Call it a bold, audacious, or even outright insane attempt by anybody, let alone a full team of more than a dozen persons, and you may not be far from being justified in that thought.
But as wild a thought as that may be, it is already a plan in motion as some 12 men and one woman are currently on the road, on a historic trip from Accra, Ghana’s capital, to London, the administrative capital of the United Kingdom.
The mission is simple; drive 10,000km from Accra to London while having fun.
And they estimate to be in London by Sunday, August 6, or Monday, August 7, 2023.
Speaking in an interview with Kwami Sefa Kayi, one of the team members, referred to as Saka, and speaking from Spain, he said their motivation is because they have heard many stories of how people have travelled from other foreign countries to Ghana and other African countries.
He added that they are also attempting this as a fun activity.
“We are explorers and we are doing this for fun. We read about people driving from Europe to Ghana all the time, and we also planned to do it and we are almost there,” one of the explorers told Kwami Sefa Kayi,” he said.
Fascinated by their adventure and their ability to navigate through several borders, Kwami Sefa Kayi asked the expeditioners whether they had visas and how they were able to go through the borders.
Saka then told him that their journey from Accra to Mauritania was purely with the use of their Ghana Car.
“We used our Ghana Card to travel all the way to Mauritania,” he explained.
Saka also told Kwami what their intention is after they make it to London as scheduled.
The expeditioner told the broadcaster that their idea is to sell their respective businesses to the Ghanaian communities in the city before they return him.
He also added that their plan is to attempt a journey from Accra to Cape Town, South Africa, in 202.
The Ghana Card, apart from its primary use as a national identification, is also certified by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) as an international travel identity card.
Currently, the Ghana Card can be used to travel into Ghana from all countries and can also be used to travel to countries with no visa requirements with Ghana such as West African countries.
The following are accounts by Kwabena Peprah, who is also on the trip. He shared this on his Facebook page on Wednesday, August 2, 2023:
10,000km OVERLAND (ACCRA to LONDON)
The details of how this idea started are quite fuzzy but I am certain there was alcohol involved somehow and then there’s definitely Richard Anim. The only thing I remember is that around 2018, this idea was birthed.
It was just an idea and I kept talking about it and inviting all my friends to come along. There are those like Kow who rubbished the idea outright and then around 2019 I mentioned it to Kwadwo Saka. He jumped immediately and said, “why not? Let’s go”. We began preparing towards a summer 2020 trip.
In choosing vehicles for the trip, we considered all options but initially, the whole idea was to get any of the auto marketing companies to sponsor the trip by providing a vehicle and then for them to own the media output for their promotionals. In my mind, a vivid picture of a very dirty Ghanaian registered off roader parked in front of Harrods or Trafalgar Square seemed like a very good idea for billboards in Ghana. I felt they’d speak to the reliability of whichever vehicle was pictured on that billboard.
We flirted with almost every major car dealer in Ghana and they all literally told us to fork off. Tsigliwigliadzi Kormetorkpor Ometahidior tried to bring in Kantanka so we promote “made” in Ghana but the CEO wouldn’t even meet with us. We decided to go with whichever vehicles we had at the time and so we selected July 25th 2020 as departure date.
Then COVID hit and Fellow Gheneiens locked down the land borders for a good while. Truth is, many countries did same and with the travel restrictions around the world, the idea had to be shelved.
Since this travel bug had bitten us so badly, we had no choice but to begin a series of domesticated road trips to while away the time and acquire enough experience. To date, we have circled Ghana so many times that I have lost count. I know it’s somewhere in a high double digit figure.
Anytime we’ve spoken about this, we’ve had recruits and our numbers kept rising but from our experience with local road trips, we knew a lot would fall by the wayside before D day and we were not wrong. Many are those who get a hard on at the mention of anything exciting but then get flaccid as soon as push comes to shove. I used the word flaccid here again for one of my favorite friends who seems to like this word so much.
We eventually had a final list of committed travelers and we did a couple of trial runs across the West African sub region. That in itself has been a lot of fun.
We planned to set off on Sunday July 23.
Confirmed participants were myself, Saka, Fred Papa Kwofie, Richard, Kwame Peprah, Kofi Peprah, Kwadwo Prakah-Asante, Franklin Peters and his son Quincy, Joseph, Cyprian Ed, Kwabena Ayirebi and his brother Kojo and the only female in the pack, Serwa the Shecanic. She loves cars and bikes like no other.
The vehicles were; my Landcruiser, Cyprian’s Landcruiser, Kwadwo’s Raptor, Fred’s Defender, Joe’s G63 and Frank’s RX350 (the most vilified machine in the list).
A lot of factors conspired to make us depart a day earlier and without Fred and the plan has changed a bit somehow. Work related issues will make some of the participants fly out back to Accra from Dakar and Casablanca, others will have to fly out to South Africa and the Netherlands as well. We also expect to pick up some passengers in Bamako, Casablanca and Amsterdam. The number of people expected to arrive in the UK are 9 in all.
I’ll be writing in real time as events unfold and sometimes, at the end of day. Due to security and other concerns, the first public post will be when we enter Europe and it will be an aggregation of all my daily compilations. From there, I will give real time and daily updates as and when necessary.
As usual, I will not edit my writing and so they will be raw. If bad grammar, typos and the contents rub off wrongly on you, I’m sure you can find one of the “unfriend”, “unfollow” or “block” buttons to prevent yourself from being assaulted by my BS.
Our planned route is to take a long drive on day 1 to Bouake in Côte d’Ivoire, using the border at Gonokrom near Dormaa Ahenkro.
Day 2, Bamako, Mali.
Day 3, Dakar, Senegal. We will stay an extra day to service the cars etc.
Day 5, Nouakchott, Mauritania.
Day 6, Dakhla, Morocco.
Day 7, Guelmim, Morocco.
Day 8, Casablanca, Morocco.
Day 9, Tangier, Morocco.
Day 10, We will cross from Tangier to Algeciras in Spain with the ferry and continue to sleep in Valencia.
Day 11, Monaco.
Day 12, Lake Como.
Day 13, Frankfurt.
Day 14, Amsterdam. I have some business meetings in Amsterdam and my business partner would have flown ahead to begin them. My responsibility is to close these meetings so I will arrive at the tail end. We can chill and work at the same time just as we can walk and chew gum at the same time. I will stay an extra day.
Day 16, London, via Calais / Dover.
As with all things, we have carefully assessed the risks, made mitigation plans and even though we know that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, we are in good spirits.
My favorite question is, what is the worst that could happen?
1. We could have a road accident. As long as we sit in cars daily, that’s a high possibility and we can only try to be careful. If it happens, it does. No biggie.
2. We could have mechanical damage on any of the cars. If it does, we just carpool and leave that vehicle somewhere for my mechanic to go fix and bring it back at his convenience. Nothing spoil. This option is only available as long as the potential damage is before Mauritania since the process of getting a visa for my mechanic will be quite long. If it happens after Mauritania, we will be on the coast so we just tow said car to the closest port and ship it home. We moove.
3. Terrorists or bandits could kidnap us for ransom. We are all Ghanaians and no one will come pay any ransom on our behalf. They’ll get tired and let us go or they can take all our money and cars, and leave us by the roadside to hitchhike home. If they kill us, that one dierrr no problem because after all everyone will die someday. Despite these thoughts, we have still done a lot of homework and are quite prepared for this.
4. Another risk factor is that our vehicles will not be allowed into either Morocco or Europe for a myriad of technicalities. If this does happen, it is what it is. Again, ship the cars home from the closest port and fly on to london to have a great time. Life goes on.
A lot of people are rooting for us. If it is genuine, whichever deity you believe in should reward you plenty for your good thoughts.
If you even think WKHKYD much less say it, your MORDA!!!
If you wish us to fail for any reason so you can say you told us so, or to reaffirm your impossibility filled thoughts, you too your MORDA some. Get a life. If you don’t let your friend cut 9, you too you won’t cut 10. Read that in Twi.
D-DAY MINUS 1
SATURDAY 22 JULY 2023
TARGET – SUNYANI
My people are playing with the 10am departure time we agreed on. It’s raining and cloudy in most parts. Everyone is here apart from the Ayirebi crew. At 10, we will move and they’ll have to catch up. After all, we are going to Sunyani pe.
We set off at a leisurely pace at 10am without them and asked them to try and catch us up in the Aburi mountains. They did catch up in Aburi. We continued into Nsawam and then connected to the N6 headed to Kumasi. It was rainy, misty and visibility was poor all around so we took our fine time. After all, the destination for today is Sunyani and as usual, our accommodation has to be at Eusbett Hotel, Sunyani. Of course, #koobipizza will cry.
In this 5 car convoy, I’ve driven with each and every one of them on road trips but this is the first time we are all driving together. The chemistry between Saka and I is such that we can literally do a road trip blindfolded and we’d know what to do at every turn. I have also done this route twice already in the last as many months so I became the lead car with him pushing the rear guard. We have strict road protocols and we communicate with two way radios.
We ate fufuo at Jofel, Anyinam and got to KNUST on schedule. Uneventful trip but for the usual suspects of idiots and psychopaths sitting behind steering wheels in this country of ours.
We continued into Sunyani on time and Eusbett has not disappointed. The ever affable Robert Mensah always manages to exceed our increasingly erratic and odd demands with that shy smile of his. God bless you my boss.
SUNDAY 23 JULY 2023
TARGET, BOUAKE CI
Robert made sure we got breakfast at 5:30. We are on our way now. Nice cool weather. Sun roofs open, the cool breeze is making the engines purrrr quietly yet eating up the kilometers aggressively.
30 minutes into the journey and Joe has radioed that he’s having some braking issues on the G63. We have stopped and inspection is on going.
Kwame determined that the brakes had been bled by someone and one of the bleeder nozzles had not been tightened well. He did the honors topped up the lost fluid and we set off again. Now, Joe says he had taken the vehicle to the authorized dealers in Accra for inspection and servicing earlier. If they are the ones who did this work, I’m not getting any good vibes from their noise about the dealership coup at all. All noise and no substance. But again, that is Ghana for you.
Border crossing in Ghana was not too difficult. Paperwork on the customs entries which will allow us to clear the cars at the harbour took a little bit of time but we were soon on our way. We all had Lassez Passezs from our recent trips into CI so we didn’t delay on the other end either.
Immigration at Takikro on the CI side however, was a different story. A raggedly bunch of unkempt, non uniformed men, hanging around in a dirty mud hut planned to extort us before granting us entry.
We as usual, decided to use the longer Yamoussoukro – Bouake road instead of the shorter but bad bandit road. At Frank’s Waterloo area, his new, higher profile tyres tore through the potholes with a vengeance. We literally cleared that stretch in a convoy with speeds topping 180km/h. He shouted over the radio with elation when nothing happened to his tyres. The Lexus is a survivor.
We have arrived at Hotel Mon Afrik. Fred and I came here on our last visit because it came highly recommended by someone I know in this blue compound house. We didn’t inspect the rooms. We just paid a deposit to lock them for today. This was around 2 months ago. The environment was and still is very nice.
The rooms however, are a different story. This prompted me to make a post about the fine line between shabby and rustic. I mean if you want rustic, using broken tiles on the floor screams crassness and cheapskate at me. I wouldn’t mind baked earth floor in that vein but broken tiles paaa dierr, I beg, shift make I pass. We have no choice though and since we are leaving at 4am, no biggie.
MONDAY 24th JULY 2023
This morning, we are ready to leave at 4am as agreed. We are driving almost 800km to Bamako through the Tingrela border.
The road is all clear and in very good condition with the exception of a constant supply of speed rumps. Day light is about 2.5 hours away so we are being careful with speed but we’ve found a Camry who seems to know his way around these roads. He’s not being a slouch either so he is our marker. His tail lights tell us what to do when he slows down or bobs up and down on a rump. Life is easy now we don’t have to strain or worry about reading the road.
We are at Tingrela border now and as usual, Africans are trying to find a way to extort where there’s nothing wrong. A port health guy has just been “bullied” into his corner by Saka and he is sitting with his tail in between his legs.
It’s raining and their building is small so our small crowd has taken over all the space. They have a very laborious way of recording all our details for immigration purposes. The boss conducted a short interview on me via a translator and instructed them to take pictures of all our documents and vehicles.
We started applauding them on their pro activeness since we thought they were going to complete the foolscap books when we are gone. WRONG! They are filling each and everyone all over again by hand but we have patience so we will wait.
Done here now. We have to drive for 15 minutes or so to the Malian border post.
The Malians are very thorough with their processes. The lassez passez didn’t take long but the search process of our belongings and cars did. Every bag has to be searched thoroughly and for the cars, it’s as if they are using a fine tooth comb.
From our numerous research, we expected this. We are finally off and we are hungry. Our target is to stop over midway for some quick bites and also to fuel up. We stopped in Bougouni to do the honours. We found some beer as well.
Now, let me take my heart off to the staff of the Ghanaian Mission in Bamako for the immense help they gave to us. The Consul himself met us and escorted us to Bamako. He was very gracious and helpful. He helped us book a hotel, organized some meals for us and really made us feel at home.
Approaching Bamako, Frank mentioned over the radio that his brakes were feeling funny. Team Ayirebi reported same. We stopped to check.
The Lexus’ brake pads had heated up badly and wasn’t being effective.
Team Ayirebi’s front brakes had worn through to the metal and the rotors were being given the scouring of their lives.
We were not far from the town so we decided to take it very easy to get in whilst our escort organized a mechanic to meet us at the Consulate to take a look. Luckily, everyone had spare brake pads.
We were in the process of taking it easy when I also began hearing noises from one of my rear brakes. This is now Bamako in rush hour traffic. A loud grating noise in my rear reacted to every press of the brake pedal.
My father used to have a 1974 model Toyota Corona. It is this car which my brother Kwame and I used to learn how to drive in the mid 80s when we were well below the legal driving age. By the early 90s when we got our licenses, this car was a dilapidated piece of junk and we cheekily named it the Limo.
Now this is a manual, non power steering car whose temperamental first gear, would pop out when you moved. Thus, you are supposed to keep your hand on the gear lever to prevent it from popping out, shift into second as soon as possible and then bring up your right hand to assist in turning the steering wheel when necessary. Any move from standstill at an intersection where one needed to turn right or left was an exercise in multi tasking.
This was the experience I had to call on to maneuver us slowly through the maze called traffic in Bamako to the High Commission.
Essentially, I wasn’t supposed to touch the brakes. I used a combination of the hand brake and tiptronic shifting to move and stop the vehicle without touching the brake pedal.
We finally entered the Mission and boy, the constant hard driving and rapid stopping had taken a toll on all the brakes. One of our rear brake pads had actually fallen out and so the grating noise I heard was the piston meeting the rotor.
The mechanic showed up, replaced for two of the cars whilst Kwame also replaced for the other two. Only the G63 hadn’t worn through his brakes and incidentally, he didn’t have spares anyway so if he had needed one, we’d have been really hot.
TUESDAY 25th JULY 2023
If there’s anything which ticks me off about Bamako, it’s the flies and mosquitoes. It’s a beautiful morning and we are fueling up at a station on Kwame Nkrumah Avenue. The truth is you can’t stand still for 30 seconds. They are all over the place.
We are moving in a northerly direction to turn westwards at Diema towards Kayes. The Consul has again, offered to escort us all the way to Kayes (a 10-11 hour trip) to return the next day so we continue to the Senegalese border and then on to Dakar.
In daylight, Bamako is such a naturally beautiful town. The different elevations of the town makes for a very beautiful vista as the sun hits differently on different protruding rocks and valleys. It’s spectacular.
The highway appears newly done but the crazy thing are the type of and quantity of speed rumps on it. They are more like mini mountains and a lot of them. Our worn rotors are having to bite into the new pads to create new grooves to match the deformation. The process creates serious vibrations whenever the brakes are used.
We have a whole rest day ion Dakar so we will have the brakes looked at again there.
We are midway through the journey and the good road has ended. What lies before us is really not a road. It’s like an oware board for the gods. Swerve one, catch three for free. This road wins hands down over Wa – Tumu.
We have realized that the locals have created parallel roads in the mud on the sides of the road and these are a bit better. The road itself is elevated just like the Akosombo road whilst the sides are depressed since this is naturally a low lying area.
If you manage to get off the main potholed road into the plains, you can play in the mud all the way till you meet a culvert then you climb up unto the bad road again until you can descend and start all over again.
There are three active terrorist areas in this stretch where attacks are known to happen. We have been warned to stop far away anytime we see a herd of cattle crossing the road and to back up, prepared to turn and fire away at the slightest hint of trouble.
Apparently, the terrorists are able to cross the road with cattle to stop you whilst they flank you and deal with you mercilessly. We encountered around six of such roadblocks and we were ready for evasive action but luckily, they were all innocent cattle crossings.
Frank began to have fading brakes again because he had to drive very fast to keep up and stop quickly to prevent falling into holes. When he got over frustrated, he decided to join us in the off-roading heaven we were in.
A Lexus RX350 doesn’t have the skid plates all the other cars had so the inevitable eventually happened. Sump kissed the ground somewhere. Not broken or burst but dented badly at the oil intake point.
As the oil pump suffers to suck the oil, it reports low oil pressure which causes the ECU to disable the all wheel drive system amongst many others. Luckily it’s not broken so we can limp slowly towards Kayes and hopefully, find another mechanic to fix it.
Just before nightfall, we drove into Kayes and found one. He was shown what to do and then to replace the brakes as well.
On this same road, we began to have a small misfire. We couldn’t tell which cylinder or even the cause but 8 cylinders are plenty so we brute forced our way to Kayes. We couldn’t diagnose what was wrong and since there was no check engine light, we decided to look at it later.
We have just eaten some poor excuse for a steak and this hotel looks and feels like one of those old brothels around Accra New Town back in the day. Fully carpeted and stinking from years of abuse but we have no choice so we deal with it. Waiting patiently for dawn so we set off again.
WEDNESDAY 26th JULY 2023
This morning, we left Kayes at 5am and by 6:15, we’d covered the almost 100km to the border.
We’ve gone through the Malian side in Diboli and are waiting for some big man to come and process us into Senegal at Kidra.
The 780km or so from the border into Dakar is made of EXCELLENT roads. I’m so envious. The worst is over in terms of security concerns.
Our research shows that Senegalese police are quite troublesome so we are being careful but interestingly, we’ve gotten nothing but love from them so far. Let me not jinx it by speaking too soon.
Joe wanted some assistance with driving after we crossed Tambacounda so I obliged since Kwame was driving our team. That G63 is one hell of a machine. I enjoyed the deep rumbling sound and exceptional acceleration but I found out too quickly that there’s a limiter programmed to 127mph. Maybe when we return, we will ship the ECU off to J Kosi Degbor to let his man work some magic on it but even as it it now, the acceleration is crazy.
We discovered a tolled super highway before Dakar and the car came into its own. I took off like a bat out of hell and Frank gave me a hot chase. We played some fun and games. Eventually, we slowed down for the others to catch up.
Whilst we were coasting cooly around 160kmh, Frank came over the radio that some Maserati was misbehaving and needed to be taught a lesson. I couldn’t say no. It’s not everyday that one gets a super machine with unlimited roads.
Dude zipped past quickly. Maserati Levante. I hit the gas. I could see Joe gripping the arm rest from the corner of my eye but I no mind am sef. The chase was on. Dude saw us coming and increased speed but his ass was toast already.
We smoked him on the freeway till we entered light traffic where we could weave at top speed with stability and I could see him in the back struggling to corner.
At every stretch, we took him. Our advantage was the rapid acceleration since with our 127mph limiter we couldn’t attain any proper top speeds but we held high the flag of Ghana on a foreign road, built with the money of rich taxpayers like the Levante dude.
It took google asking us to turn off the highway, for us to relent and then wait for the rest of the team. Then in the evening I saw Solomon Kusi saying AMG edieben dieben and I laughed. Driving that car brought back the “akonta, yee di nduiii” joke. Sorry if you’ve not heard it nor understand. That’s your loss.
Dakar is just an awesome town. In fact, Senegal is super lovely and I’ll definitely be coming back soon for a bit more time. Bob Kotei met us in our hotel and later took us for dinner.
Our hotel had a night club and Kwadwo ended up there. Apparently, the clubs come alive after 2am opana had a blast. I was fast asleep.
THURSDAY 27th JULY 2023
REST AND MECHANIC DAY
We have a few issues. The G63 has a cracked windscreen and we want to replace it.
Our misfire has gotten worse.
We all need a new set of brakes.
Bob sent a translator and mechanic to assist us in their version of Abossey Okai. My signature chale wote, shorts and T shirt blended in nicely at the market and we got some really good deals.
It was determined that our plugs were faulty so we replaced them. That’s where everything fell apart. The mechanic installing the plugs inadvertently broke a connector from one of the oil control valves. This threw a check engine which in turn turned on the blinking low range gearbox light.
After changing the plugs, we got our power back but the lights stayed on. We couldn’t get the appropriate socket to buy so Kwame inserted the contacts directly into the valves and filled it with bostic. It held, even though the light is still on.
We will find a solution in Nouakchott tomorrow. We should be there very early and probably in time for lunch.
FRIDAY 28th JULY 2023
It’s 4am in Dakar. My engine is running. I’m waiting for the rest of the team. The car park is full because our hotel has a night club which only comes awake after 2am. People keep trooping in even at this time. Ok, leaving now.
Senegalese roads are excellent and we have covered the journey of 400km to the border town of Diama already. It’s just 7:45ish. The Senegalese officials here are very friendly. We are almost ready to cross a dam which separates Senegal from Mauritania.
We got to the Mauritanian side about 10 minutes ago and the officials are so hostile. Both their verbal and non verbal language are full of anger and bitterness.
The boss says he can’t let us cross so we should go to another town called Rosso. It’s apparently about 140km away. I have no energy to argue this but we have a lot of fuel so we will go.
Don’t forget we have already been exited from Senegal so we have to return for them to give us back our lassez passez so we can exit again from Rosso. That was easy. Senegal is a nice place.
We arrived in Rosso a while ago and the process for crossing is so haphazard. As a result, goro business thrives. There’s this guy who is trying to sort us out. He doesn’t want to discuss his fee, he says, until he is done. I don’t like business like that.
Biometrics done in Senegal, our goro boy has managed to get all 5 cars on one vessel. I guess I forgot to mention that the border crossing is by ferry. It’s smaller than any ferry I’ve seen or used in Ghana but half a loaf, ………
Our goro boy (Madike is his name), begins the process with vigor at the Mauritanian side. The officials are all corrupt, conniving thieves and every step commands some money. They mention figures and after you look at the dirty semi human standing in front of you with multi colored teeth, you ask yourself whether his whole family has ever sen that amount before.
An example is the lassez passez. All through from Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal, the average we pay is CFA50,000 to 75,000 (ghs1,000 to 1,500) for all 5 cars. This guy standing in the middle of this filth and fly infested structure called a border post wants 1,750 EUROS for the 5 cars. After frustrating us for so long, they accepted $500.
Then there’s charges for EVERYTHING. If they could charge for breathing I’m sure they’d do so. None of the outrageous charges is also receipted so you get the drift.
Saka was the first car out of the border and we followed. A police patrol team had been laying in wait at a junction and have stopped us. I won’t even get down to go and talk to them. I’m sure Saka will sort it out.
Dude says we have tinted cars and it’s an offense so we should follow him to the station. The way about 6 idiots in the bucket of their Hilux are brandishing AK47s, I’m not comfortable koraaa.
The rest of the cars inside the border have been called to take off their tints because they can’t arrest them u til they enter the country through the gate.
We are at the police station. Officer says we have to take the tint off and we do it.
Then he says there’s a fine for it and we say we are ready to pay.
Now he gets on the phone and rattles his language in a staccato tone for close to 10 minutes. He now says his boss says he should keep the cars for 48 hours before he releases them in addition to the fine et all.
One of the policemen who speaks passable English surreptitiously told us to get someone to speak to his boss so released a telephone number. When the boss heard the story, he refused to pick all other calls.
This same cop came to tell us not to sleep in that town under any circumstances. It’s already 5pm. We could have slept in a hotel and waited out the 48 hours but the agent also came to repeat the same story. I am worried now.
Every now and again, a Hilux passes by with gun toting renegades and it doesn’t sit well at all. We called the Ghanaian Consul in Nouakchott and he is making some calls to try and get us released.
I suggested to my guys that we should leave the 2 cars and go to Nouakchott. We can come back the next day with people from the consulate to try and solve it. The drive is just 250km (Accra – Kumasi) away. Soon, the consul asked us to go back for our cars.
They took us through some extra delaying tactics and confusion which ended up with my car running backwards into the Raptor and denting my bumper but that was no issue. We needed to get out of there now because it’s almost 7:30pm.
The dust settled and we hit the road with Takashi. We entered Nouakchott a little after 10pm. We went to visit the Consul and guess what, he had fufuo, banku, light soup with so many different types of fish and smoked Turkey groundnut soup. Chale, all the wahala of the day vanished and we dug into them.
He promised to escort us to the border with Morocco but that needed to be done in two stages because the country is so large. He actually is a businessman who also serves as our honorary consul so he took us midway to his base of operations Nouadibou. I’ll find time to write about Me. Felix Hattor one of these days but suffice to say, he blew me away with the scale of his operations.
SATURDAY 29th JULY 2023
We slept in till late (that’s 7am for me) and I went out looking for a car wash. I won’t describe what I found but I managed to clean the car just a little bit.
Our host took us with chale wotes and everything into Paul for breakfast. Quite some bougie stuff.
We then set off for Nouadibou after noon. He was in the lead with his diplomatic plated Landcruiser and we followed in a very fast convoy. If salutes could feed a person, I’m sure we wouldn’t eat again for the rest of our lives.
The drive was quite stressful because we encountered extreme heat and strong winds. The air was so hot that the cars performances dropped rapidly. Intake temperatures were so hot so fuel burn was crazy. The wind threatening to push you off the tarmac into the sand dunes on the sides meant that you drove straight with the steering wheel turned to one side to avoid being swept off.
Funny thing is that there are some places where the dunes have formed some high walls on the sides of the road. These momentarily break the wind when you pass through them and your initial correction becomes a turn. If you over correct this new turn, fishtail be that. Whilst you are struggling with this, you emerge back into the desert plains and the initial correction must be done all over again. However, you get used to this very quickly and your reflexes take over.
Despite all the research and preparation we did, there’s one thing which never occurred to any of us and which eventually failed us. We didn’t know the power of fine sand laden winds on paintwork.
We saw locals driving with all the front of their cars covered in a paste. Apparently, the paste prevents sandblasting as you speed through the dust. Because we didn’t know and so couldn’t prepare, all the forward facing parts of our cars like the bikers and lights appear as if some fine sandpaper has been used to take off all the lacquer. Sprayers in Accra will get work when the cars return anyway.
SUNDAY 30th JULY 2023
We woke up to a 6:30 breakfast because our projected time to the border is about 30 minutes. The border opens at 8 so the idea is to leave at 7:30.
We got to the border around 8:40. Our Consul smoothened all the channels for us and in no time, we were ready to go to the Moroccan side. This is where he left us and we have been so grateful for all his assistance. We have promised to retaliate whenever he sets foot in Accra.
The Moroccan border crossing went smoothly with no drama at all. It’s just like getting into an airport. The gendarmes are also so nice. They actually walk up to you and offer assistance if they see you don’t understand what’s going on. If only their next door neigbours would learn. The cars were scanned through some giant scanners and we were sent on our way.
I’m no geo political enthusiast and in all the research I did, there was a country called Western Sahara sandwiched in between Morocco and Mauritania. It’s a wasteland of nothing, unless of course but I hear they have a lot of phosphates.
Apparently, there’s some maneuvering going on and so where we entered is no longer Western Sahara but rather, Morocco now. The distance between this border and original Morocco is over 800km of absolutely nothing. If you attempt to drive in that area without extra cans of petrol, you are toast. I now understood why most vehicles in the area were diesel powered. They have longer range and so they can survive the long distances between stations.
The wind has gotten worse and it’s extremely cold. We have driven for a while and we are all quite tired. We have decided to call off the trip to Laayoune but rather to stop in Dakhla. We want to rest and take off early to attempt to go beyond Laayoune.
At Dakhla junction, it was still light and we asked some police men whether there was any town ahead with a hotel. They did the usual things our people in the villages do when you ask how far a place is. They usually say it’s right here.
When we got the road, we discovered that they had sent us towards a 300km journey. We hit the road. At a point in time, I vaguely remember a very nice feeling and I was so relaxed. I was actually dreaming and it took Kwame’s screams to bring me back awake to realize I was fast asleep and heading off the road at 160kmh and over.
I woke up shaken but full of adrenalin which boosted me up and we kept on going as if nothing had happened.
We arrived at the town called Boujdour. We had some passable meal bi and during that time, asked around for their best hotel. One was highly recommended so we went there. It was crappy and they didn’t have enough rooms for all of us so Saka, Kwame, Richard and myself set off looking for another one.
We found one and as soon as they said they could give us 4 rooms, we took our stuff, paid and went up to the rooms.
Dirt, stench and noise greeted us when we entered the rooms. I couldn’t even bring myself to touch anything so I walked with my bag back out.
I met Kwame in the corridor and he said he was coming for the car key to go and sleep in it. I told him to join the queue. We both went down and crashed in the two front seats.
The wind was so strong that it kept rocking the car all night so I didn’t really sleep well. Saka’s truck was parked directly in front of me. At a point in time, I heard the engine grunt to life.
I just hit the brake pedal, started the engine whilst at the same time, lifting up the back of my seat. I lowered the window and said “Kwadwo let’s go”. It was 5am.
Richard ambled down. Apparently, he couldn’t bring himself to touch the bed either so he sat on his suitcase and did some work all through the night.
We hit the road to pick the other guys from the other forkin hotel and that was it. I don’t touch any water to even brush my teeth all day till we arrived at our new destination, Agadir late afternoon.
We found a motel which had a full Total service station, restaurant and most importantly, was right next to the highway for rapid exit at dawn. Oil service, fuel fill-up, car wash, a hot meal, shower and then bed, in that order. Sleep came fast.
MONDAY 31st JULY 2023
My brother Kwame has a meeting in Amsterdam on Wednesday so I have to drop him at Casablanca airport, 4hrs away from our hotel. We left at 4am. The idea was to drop him, meet up the other guys and then go to town and sleep.
For varied reasons, some team members will be crossing into Algeciras after August 3rd.
After dropping Kwame off, I spoke with Saka and we agreed to visit the Ghanaian High Commissioner in Rabat since it’s so close. I got there, Saka and Frank came in and we had a good interaction with the Embassy staff.
I met two young ladies there who had an issue and were looking to to get assistance from the Mission. One was 32 years old. Been in Morocco for the past 20 months. Her uncle in Spain paid for her to come but the connection men took her to Morocco and abandoned her. Her objective now is to hustle and get some connection to Spain.
The second one is 18 years old. She graduated SSS and got a job at one of these Airbnb “brothels”. If you are familiar with that market in Accra, she worked specifically at the one near Shiashie. The very one where you dare not go near with your car because you’ll be tagged but I digress.
Whilst working there, she met a Moroccan lady who became her friend. This woman eventually told her to save money and she’d bring her to Morocco to work as a nanny.
She paid ghs4,800 to the woman and she was brought in. She works for the woman’s sister. Visa expired, no salary, and starving. She complained and they locked her out so she went to the embassy to report. The staff are trying to find an amicable solution to this.
My daughter is 17 so this story broke my heart. I offered to buy her a ticket to Ghana and she declined. She rather wanted to hide in our car boot to London or at least, just across the sea to Spain.
No amount of education I gave her would make her change her mind. Eventually, I saw what the challenge was. She had sold all she had to come. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father moved on with a new wife who sacked her from home. She’s hustled all her life.
When she came here, she took lots of pictures for the “gram” and all her friends know she’s making it big. Going back home beaten and bruised by life is not the kind of shame she wants to face in her life now.
When we finished at the embassy, we realized that the distance back to Casablanca was the same as onward to Tanger Med so we decided to push forward to see if we could buy tickets in advance for tomorrow.
We got here, got tickets for immediately and boarded. As I type, I’m on the way to Algeciras but Saka and Frank will be on the next one because the guy inspecting their queue was slow.
To be or not to be?
Will the Spanish authorities allow a GH registered car into their country?
If they do, we move. If they don’t, we ship the cars from Algeciras and fly to london to party anyway. Cheers
Kwabena Peprah is the writer
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