the jungle.
[read on]

How not to cross a border (1)

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

Central African Republic, Febuary1984
We travelled across the hot dusty savannah of the Western Sudan, following the railway from Kosti through El Obeid to Nyala and Oum Dafog at the border to the Cetral African Republic. We did not encounter any difficulties which was fortunate because rumours about unrest in this region abounded. Everything seemed so peaceful that I could hardly imagine that there was a war in the south.
[read on]

The quest for the camel market of Omdurman

Friday, July 16th, 2004

Khartoum, January1984
On the day of our planned departure, the sky over Dongola was grey and the streets were hazy. A sandstorm was blowing a dusty mist from the desert. Siggi refused to drive in these conditions. Gerd stopped us whinging by describing what it would be like to set up camp in a sand storm and trying to eat our freshly bought steaks with the sand grinding between our teeth.
[read on]