I just had 70km to go to the border but I set off early, not overly confident in the embassy’s assurances that the border guards had been told I was to be allowed through. I wasn’t feeling fantastic but there was no headwind and little traffic so the ride to the border was pleasant enough.
The Ghanaian side was deceptively simple: I handed over my usual photocopies and had my details entered into various books, got an exit stamp, and went over to the Ivorian side. That was not so straightforward.
They unsurprisingly wanted to see my laissez passer. My attempted explanation that the embassy had arranged things was ignored; no doubt partly a result of my poor French. I tried to call my contact at the embassy but got no response. Locals were crossing freely but I was not even allowed to wait at the Ivorian side of the border; the guards clearly didn’t believe I had permission.
I retreated a hundred yards or so back into no-man’s-land, and laid down to wait for the embassy to get back to me. I was there for a few hours. Finally, my contact called me and I handed the phone over to the guards. He explained the situation and, although they still weren’t letting me through, they became a lot friendlier. I was allowed to wait by their guard post.
There were lots of phone calls between the embassy and the interior ministry. Eventually one of the guards came over to me and said “c’est bon.” I was in!
I went through the immigration formalities, got my stamp, then went and checked into a hotel. The manager gave me a lift on his motorbike to somewhere that I could exchange money; I bought a sim card there too. On the way back I made the most of being back in a French-speaking country: I stopped at a bakery and got a pain au Chocolat.
I set off cycling the next morning on a pleasantly quiet road, mostly riding past palm plantations, and some rubber. At one point, I moved a short distance along a path into one, to stop and take a break. While I was sitting, a motorcycle nearly crashed into me, doubtless distracted by the fact his bike was on fire! I threw my water on it and some sand and the fire went out.
It started to get a bit busier later in the day as I passed through some larger towns.
In the afternoon I began to feel unwell. I laid down in the shade for a couple hours, during which I threw up a few times. My best guess for the cause was heat exhaustion, combined with the fact I was unused to cycling after a few weeks of lazing around.
I didn’t really get that much better. Eventually I moved on but could barely go 2 kilometres at a time before the nausea was overwhelming and I had to lie down. After a few short cycling sections I reached a village, where I checked into a hotel. It didn’t have a fan or AC, but I didn’t have much choice. For most of the night I went and dunked my head in a bucket of water every half an hour or so to try and stay relatively cool.
I wasn’t feeling great by morning but I thought I was well enough to cover the remaining 40km to Grand Bassam, where there was a hostel popular with overlanders where I hoped to stay the weekend before going into Abidjan, the capital, for more visa applications. After about 20km it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to go much further. I staggered around a couple hotels, which were either full or very expensive. There were several hotels marked on my map in a section of town about a kilometre away from the main road. This turned out to be a kilometre of pushing through sand, after which I was very glad to find there was indeed a hotel there. It was reasonably cheap, even for a room with AC.
I stayed there for a few days. Initially the rest helped me feel a little better, but then I started getting worse again. I had no appetite and hadn’t really eaten for several days. I was constantly throwing up, unable to sleep, and hallucinating. I contacted Chloe, the operator of the hostel in the next town and she arranged a taxi to pick me up. I was very grateful; there was no way I could have walked the kilometre back to the main road.
I tested positive for Malaria. I’d been sick for a while before getting tested and was looking a bit yellow from jaundice. I was prescribed a series of injections as well as a whole host of pills – 14 a day!
I returned to Chloe’s and checked in there. There were various rooms but I needed one with AC because my body wasn’t moderating it’s temperature well. Over the next few days I started to feel better, and my appetite returned.
While I was sick, I’d considered the possibility that I might need to go home to recover. Rather than dreading that prospect, it actually seemed quite appealing. I wasn’t that excited about the next couple of months of cycling and really wanted a break. Although I was getting better, I decided I would fly home and take that break anyway. I booked a flight, collected a bike box from Decathlon, and headed home.
Aug 5: 68 km
Aug 6: 98 km
Aug 7: 21 km