Andrew Loden made a long-held dream come true when he and his spouse Helen took a motorbike journey from Europe down the size of Africa on the west aspect, after which again north up the east aspect of the continent within the yr earlier than COVID hit the world.
The son of Doug and Kathie Loden of Weyburn, he confirmed images and movies taken all alongside the journey, solely making it about midway by means of his epic journey, with the second half to be featured on April 22 in one other Zoom presentation.
The dream first took maintain when he was round 14 years outdated, whereas dwelling in Uganda along with his household, as his father Doug was a missionary, and he met a bunch of German motorcyclists on giant BMWs. Impressed by their tales of using down from Germany all by means of Africa, he determined he wished to do that sometime.
He and spouse Helen determined they may make the journey, with every having sure targets they wished for this journey. For Andrew, he wished to trip the iron ore prepare in Mauritania, whereas one among Helen’s goals was to trip a camel.
Andrew defined that to arrange for his presentation to the Rotary Membership, he went by means of about 20,000 images, hoping to whittle them all the way down to about 100. He ended up getting the images all the way down to round 360, and determined to make a two-part presentation because it lined such an enormous distance.
Previous to his African journey, he had taken a motorbike journey from Edmonton to South America, hoping 9 months can be lengthy sufficient to see most of that continent. He discovered he underestimated how lengthy the journey would take, and made it so far as Bolivia earlier than turning round and going house.
Taking a few of the classes discovered from that journey, he and Helen deliberate out the African journey, together with lining up the vaccine pictures they wanted, and placing collectively sufficient insulin and medicine to deal with his diabetes by means of the lengthy trip forward.
Additionally they appeared into the visas they would wish, together with journey insurance coverage, and found that in the event that they crossed into a rustic that Canada formally said that Canadians mustn’t journey to, any journey insurance coverage can be void in that nation. Additionally, a minimum of two of the international locations they had been planning to journey by means of, Ghana and Nigeria, required that an individual may solely apply for a visa from the nation they’re a resident of.
The couple landed in England, and spent a while touring by means of Wales and Eire earlier than heading to Continental Europe, they usually took two months to journey by means of France, Portugal and Spain earlier than taking a ferry over to Tangiers, Morocco, and starting their African portion of the journey.
The images showcased the trip down the west coast of Africa, with an extended portion of their travelling alongside the sting of the Sahara desert on the east aspect and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
There have been additionally twisty mountain roads, they usually stopped to see many fascinating websites, together with tanneries in Fez, places on the sting of the Sahara used within the filming of films like Gladiator and Recreation of Thrones, and a five-kilometre stretch of no-man’s land between Morocco and Mauritania that’s closely land-mined.
One cease took them to one of many oldest libraries in Africa, the place a librarian confirmed them items that had been a minimum of 1,000 years outdated, after which after all, they met the iron ore prepare which Andrew wished to trip after seeing posts about it on-line.
Outfitted with turbans and blankets, they had been advised in the event that they wished to climb up on sure ore automobiles, they may trip the prepare totally free.
Whereas using the prepare, some fellow riders had been cooking tea and the embers caught his turban on hearth, which he had throw off. The person who lit the fireplace gave Andrew his turban for the steadiness of the trip.
As they had been pelted with mud, he found he ought to have worn snowboarding goggles to maintain the mud out of his eyes.
Later within the journey, the Lodens met a fellow traveler from China who advised them he had been using a motorbike since 1986. He spent 13 years travelling all by means of China, and since 2000 he’s been using by means of the remainder of the world. The person was on his 13th bike since beginning his world travels.
The couple accompanied him to the border of Mali and Senegal, they usually bumped into some difficulties.
“Everybody’s corrupt at that border, a lot greater than anyplace else I’ve been. He adopted us there, and all of us paid (the border officers). He was screaming and crying by the point we noticed him on the opposite finish, and we by no means noticed him once more after that,” mentioned Andrew.
The panorama began to alter in Senegal, as they noticed their first baobob tree. This nation additionally had an enormous statue purchased from North Korea that value round $50 million, put in by a corrupt chief.
As they travelled on, they wished to keep away from the tiny nation of Gambia, as it could have required one other visa on the different border, so that they took a ferry boat round this nation.
One of many international locations the place their journey insurance coverage was void was Mali, however they took the danger of going by means of part of that nation that was “moderately good”, near the coast.
Alongside the way in which, a n uncommon sight on the Niger River merited some investigating, they usually discovered there have been males who took a ship to the center of the river to dive down and scoop up sand from the river’s backside, to be used in making concrete. Andrew was in a position to get a trip on this boat, and located that this crew labored seven days per week all yr spherical doing this work, taking place to scoop up sand one bucket at a time, incomes about $2 or $3 a day.
The Lodens met a Japanese couple in Burkina Faso, who was in a position to give them recommendations on travelling on, together with the right way to get a visa into Nigeria. They did it by paying the tax on a buddy’s utility invoice, taking it to a police station, and from there to a authorities workplace the place they obtained a visa for Nigeria.
One of many extra uncommon sights was a coffin-carving store, the place an individual may get a coffin in any form one wished. In case you are a pilot, you will get a plane-shaped coffin, or for those who’re a banker, one formed like a stack of payments.
The journey took them into Ghana after that, they usually had been in a position to take a safari to see elephants.
“This was extraordinarily low cost in comparison with East Africa, the place you’d pay $500 for a similar factor,” mentioned Andrew, including they then had stops in a few tiny international locations, Togo and Benin, on the east aspect of Ghana, then earlier than exiting Nigeria they employed a police escort to the border with Cameroon, and Gabon, the place they crossed the Equator. Andrew famous that in Gabon, an American environmentalist some years in the past satisfied the federal government to put aside about 10 per cent of the nation to be protected as a pristine jungle.
As they rode by means of Gabon, roadside shacks would generally function animals caught from the jungle, like a small deer or monkey, that individuals may purchase for meat.
A few of the roads on this space had been extraordinarily treacherous once they had been moist, and one evening was spent in a metal container on the highway that received them out of the rain and off the muddy roads. They didn’t escape the unhealthy roads, nevertheless, as there have been spots the place they received caught, or needed to undergo deep swimming pools of water within the highway.