Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nigeria: From the bush to paradise

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Folks in Nigeria enjoy my trip

My trip is constantly full of contrasts. Currently I live in my own apartment and I’m being fed by my own cook.

Coming to Nigeria was a different experience. The country has a lot of oil and therefore a fleet bigger than all other countries in West Africa.
Biking in Lagos, which is one of the largest cities in Africa with 15 million inhabitants, was a headache. .Driving style is not exactly like home, and here, it’s the largest car that gets the right of passing first. Chaos and noise without equal. But it gave me a little kick to follow the stream in this crazy traffic. People shouting and screaming at each other and I wasn’t any better, shouting and shaking my fist. A car bumped into the back of my bag and rear wheel, slashing my bag.

Everywhere accidents

R ode towards Nigeria Delta, where most of the oil is found. I had an address of a Nigerian’ friend where I could go to. He had been in Norway for many years and wanted to welcome me at his home. He was a former professional singer who sung for the president and now has his own music studio. I lived for free a few days in his studio with music around the clock.
Music Studio.
Singer Rolly and his children.

My budget was getting low and I wanted to put on some kilos before I rode on. I was now down to 70 kg and my weight should actually be 90 kg. Also my "wife" Frøya needed to have a break and be tuned a little before she biked further.
I had heard that the Norwegian oil companies were here so I started looking around to see if I could find a job. I found nothing, since most companies had left town due to the kidnapping of foreign oil workers.
After a couple of days I came in contact with a Canadian, named Paris, who worked here. We got to talked a lot since I rode through the town where he was from in Canada. He has his own transport company that works with the sale of oil. I also met with many of his friends and heard many stories about Africa that one could hardly believe. For sure these guys could be writing a 10 volume encyclopedia! But as they say, no one would believe it and this is the reason why they are not going to write it when they get home. One of them was kidnapped but was released a day later when they saw that they had taken the wrong man!

From Left. Herbert from Germany, he works for an oil company and write travel books. Nr2, Paris W Lebouf from Canada, he ownes a truck company, Falchem Mega Concept Ltd. Nr3 another german once was kidnapped . Nr 4 is are from Germany as well.

Paris also helped me to fix up my bike. My storage tray was not far enough from the wheels and constantly scratched my tires. This is the typical Canadian I that I know from my trip through Canada- extremely helpful and friendly.

Paris helped me to repair my bike

Some days later I found a Norwegian sub sea company called, from Haugesund. This is one of the few firms that is still here in Port Harcourt. They took care of me when I told them about my problem of being under weight. They gave me a nice apartment with air conditioning, internet and cable TV. I even have my own cook and laundry woman. I must admit that I feel like in paradise after six months in the bush. The cook there puts his soul into preparing meals and I can eat all day.

She prepare me food all day long. She smiles all the time

The system of the companies around here is very safe. I can not move around as I please, etc. It is a little unusual for me after 3 years of absolute freedom, but I understand why.
A working man here, Bill, said he can help me find a job in the oil companies all around the world if I ever need it.
Bill Jaffrey from Scotland.

My "wife" was complaining of pain in the gears. I asked the bicycle company Trek if they could help me with new and stronger wheels. It’s the heavy load and the bad roads which always give her problems.

There is one thing I missed and that is protein powder. I have used this many times before when I was training for strength and I know how effective it is. No criticism of the food, but it is a completely different bacteria and flora than what I'm used to. Some times I need to use the toilet before I finish eating.
I contacted the company and they will sponsored me 3 kg powder for me as a roughneck from Norway.
I am excited to get back on the road again full of muscles.
I found a couple who will help me to create a new web site, Marit and Knut Rønningen. I am happy to see the results.
I have sold 3 calendars and one picture after my first day of publishing.Was little pride rest of the day.
I will stay a little longer until I head out for South Africa.

Greetings from Frøya and Rune

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria

Croos river Togo.

Ghana, slave castle on right.

Keyword: I spent a sad Christmas in an orphan home; stayed over in a Norwegian Danish slave fort in Ghana, voodoo in Benin and a surprising friendly welcome in Nigeria. Read also about my new “Wife” Frøya.

I stayed a while in Ghana working in an orphanage where I also spent Christmas. I was expecting to see and take part in some of the Christmas and New Year’s traditions of Ghana but as time passed it turned out that there wasn’t really any celebrations to be had so I spent Christmas alone in my room, very depressed and wishing so much to be with my family. When I finally received a message from them I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. This has to be the saddest Christmas I've had in a very long time.
I eventually thanked everyone for their hospitality and continued on my journey.
This is my niece and nephew who I left Norway for 3 years ago and I do miss them so.

I rode for many miles along the coast, with its beautiful beaches and scenery. I also came across a Danish / Norwegian slave-fort which is now in ruins. I went and checked it out, and it was difficult not to imagine all the cruelties which might have taken place there. The slave trade created a spiral of wars across Africa. Whether they had to capture people and enslave them or become slaves themselves.
I told the guide about my small travel budget and he said that he would allow me to stay inside the fort.
At first I was excited, but then I started to think... It wasn't that I was afraid of the dark or anything like that, but thought that perhaps the old buildings could make my imagination run wild and make me see images of some of the things that occurred there some 150 years ago. Nevertheless, I accepted the offer and the night went smoothly without any visits from ghosts or other weird things.... Somehow it was a very special feeling to lie there under a mosquito net and to think about all those sad times of many a year ago.

My bed in the castle.

Keta Castle.
You know, there is still Danish and Norwegian spoken here, with words such as "saks, gaffel, kniv osv" which mean "scissors, fork, knife, etc.". Many people also have Scandinavian surnames like Quist, Hansen ............. Some even have lighter skin most probably as a result of mixed relations of Scandinavians co-inhabiting. Of course, that is only my belief.

As usual, it is very hot and so I bike mostly in the mornings and afternoons but not in the middle of the day as it is far too hot then.
I have now arrived in Togo which is a very small French speaking Country.
The border authorities granted me a 7 days visa without any problems as well as often being invited to their homes' for overnight stays, which is naturally always nice for me.
Get problem with my skins, to hot and humid.

Benin is another small African country. No problems with the visa at the border. They only gave me a 2-day visa, which I had to renew as soon as I arrived in the capital.
Benin and Togo are all “voodoo homes” and I saw many different voodoo-symbols and sacrificial sites. Normally they offer chicken, etc. as around 40% of the population completely believe in this method of worship.
I participated with a bit of sacrifice, wishing for a safe and happy ride for the rest of my trip.
I have been told many times that there are many people in Africa praying for me.

Woodoo docktor. He offers things on the right side .

In Benin, I had to arrange my Nigerian visa and I must confess that I was expecting many problems as I had previously read in the Lonely Planet magazine that in order to enter Nigeria you must have a written invitation, a pre-booked hotel, the documentation to prove that you have money and an airfare ticket out of the country etc. I walked into the Nigerian Embassy without any of these things hoping that everything would go well. I explained my mission and showed them a newspaper with some reports about my trip. Amazingly it only took me 10 min and I received a 1-month visa without any more questions asked.

Whilst here, I spent one night on the streets sleeping with some homeless people and alcoholics. I couldn’t find a good place for my tent so I asked if I could stay with them. They enjoyed hearing stories about my trip. Surprisingly, I felt very safe the whole night, and for sure they all kept an eye on me that night. This is something I've noticed several times before, people looking out for me. It's in these sort of places where I feel the safest. To tell you the truth, I have come to feel really safe in most places.

Bush meat Nigeria
When I arrived at the border there were an unusual amount of control posts along the way. Everything went without any problems, and everyone were very curious about my journey. I think I was stopped at least 20 times that day. The reason for there being so many control posts along the whole Nigeria border is because of the large amount of crime.
But I must say that Nigerians impressed me with their happy nature. People smile all the time. So much in fact, that I found myself smiling a lot and always in a good mood. They love to hear what I do and they thought how nice it is to be able to make friends with a white travelling man on his travels around the world. I’ve been here a week now and I have been given free accomodation in a hotel, food every day and actually some people actually supported me by giving some money. The police also gave me bananas, oranges and water.

Police give me orange.
One day I heard a noise from the rear wheel of my bike and discovered that 7 spokes had broken. The wheel was twisted and I couldn’t ride my bike any more. I didn’t have spare spokes and I was a long distance from the nearest city so I spoke to a policeman about my problem and told him that I needed some help. That a biker should have problems in their country was unusual. He stopped a truck and told the driver to take me to the nearest village. There, the city’s town Chief offered me accommodation.
I couldn’t find spokes or an ATM in that place and I was just as far as I had been before. One of the guys from the village kindly gave me $20 so that I could take a taxi to the nearest town. I rode in the taxi with the rear wheel and finally got it repaired and returned to the country town. Some families invited me in to share some good food and palm wine.
Sure, all this has made such a good impression on me. The humility and happy disposition of the Nigerians. Now, to me, it seems strange to hear of all of those warnings about crimes and things. Nigeria is one of the countries which I had been warned many times not to go to. Naturally, they have their problems, but I think they are on track for the better. So, when I got there, expecting all those warnings to come to pass, it turns out that Nigeria is actually one of the friendliest countries I have visited so far.

My "new" wife
I called my bike Frøya. She is my wife; she is not especially beautiful, in fact, a bit heavy-set and chubby. But she is strong and resistant. I have been very fond of her up to now. We had a little turbulent start in Africa and needed constant breaks from each other. But now, we have found the tone and things are going better. Africans are very respectful towards my wife and there is such a full meaningful understanding between us that I want her next to me all the time specially when I sleep.

Yours Frøya and Rune

By Calendar: "Vikings never give up".

Support independent publishing: buy this calendar on Lulu.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Week 50. Donation, New seat and Merry Christmas.

I will be staying at the orphanage for Christmas and then I will be leaving with an improved plan and hopefully some money.

My seat was not good anymore. Because I have been in hospital 3 times for problems with my butt I have now been able to get hold of some Gel to cover the bicycle seat even though it has started to age so I do need to fix it.

Here is how my seat look now,which is not exacly what I ordered. But you have to make do with what you have which is a Jeans seat.

African style viking helm.

Preparing food.

Playing soccer.

Some people have very kindly donated some money to my PayPal and I wish to thank each and every one of you for your generosity in answering my call for help. Foto from left. Namely, these people are:

Petter Guttotmesen. He is my hobby agent and on picture you can see him when he was the worlds hardest Ironeman, Norseman. He also gratefully gave me some money last month. Thank you so much Petter.

Jarred Kalweit who is from USA and has a plan to cycle throughout the US. If you're interested to check his progress you may find him on his blog
It's always nice to see cyclists help each other. Thank you.

Ivan Pivan Plosj who is from north Norway and who we used to work together on a fishing boat for six months. He is now working towards bringing Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland closer together via a Viking Union. Previously he has also shown his generosity by donating some money to me which I thank him for.

Also a dear friend of mine, Maria Haugeland who is also from Norway and who works as a personal trainer in Oslo (Boy is she strong or what!!) I thank you.

Line and Bjorn Brekke. They are from Norway and work together at Brygga Resstaurant. They have just be parents. Thank so much to both.

I received a donation from yet another Norwegian, Anne Marthe Carlsen who I also have worked with in Tonsberg. Im not sure what she ís doing now, but last time I spoke to her she was working as an actress or something and as you can see she is another very beautiful lady who I also thank.

Further thanks go out to an Austrian, Dietmar Duft (no foto) who for the time being I´m not quite sure what he does but I do know that he likes cycling.
To you all I can´t tell you just how much your contributions have helped towards my goal and determinatiom to complete this tour.

As well as these kind people I wish to also thank everyone who I have met so far and who have helped me in one way or another and shown their hospitality on this incredible journey, oh and of course my family and friends.

May I take this opportunity to thank evryone a very Merry Christmas and a very succesful New Year.

With much affection,

Paco (Rune)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Week 49, Orphan

Show movie from my trip. Orphan.
At the Orphanage

I am still staying here at the orphanage which I like very much and have found to be very rewarding helping out but I do have to make plans for touring the rest of the Africa´s. I have to admit that this Africa trip has been the most craziest thing that I have ever done.
After experiencing intense heat in South America and biking in below zero conditions in Canada during the winter I thought that there could not be any worse or alternative conditions to be had. Then I came to Africa! How wrong could I have been!
AFRICA is definitely something else as anything and everything goes. To date I have cycled in torrential rain as well as intensily hot sun and during those times I have contracted malaria, worms running around the insides of my body and if that´s not enough, gone and got myself a long bout of diarrhoea. Originally I believed and had planned to be cycling in beautiful weather and to travel throughout the Africas with sufficient money. So you might understand why I lost some of my motivation and was getting concerned with my health and now understand what all of my friends back in Madeira had been saying was true but at the time I thought what could they possibly know having not done anything or experienced any of the things that I have?! But now I am here and have a very supportive family who give me what they can to be able to at least eat each day........ for the next six months anyway ($5 per day).
I predict that the forthcoming problems will be that I will need a separate visa for all of the countries that I´ll b e biking through which is will cost approx. $50 US for each country, three of which I am planning to pass through in the next 500kms.
I am grateful to the donations that I have received on PayPal from Margaret Wiig, a Norwegian lady who now lives in Canada and one anonymous gentleman from Seattle who had heard of the time that I was robbed in Seattle and and who felt sorry for me. My goodness, that happened two years ago and people are still talking about it. Simply amazing! My eternal thanks and gratitude go out to you both.

Here in Africa I am being called Paco as everyone found Rune to be too difficult to pronounce.

When to Cycling West Africa.
More info, click here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Week 48. Slave Castle,

Ghanaian Ladies.
Elmina Castle, fishing villages.

A few kms from the orphanage there are many castles the most famous being Elmina Castle. Built by the Portuguese in 1482 it is one of the oldest castles in Africa and has since been captured by the Dutch as well as the British.
Most of the European slave market was generated from Ghanaian castles and as many as seven million slaves were shipped out from there.

All of this week at the orphanage, which is a non profit organisation, I have not only been working a little like a teacher with the children but have also been living with them. See more

I have got a bit of a problem getting motivated these days and always being short of money does'nt help. My family have helped me by sending me some every month which naturally I will have to pay back when I eventually return to Norway. This is sufficient enough for food only which of course, I am most grateful for.

I met a French couple at the orphanage and stayed with them for a few days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Week 47. Orpanhage, Rat hunting, dancing....

The Town priest hunting for food.
Two Towns' chiefs.

God is everywhere.

I will be here for one more week and then go on to Krokobite, Accra and Togo.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Week46. Still at an orphanage.

They dance all time.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Week 45, Working at an orphanage

Me on school.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Week 44, Picture.

Week 44
Some people have shown an interest in buying my photos and others have said that I should try to sell them on the internet and I'm going to do just that. So, if you are interested then simply click on any of the above pictures make me an offer....... that I can't refuse! Ha Ha

Also please check out my 2009 Calendar.

Week 43. Ghana. About Ghana.

Ghana has to be the most peaceful country in all of west Africa. After some months of war in the area as well as being an extremely poor country it was so very different just crossing the border to experience people smiling all of the time, and being greeted with a big English which is widely spoken here.

History.Some information about Ghana.
In present day Ghana which has been inhabited since 4000 BC by the 13th century several kingdoms had developed growing rich from the country's massive gold deposits.
By the 16th century one of the kingdoms was taking control of trade routes to the coast. And it wasn't long before the Europeans discovered this African kingdom. First the Portuguese came sniffing around the coast, and then the British, French, Dutch, Swedes and Danes. They all built forts by the sea and traded in slavery, gold, and other merchandises with the Ashanti Kingdom.
Castle Cape coast.

The slave trade was eventually abolished in the 19th century, and with it went Ashanti's domination. By that time the British had taken over the Gold Coast and created the British colony.
After some years of bloodiful problems Ghana finally won its independence in March 1957 and Nkrumah became the first president of an independent African nation. His speeches, which denounced imperialism and talked about a free, united Africa, made him the darling of Pan-African movement.
However back home he was not popular and he tried to turn Ghana into a one-party state which was when things began to unravel. Nkrumah made his personal bodyguard into an entire regiment, while corruption and reckless spending drove the country into serious debt.
He made the fatal mistake of going on a state visit to China in 1966 because while he was away his regime was toppled in an army coup. But few things changed.
By 1979 Ghana was suffering food shortages and people were out on the streets demonstrating against the army "fat cats"!
Onto the scene came Jerry Rawlings: a good-looking, charismatic, half-Scottish air force pilot who always had a cigarette stuck behind his ear and spoke the language of the people. Nicknamed Junior Jesus, Rawlings caught the publics imagination with his calls for corrupt military rulers to be confronted and being held accountable for Ghana's problems. The military jailed him, but he had fellow junior officers free him after they staged an uprising.
Rawlings then handed over power to a civilian government and started a major `house-cleaning` operation- which entailed executing and jailing of senior officers.
The new president, Hilla Limann, was uneasy with Rawlings' huge popularity, and later accused him of trying to subvert the constitution. Rawlings party toppled him in a coup in 1981, and at this time he stayed in power for the next 15 years. During part of the 1980s Ghana enjoyed Africa's highest economics growth rates.
By 1992 Rawlings was under pressure to introduce democracy, so he lifted the 10-year ban on political parties and called a general election. Rawlings won the 1992 and 1996 election freely and fairly.

Ghana consists of around 15% Muslim, 70% Christian but 100% obsessed with spiritual worship. It is a land of glory, gold and God, after all God is everywhere: You will find, `God is Love Hair Salon`, `Jesus Loves ME Forex Bereau....etc etc.
But this is not to say they can't have fun as they love to dance and party, old and young together.


Ghana is roughly the size of Britain and much of it's terrain consists of wooded ranges, wide valleys and low-lying coastal plains. The damming of the Volta River in the mid-1960 created the worlds largest artificial lake.
Logging, mining and the use of wooden fuels have reduced Ghanas forest from over 8 million sq kms in the early 20th century to less than 2 million sq km now.
Ghana is blessed with hundreds of kilometres of coast shared by beautiful beaches and the remains of European slave forts.
There are a lot of national parks and wildlife, including elephants, baboons and antelope species.
(Lonely Planet)
More about Ghana, click here.

I met a very nice family this week and have been with them all of the time. Life isn't so bad cycling the world you know, with some amazing memories and extremely happy times.