Book 2, Chapter 30
Off to the Benin border.
No visa, and no idea what’s going to happen...
Time to roll the dice. I’m nervous.
Togo is such a geographically skinny country that a street sign at a roundabout points to the right and says “Frontière Ghana” and points to the left and says “Frontière Benin”.
Whichever way you turn, you end up in a different country.
Left it is.
I get out of Togo easily enough. I ask anyone I come across about whether or not I can buy a Benin visa on this side of the post, so that I don’t get stuck in limbo between the countries if they reject me.
“Non. Pas ici.” Okay, that’s expected, I guess..
"Eh la cotay Benin?"
“Non. Pas la aussi” What?? I can't get one on the other side either??
“Ce necessare d'allay a Lome.” Everyone's been saying that; I can't get it here, and I can't get it on the Benin side either; I have to go back to Lome...
I know that there’s nothing that I can do back in Lome; they don't have a fucking embassy there...
I’m gonna have to just suck it up and take my medicine...
I'm greeted with the Benin flag, and a cop. He stops me and demands my passport. He’s not gonna be happy that there’s no visa... Here we go...
He’s more interested in where I’ve been, fingering slowly through my passport, page by page, asking about the countries, always replying with - and I'll skip the French - “On this bike?”
“Uh huh. This one”
He lands on a new page. “Nigeria!?”
“On this?!” he points at the bike.
“Yup.” He shakes his hand like he burnt his fingers.
“You need a visa?”
“Erm, yeah, yeah I do.”
It's a fucking breeze.
Transit visa, pasted and stamped. Which now gives me precisely forty eight hours to leave the country again. 10,000 CFA, which is about twenty bucks.
Forty eight hours to Nigeria...
I should be more careful what I wish for.
The Douanes didn’t ask me for anything other than the bikes rego to write me up a laissez-passer.
I skate away into Benin after a pretty well organised border, with 16,000CFA spent – about 33 bucks in all – with full papers.
The whole damn thing was pretty quick and painless; most of the drama was happening between my ears...
I think there’s a lesson in that somewhere...