Page 2 of LuBarnham Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Nigeria June 24th 2009

Behind a driver in a floppy white hat, and in the company of about sixteen Nigerians and Beninois, we cruised into the huge country that had occupied our thoughts and governed our plans for some time now. It was no joyride, this first journey into Nigeria. The intense prayers led by passengers on every bus that we took (‘dear lord, protect us from the blood-sucking demons on the highway’) showed how every journey undertaken was laden with a certain sense of vulnerability and danger. Smurf-hat had to pull the minibus over at every police check we came to, and we trooped off board to sweet-talk the officials, shuffle our way out of any bribes, and have our details entered again, and again, and again, in ledgers—the type of ledgers with mottled covers, and a box to ... read more
Afi Mountain Drill Ranch
Botanical Gardens, Calabar
A Beautiful Neighbour, Ibadan

Africa » Togo June 15th 2009

Enter Togo, by means of the least likely looking dirt road imaginable. That there can be both a Ghanian and Togolese immigration Post at the end of this meagre country road, where the grass grows as tall as men and trees abound, seems impossible, and yet there they are. Only a few passengers produce passports and receive entry and exit stamps; the majority hand over folded notes of local currency to the border officials and resume their seats in the truck. After purchasing a visa in a nearby one horse town, we're dropped off in Kpalime. I want to call it a city, but can't - its just a small town - but it feels like a city in the sense that you can breathe in the belched black fumes of a dozen cars just by ... read more
spider in Kouma Konda
Kouma Konda
Kouma Konda

Africa » Ghana June 5th 2009

And so we come to Ghana, on the hunt for the Nigerian visa. Seth has arranged to take some photos for a development charity called Trax Ghana and thus we base ourselves in the little touristed northern city of Bolgatanga for a few days. It is a compact, hassle-free town, with chilled out folks getting on with their daily business and absolutely no children asking for presents - amazing. We meet Vincent, the regional director, over dinner and he explains about the projects Trax have been working on, and arranges to pick us up the next day to drive us out to see them (I figure I’ll come along with pen and paper, and try not to get in anyone’s way.) Come morning, however, the situation is such that it is not possible for me to ... read more
Vincent with Onions
Notes in Gare Village

Africa » Burkina Faso May 16th 2009

As we entered Burkina Faso the border official stamped a one week visa in our passports. Naturally it felt a little restrictive, but it was a good thing, preventing us from dawdling and forcing us to pick up the pace. South Africa felt a whole world and too many thousands of miles away, and our aim to reach it often became clouded by the glories and distractions of the here and now. We’d given over a fortnight to Morocco and the Western Sahara, 9 days in politically dubious Mauritania, 10 to tiny Gambia, and even our sometime nemesis, Senegal, had eaten 9. As for giant Mali, with its absolute abundance of things to see, we’d taken 15 days. ‘This is good,’ we convinced each other, eyeing the modestly dated Burkina stamps, ‘we’ll just have to take ... read more
near Banfora
Sindou Peaks

Africa » Mali May 9th 2009

In Bamako, we took a box of a room - the kind dead bodies might be found in come morning - and I think you could even say we relaxed. Certainly we slowed down. Road travel in the Gambia and Senegal had drained our energy and we were flat like pancakes; emergency! Bring on the Vietnamese food, Castel beers and glowing riverside sunsets! Seriously, there is nothing like beef Saigonese style and a view out over the Niger River as the sky turns golden to soothe the impact of eighteen hours of the stench of illness and a soundtrack of baby screams. Less calming was Bamako's Grand Marche, which was so busy I literally felt high walking around it, trying not to trip over the guinea fowl and severed bulls’ heads in the butchers’ section, then ... read more
Mud Mosque in Mopti
On the Niger River
Tomb of the Askia

Africa » Gambia April 26th 2009

Fifty kilometres; it was an inoffensive distance to travel between the villages of Bintang and Tendaba. On the map, it was a mere wiggle, a jubilant jump eastwards then westwards, passing a handful of small villages. In my head, I had us relaxing beside the Gambia River by lunchtime, eating chicken and chips with our feet propped on garden chairs. We had been camping, badly, for two days and nights now, and were orange with road dust, ready for some R&R. Here’s how the fifty kms treated us: Phase one - A lift from Bintang village to Sibanor village, where we hope to flag a giri-giri minibus. The lift goes well; we ride alongside a huge basket of ripe red tomatoes and we only break down once. Phase two - A whole hour by the roadside, ... read more
Kankaran Dance

Africa » Gambia » Lower River April 18th 2009

Encircled by loud, angry men who literally herd us towards the bus to Mbour while spraying us both with a fine layer of whisky tainted spittle, it is at least satisfying to know that this will be the last of our Dakar experiences. When you have been hustled, hassled, followed by thieves and robbed, even an overcrowded bus begins to look good, as long as it is going somewhere - anywhere - away from the city. While Seth runs off to get some water, I perch on a fold-down aisle seat of questionable stability, and unsurprisingly find myself being yelled at again. With tired eyes, I look up to see who it is this time. Ah, it's the drunk conductor, telling me to shove Seth's camera bag onto the dirty floor beneath my seat. Smiling, I ... read more

Africa » Senegal April 11th 2009

The journey from Rabat to Laayoune, in the Western Sahara, took a full 21 hours. Late at night we paused in Agadir, and while sleepy-eyed passengers ate tajines and salads, I sighed in relief to know that, from here on in, we would not be doubling back on ourselves - equipped with our Mauritanian visas, our journey south into the unknown would now begin. The sky was full of stars and when the sun finally rose, it was over desert scrub as far the eye could see in one direction and with royal blue ocean in the other. This was Western Sahara, not quite its own country but not quite Moroccan either. The disputed region seemed to hang in a strange limbo and for hundreds of miles you would see nothing but sand and the occasional ... read more
chinguetti dunes
chinguetti dunes

Africa » Morocco » Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer » Rabat March 25th 2009

We slept at Stansted Airport. I say we, but in truth Seth slept and I woke up every fifteen minutes freezing cold and wondering why my wrist was in so much pain. Realising that this was in fact due to vigorous cleaning of the oven before moving out of our flat the previous afternoon, I knew it was my most pathetic war wound to date. Such banalities, I thought, will at least be left behind for the next six months, while in Africa... yet here I am hand washing my clothes and hanging them out on the balcony to dry. I guess some banalities follow you (though I don't think they were on the same plane as us...) Twelve hours later, we were sat at a beach bar in Agadir, trying to convince each other that ... read more
Cascades DOuzoud

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Oxfordshire » Abingdon February 15th 2009

Having spent the past three days with a bastard of a winter flu-style head cold I am now coming out the other side of a lethargic bed and sofa ridden weekend, and my head is finally clearing - time for a blog. The African Alphabet draws ever closer and we find we are frequently turning to each other, gawping, saying, ‘My god, it’s only three weeks. We’ve got to do blah blah and blah…’ How can you really prepare for something like this - a six month journey to the world’s second-largest, most varied continent, trying to visit a place for each letter of the alphabet, and in order? We’ve done an alphabet trip before, the Asian Alphabet in 2004, and I don’t think we even realised we’d embarked on it until we found ourselves plonked ... read more

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