Finding a boat to take me to Benin from Gabon was suspiciously easy.
I arrived in Libreville after my first ever Africian night train.
It was swanky first class for me, after I was assured second class was sold out.
later, I would find out, while exploring an empty train, that was a lie.
The moment I arrived in Libreville, I dropped my bag off at Hotel Lieberman, a mission, my twelve year old guide book recommended as the cheapest option.
Did looking like a messiah get me a discount?
In fact, Noel, the manager and part time Santa Clause told me that the cheapest rooms were no longer available.
Mmmhummm, I murmured, shaking my head suspiciously.
I walked to Port Mole and initiated Strategy: knock on doors and ask about Benin.
It took three buildings.
To provide some perspective for how easy it was to find a boat to Benin.
It took me half of South Africa and all of Mozambique to find a boat to take me to Madagascar.
Eventually leaving from the port in Dar Es Salaam.
I went from yacht clubs to shanty piers for thousands of miles.
Narrowly escaping being beaten by hammers in Nacala, Mozambique.
Because I asked a group of drunken men to ferry me across the straight.
In Durban, South Africa I was laughed at.
“Madagascar, like the Movie?”
Becoming desperate, I radioed shipping vessels from a borrowed CB radio, asking if any boat could take me to Madagascar?
At every single turn I was told it was impossible to arrive at Madagascar, by boat.
Day after day, week after week for months.
At first I was relieved at how easy it was to find a boat going to Benin.
4 hours after arriving in Libreville, I found myself in a small hidden office with four men, telling me that a boat leaves for Benin on the 22nd of October, the cost: 110,000 Francs.
It was Tinder, easy.
Learning how to braid your own hair via a YouTube tutorial, easy.
Skip the dishes because you’re too stoned to use an elevator, easy.
Great, I thought, I can relax here in Libreville for a week, then go.
Not my brain.
It all started with a question.
Is this why you came to Africa?
Later that night, laying in my bed, in the shanty church run by Santa Clause, I became a vicious dueling regime.
One part, you didn’t come to Africa to bypass three countries.
The other, fuck it! You found a boat!
What a gift!
ACCEPT THE GIFT BOBBY!
Eventually the “You can’t take a boat around three countries” won out, after a long exhausting night of mental introspection.
Like playing mortal kombat against yourself.
Two lu Kang’s fire ball’n one another.
When things become too easy, I find them boring, not worth doing.
Flying over “danger” for example, is too easy.
Learning French before coming to French Africa, too easy.
Sun screen, easy.
This fickle disposition has caused me great suffering.
To call it a “fickle disposition” is undermining the intensity of it.
I have a very powerful force in me with a specific expectation.
I walk and suffer because of this force.
Accomplishing a feat, like walking to Palestine from Mt Nebo, in Jordan, was downright insane, even after loosing a shoe.
The joy I felt entering the gates of Jerusalem was as close to nirvana as I could ever get, without using MDMA.
It was this inner hand that pushed me through the desert, the same hand that is pushing me through Africa.
Of course along the way, I get to make decisions like, turn left or right, take a pictures of those huge vultures circling me.
But the capacity to turn around and go back, was not possible.
Not at all possible.
All this to say, I’m less in control than you might think.
Of course my survival is paramount.
In cases where I feel real danger, I can ignore any magnetic directive to abandon my own safety.
It’s been my experience however, that this energy doesn’t wish me harm, it only wants me to challenge myself, challenge my reality.
There are times however, when after following this force for so long, that I sometimes can’t see alternative routes leading me away from potential hardship(s).
It’s here when I become mired in a swamp of self loathing, feeling trapped.
Damaged by my limitations.
Think Macguyver without a toothpick, ice cube or watch battery.
It’s the scene in Searching for Bobby Fisher when Josh is playing Chess against his teacher, Bruce (Sir Ben Kingsley).
Bruce tells Josh not to move his piece until he sees a path to checkmate.
“Don’t move until you see it” Bruce says.
“I can’t see it” Josh replies quietly.
“Don’t move until you see it” Bruce confidently, calmly repeats himself.
Then Josh asks,
“How long before I become a Grand Master”
Totally circumventing his focus from the objective.
“Is this why you came to Africa, Bobby?
“Why did I come to Africa?”
“Is this why you came to Africa, Bobby?
“Am I really in control of my own path?”
This is a wonderful way of illustrating how my brain works a problem.
By seriously questioning my choice to bypass three African countries, I walked to the embassy of Equatorial Guinea.
Ignoring the easy, boat option.
Bishop takes Rook.
I was prepared to go through Cameroon and Nigeria, by bush taxi.
This was my new directive.
If you wanna go to Equatorial Guinea, you should wear pants to the embassy when you apply for the visa in Gabon.
I wore sexy Jean shorts and because of a heated argument with various embassy personal, I’m deciding to sail around this little asshole, as well as Cameroon and Nigeria.
Queen takes Bishop.
After a long, exhausting reassessment, part of which you can witness for yourself, a final decision was made.
I’m taking a boat to Benin from Gabon.
XOXO, Gossip Girl.