Ndjole, Gabon

  • Date
  • 12 May 2000
  • Lodging
  • Nyadzame Papaye
  • Distance
  • 297 KM
  • Total
  • 73624 KM

I was awakened several times during the night by the sound of thunder attached to explosive lightning brightening the black sky. We rose at 6 a.m., as we knew the drive ahead would be tough over slippery, muddy mountainous terrain. The first stretch was paved until a rain gate blocked further passage and the police advised us the upcoming road was not passable. We convinced them we would succeed and they allowed us to proceed. I had knots in my stomach over the upcoming drive.

Recent road construction via bulldozers produced a smooth, slick, muddy path over very steep mountainous terrain. One pass uphill was just deep mud waiting to capture our car. Two trucks sat in the mud stew unable to escape, making me even more nervous about the crossing. Jim walked to survey the road returning with red mud up to his ankles. After 45 minutes of investigating and even getting out our sand ladders, we drove through the pass without struggle.

On the slick mud, the trailer forced our car to swerve almost out of control several times – once just before a narrow, one-lane bridge over a river far below. Fortunately we did not slip off the bridge into the water. Afterwards we proceeded slower – 10 to 20 km per hour – until reaching another mud pass, which was not freshly bulldozed making the surface not as slippery. Jim increased his speed by a hair, but was forced to halt when we reached several mud pits where I put the car in four-wheel drive, activated two or three of the Diff locks and shifted into lower gear.

We survived the day and now Jim proclaims himself a ‘rally driver’.