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  FROM BENIN TO EGYPT, THE CONCLUSION
June 9th 2007 – DAY 725
 

HEADING TO BENIN
We’re about to leave Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s trashcan Capital, for a safari-photo in Benin’s Savanna. During 4 days, we will furrow the roads of the Pendjari Park searching for these huge mammals we see on National Geographic.

We are preparing our bags. We reduce the weight of our luggage and try not to forget anything. Everything’s there: binoculars, camera, tripod, zooming lens and drugs against malaria. The useless material is stored in our neighbors’ room, two Quebecois on a humanitarian mission.

Wednesday morning, the car driver picks us up at our hotel. We get to the Benin frontier, at the South-East extremity of the country, 7 hours away. We spend our first night in a hotel equipped of the largest pool in Burkina Faso. To tell the truth, it isn’t bigger than a municipal pool in Quebec! Nonetheless, we were glad to take advantage of it.

 

Dissolving reserves
For some weeks now, the temperature is around 47 °C without the humidity aspect. The unbearable heat and the lack of food made us lose 18 pounds each. Not that we really needed it! We just hope to keep our bone marrow! Patrick lost his belt, his pants are held by a piece of string. On our first night, we didn’t sleep much. We would wake up and try to cool ourselves under the warn shower.

 

a sad sight
Before seeing the slightest part of sun, we leave to reach the border. On our way, we are confronted to extreme poverty, a sad sight that makes us feel powerless. For several weeks now, we’ve been living in difficult conditions. We pass in front of children with empty tin cans, hoping to meet a charitable person that will donate some coins. We are overwhelmed by the situation. The smallest piece of bread would be enough to make them smile.

Once the boarder crossed and the formalities done, we finally reach the Pendjari Park. The forest rangers inform us about the bad condition of the roads caused by the rain. We’ll have to be careful not to get stuck.


A vehicle, a cow, a donkey and 26 passengers

 

Getting out of the embarrassment
The path is getting worse and worse. We venture on a muddy road… That’s it, we get stuck! The vehicle refuses to move. The more we try to get out of there, the more we sink. Fortunately, our guide has great experience and is alerted. He always carries sand sheets that he slides under the wheels. After an hour of effort, the 4x4 gets unstuck at last.

A few minutes later, we notice a leak in the radiator. The engine starts to overheat, but our guide rapidly fixes the problem by sticking tobacco and chewing gum in the radiator. Believe it or not, it works! The tobacco and the chewing gum, added with water, form a paste that patches the crack.

Night falls. We immediately have to return to the Park’s hotel. No one is authorized to be in the Park during night time. There are ferocious nocturnal animals, very ferocious. At last, we will spend a night with air-conditioning. The next morning, we meet a German researcher who got more unlucky than we did. Like us, his truck got stuck in mud shortly before darkness. However, a couple of lions got closer. It was out of question for him to get out of the vehicle. So he spent the night observing them and trying to get some sleep.

 

Thousands of wild animals
We continue our route with our eyes wide open. It’s our last day in the reserve and we still haven’t seen savanna elephants, the biggest land mammal. At 5h30 in the morning, the sun begins to shine on the field and the mist slowly disappears. It’s the best moment for animal observation. We pass by dozens of hippopotamuses.

Finally, our efforts are rewarded. We see three elephants. What a sensation! Our guide drives while we take advantage of the sight from the top of the truck when suddenly, a herd of about a hundred buffaloes cut across the path lifting a cloud of dust. The ground shakes. Impressive!

It’s time to get back. We return to Ouagadougou tired and excited of our adventure. Even if this experience cost us a considerable part of our savings, it was worth it.

 


Lasers and lights on the pyramids

two weeks in egypt
On Caroline’s demand, who didn’t want to leave Africa without seeing Egypt, we spent two weeks there. We don’t usually explore a country in that little time and stick to touristic tours. Unfortunately, we’re constantly harassed by salesmen, false guides, restaurants, hotels… The list is too long.

 

We visit Cairo and its famous pyramids during a sound and light show. We sail on the Nil and explore the tombs and palaces of kings. For the first time, we are disappointed of our exchanges with the population. However, we feel responsible of not taking time to know the real Egytians, the ones who live beyond he beaten path.

Sailboat on the Nil

 

We briefly stop in France, in the Poitiers region in order to meet with a company specialized in aerial photography. Patrick, who discovered himself a true passion for image, would like to make a profession out of it.

 

The journey back
On June 9, it’s our big journey back home. We our back amongst our family and friends. We have missed them so much during the last months. We are happy and proud of our experience. It will forever be engraved in our hearts and memories. We met hundreds of people and explored amazing parts of the world. We’ll never see these characters again, now part of a fabulously true story, but they’ll always be part of our memories.

Today, we try to use our adventure to guide us in our daily life. Patrick is presently working on workshops-conferences about traveling and working overseas. These conferences aim young people between 16 and 35 years old. The goal is to give future world-travelers all the necessary tools for them to realize their dreams. The whole will be accompanied with a photo exposition of the most beautiful images of our adventure. As for Caroline, she is looking for a job in her field of study: biology. She would like to teach in order to pass on her love of life.

We intend to publish a book about our adventures, offer people the possibility of obtaining some of our pictures, and present a conference about this 725 day journey.

 

our last words
Thank you for your fidelity. We hope that our story will have given you the motivation needed to reach your objectives and live one day at a time, because after all… we are responsible for our own happiness.

 

« Dreams must not stay in your head, they must live out. »

 

To see all the road diaries  To see all the corresponding pictures

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