Calabar is the nicest Nigerian city I have visited so far. Most of the city is well-organized and surrounded by a natural forest. In Calabar, I come across well-informed and experienced Cameroonian consulate staff. Armand had struggled to get a Schengen visa to visit Europe. He says he once had a terrible experience in Germany, where no one could share with him a train or bus seat. With the understanding of the complexities of traveling, Armand processes my Cameroonian visa within ten minutes. I pay the regular price of a hundred US dollars. Armand also offers to show me around Calabar.

I would soon discover that Nigeria is the giant of Africa, with 168.8 million people. The giant is predicted to surpass the South African economy in a few decades. Having read and heard a lot about Nigeria, I realize the negative parts surpass the positive ones. Having encountered such numerous issues cycling here, I encourage myself to be open-minded enough for good things. I started to see Nigeria’s complexity while abroad, which didn’t say much about its enlightening writers. Nigeria is the perfect evidence of distinctive African civilizations and the significant interruption of the system. Ports and cities which had mushroomed due to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade dot the country from the south coast to the north.

***

Botswana, 6:30 pm. The sky looks like that piece of colorful cloth with a picture of elephants, giraffes, or Mt. Kilimanjaro. Silhouetted against a setting sun, it’s a lovely image and one for which tourists pay a small fortune to take back home with them. This land of little change, except the raised midday temperature and the wind direction, sunrise, and sunset, are unchanging.

A long day, long straight roads. I almost thought myself mad for traveling by bike. The silence of this vast empty land gives me the chance to wander deep within my mind and find the possible reason behind what I am up to. These moments were interrupted from time to time by huge trucks passing with such force that I wobbled like a drunkard. Most of them, on their front and rear, display the phrase ‘Hakuna Matata.’ I try to convince myself trouble isn’t lurking anywhere. 

I thought every day was my last. I vowed never again to be that stupid, but I eventually found myself in Cape Town, South Africa. I found Botswana to be one of the most boring countries to cycle in – it’s not an excuse for losing my emotion and enthusiasm in this country! As I sit in my room, with memories of Botswana floating in my mind, I stare at the map of the world I have up on the wall. I draw a line of my planned route and estimate the distance to be about 50,000 miles. No matter how small this map appears and how I try to pronounce the number, I still can’t find a reason to smile!