By taxi team Lipstick arrived at the Gabon embassy at 8.45h in order to obtain their visa for Gabon.
By Taxi to the Gabon embassy
All cell phones had to be handed over to security at the entrance and on enquiring the afternoon before the team was told to not wear any shorts but rather come in long pants.
At the reception a longish registration took place hereafter one had to sit in a queue awaiting a call from a lady sitting on a table.
HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE… (Google it if your French is bad)
The sign opposite the Gabon embassy does not refer to an open air toilet but rather to point 155 -15m from the edge off the road and the policeman is there to stop traffic for the convenience of visitors leaving the embassy and wanting to get back on the road…
Finally after about 1 hour team Lipstick had to fill out a visa application form and from there back into another queen where one has to wait for access to the cashier. Waiting another 45 minutes (patience is not a strength of team Lipstick) they were asked to pay 50.000, – Caf (about R 1000, –) and ordered to return at 3pm to collect the visas.
So back by taxi to the IBIS hotel where the next 5 hours was spend cleaning Lipstick up and update the Ela webpage.
The taxi driver again appeared at 2.30 this time to drive in front of Lipstick to the Gabon embassy as Lipstick would leave from there to Benin.
Shortly before the embassy Lipstick was ordered to stop by 2 policemen who wanted to see the driver licences and car papers. They then had to mention that it is not legal to have a rooftop box mounted and that the car may be overloaded. The taxi driver who waited in front now appeared on the scene and explained the situation in his own Togo Language.
Some minutes later the taxi driver mentioned to team Lipstick that there is no problem but the policemen were thirsty. Immediately a bottle of fines water was offered to the 2 policemen which did nothing but to cause a smile on their face. The powers to be must have realised that team Lipstick does not want to acknowledge the obvious and by then the one policemen with a big smile kept on rubbing his thumb against his pointing finger showing the team the international sign language for PAY PLEASE…..
As the team was pressed for time ( the Gabon embassy closes at 3.30pm ) they sadly passed on 2000 CAF and the problem with the roof carrier disappeared as fast as the smile on the faces of the 2 cops appeared………..
Another 30 minutes spent at the embassy and finally the last outstanding visa was on hand.
Kindly enough the taxi driver drove in front of Lipstick to guide them to the road to Benin and waiving Lipstick away.
Togo taxi making way for Lipstick
Some 60km later the border was reached and without any hassles and fixers passports and carnet where stamped and Lipstick proceeded to the Benin site of the border. Andre as on-board cameraman had his iPhone in full video mode much to the displeasure of a Benin security official who demanded to have a look at the camera. As he obviously did not know how to operate this wonderful smart phone he asked Andre to show him exactly what he was filming and Andre proceeded to tell him that team Lipstick only films landscapes of this beautiful part of the world ……. Of course he repeatedly had to press about half a dozen of delete buttons to make his latest videos disappear much to the disbelief of the official who now really could no longer find any evidence of border espionage.
Off to the Benin offices on both sides of the road and again easy procedures put team Lipstick on the road some 30 minutes later…
What started as a wonderful 4 lane highway soon became a normal country road and about 50km later it became a gravel road with the sun slowly disappearing at the horizon.
As darkness set in the road became more of a mud road obviously suffering from a nice rainfall in the afternoon. The potholes became bigger and created small lakes of unknown depths so it was wise to just follow some trucks and cars to enable the team to judge the various depth levels. In 2011 team Lipstick named the road to Moabit in northern Kenia as the worst bit of civil engineering (often known to other over landers as the road to hell) but what they were facing now made the Moabit road look like a road to heaven…
There was continuous hooting by trucks, bikes and cars choosing the best lane on the road to be either left or right causing oncoming traffic to blow their hooters at full loudness and flashing all available lights on board. There were broken down cars on both sides creating an alley of horror. Some 20km before Cotonou the traffic came to a full stop for about 1.5hours.
A car trying to cross lanes in front of lipstick
There are cars hooting all over , lights flashing , police cars with sirens and uniformed soldier blowing their whistles whilst street vendors were offering their menus of the day and others offering petrol in 1l water bottles to those who ran out of fuel.
Team Lipstick often thought that they are in the wrong movie but some pictures and videos can prove that they so far met with the maximum of African traffic chaos that might exist.
At around 9.30pm the traffic got moving again and the team passed the culprit of this catastrophe in the form of a huge horse and trailer lying on its site and blocking all the lanes available. A bit of detour over the street sites and 10minutes later the approach road to Cotonou was reached and with the help of the Garmin and Google map accommodation was found which luckily still had a restaurant open till 11pm.