Day 179: Gabon, A Retrospective.

“Mark it a six dude.”

Six months in Africa.

I can’t say for sure if an event squeezes the mind to function differently or if a mind, independent of all rationality seeks out events to satisfy the urge to function differently?

Like subconsciously self medicating with experiences.

Does ones heart beat because it’s aware of its vital responsibility or is it merely a biological reaction?

No different from your knee joint kicking, if tapped in a specific way.

In order for me to be here on the road to Yaoundé, I stressed the fuck out several times during several key crossroads.

Half the time I stress because i’m not achieving a self imposed expectation.

I.e. Not finding a more immediate solution to the Cocobeach / Cogo border challenge.

The other half is due to my amazing ability to magnify all the inconsequential ramifications resulting from the making of a poor choice.

I.e. Why was I fighting so hard for the very expensive and unnecessary Equatorial Guinea visa, before educating myself on the border situation?

Why wasn’t I looking at bypassing it altogether?

There have been lots of nights I couldn’t sleep, all because my brain, she’s a big asshole.

I’ve screamed at people in mutated English until my hands shook with adrenaline.

I made a fake phone call to the Canadian government, to intimidate a group of underling hicks, Jesus.

I went to jail.

Needless to say I’ve navigated my fair share of challenges, thus far.

The biggest of course being adapting to the new ideology of what a border is.

What is it?

Is it anything?

I’ve always interpreted a border as a division between two countries.

A more basic characterization of what a border is, could be:

It’s a division between two versions of history.

I never imagined it was possible to close a border.

Closing a border conflicts with my interpretation of freedom.

Well Bobby, what is freedom?

Can freedom exist partially? If so, does that not contradict the idea of what freedom is?

Can one be free under certain circumstances?

I think not.

Just as a pet fish encounters glass, I have pressed my body against a invisible partition that, try as I might, would not yield to my rational.

But I’m free.

Right?

Even having a valid visa, passport and money was not enough to get me to, P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.

Despite my total unwavering dedication to that end.

P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.

P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.

P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.

My junior high science teacher said that Issac Newton said, For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

Was my determination to cross a closed border the action or reaction?

If my inability to cross the border with Equatorial Guinea is in fact a reaction, what did I do and when did I do it, that rendered this route unavailable to me?

Of course some of you might be thinking, “There goes Bobby fuckin’ all those hot chicks and overthinking life.”

Be that as it very well may.

I sense there’s a invisible hand at work here never the less.

It’s creepy to suggest, I know.

But it’s what I believe.

It’s my truth.

In a fine OG Nintendo game, Mario Bros 3, there was the Pipe World.

In order to play the level you had to ride an arrow moving in its assigned direction.

There were arrows that would move right, left or up and some that could move in all directions.

Mario just had to jump to rotate through the three possible directions (down not being an option)

Who wants to go back the way they came anyway?

I don’t think I was ever supposed to take a boat to Benin or cross into Equatorial Guinea via Cogo.

The arrow could only move in the direction I rode it.

In order to get to Bitam the last major town before crossing into Equatorial Guinea, I had to show my passport to 17 different Gendarmes.

For those of you who have never been hassled by African Gendarmes before.

Let me paint you a picture.

Your bus stops at a horizontal post, stick or rope, tires, empty steel drums, series of orange traffic cones or, on those special creative occasions, a palm leaf planted upright in the middle of the road.

Once stopped a man or woman, but usually a man, wearing the official, “listen to me, I’m a boss” uniform will saunter toward the vehicle from a nearby shack.

After the Gendarme exchanges words with the driver, one of the following four things is guaranteed to happen.

How To Deal With Corrupt African Police for Dummies.

1) The guard simply walks to the obstruction, moves it and we drive on.

2) The driver gives the guard money, walks to the obstruction, moves it, then we drive on.

3) Several guards open the sliding door where I am revealed. to be the only white face squeezed into a can with 23 black faces.

At this rather unsettling junction, I’m asked for my passport.

I give them a photocopy.

A photo copy is enough to satisfy, fifty precent of the time.

For the other fifty percent I need to unleash the real deal. …

*note

Giving anyone your passport is dangerous, because well, they can keep it until you pay them to return it.

But, cross that bridge when you get there.

If a cop asks for the real deal while you’re in transit, give it to them. A bus full of people generally keeps them accountable.

Now, If a guy on the street claiming to be a cop asks for your passport.

Ask him or her for identification.

Always.

Then give them a copy of your passport.

Never the real deal.

If they protest, which they most certainly will, probably by saying “Not having a passport in your possession is a illegal”.

Claim the passport is in your hotel because there are thieves everywhere.

Then look into their eyes and say “thieeeves” with a hint of bene gesserit accusation.

That if they want your passport, they have to accompany you back to your hotel to retrieve it.

Together.

Let’s go!

Never has anyone accompanied me to my hotel to get my passport.

Even in Congo, the high ranking police and military that jailed me, would not go to my hotel to get my passport.

A hotels reception for shifty police is like garlic for vampires.

back to 3)

If they want you to give them money, which is most of the time, they do it by asking for the yellow fever card.

When I show mine, those around me acknowledge my efficiency and confidence with a curt but unanimous “Humph“.

Then we go.

4). The door is opened, you are instructed to exit the vehicle and walk to the shack where the information in your passport is copied into a large rectangular book with graph paper.

If this happens at night it can be especially unsettling.

But fun.

So relax.

Once they have you in their little room, you’ll likely be told that you have to pay some number, usually small, to go.

“It’s a road tax”, They’ll assure you. If you refuse, get ready for a brief insistance.

Refuse.

The sound of insolent disobedience to brainwashed authortians is like Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum for carolers.

It is sure to invite more, senior members of the shack to intervene with the same justification but with new, spicy stern instance.

At this point you can’t be a bitch.

Stand up for yourself motherfucker.

Refuse.

Explain how a Visa and entry stamp work.

Not in a dick way, rather, in a way that illustrates your position, confidently.

As well as your desire to educate.

“If you want me to pay a tax, you have to give me an official receipt”.

Or in my specific case, “Monsieur, moi payée tax, moi official billet du tax, s’il vous plaît”

Now that you know the process(es), let me reiterate.

In order to get to Bitam the last major town before crossing into Equatorial Guinea, I had to show my passport to 17 different gendarmes.

590 kilometers.

More check stops and control patrol than I have ever seen.

An unfortunate fact that would soon be challenged, as I proceeded through Cameroon.

This kind of policing represents the human aspect of Gabon.

An Incredible astonishing ignorance bolstered by an economy capable of fortifying its relativity small borders.

From what?

Foreigners.

What are foreigners?

I don’t know, other Africans?

Nigerians probably.

Gabon has been, hands down, the most difficult country to pass through.

The most expensive and the most frustrating.

So far.

However.

There’s an environmental component here I have never seen or experienced anywhere else.

I know that sounds dramatic.

But it’s true.

On the partially paved road travelling to Bitam from Libreville, I saw things.

These things moved me.

Forced me to twist my head out a bus window being driving in a pattern so asymmetrical, people were throwing up.

Forced me to button mash my phone like a cave man desperate to find the camera, inside the computer.

There are of course, enormous trees here.

Colossal wooden pillars that seem to grow down from heaven.

Some trees are shaped as if jagged bolts of lightning were petrified into a living thing.

There is nothing bigger on this land than the tree.

Perhaps these very trees acted as inspiration for vexed pioneering linguist botanists.

Perhaps because no word up to that point could capture the magnitude, magnificence or majesty of these trees, a guy, probably named Louis determined these giants are nothing if not, mighty.

New word.

Mighty.

Some one call Bananagrams.

Driving down from the tops of green mountains into deep humid valleys as an array of textured clouds transition from what looks like below the horizon.

Sculpting an illusion that the distant plains of mist woven rainforest and vast fields of glowing green, are in fact expanding up up up and out, into a new horizon. Beyond the clouds, to space, to the stars.

Erasing the natural horizon and not replacing it.

Call Christopher Nolan.

He just gave me an idea

He just …incepted. Me.

I feel small here.

I am barely more than an illusion here.

I am barely here, here.

Staring out my window during the twelve hour bus ride, the suns light struck me just so, the sweet air stirring me to remember old thoughts.

Ancient thinkings.

Memories covered in dust.

Space and death for dummies.

What if what we believe happens to us when we die, is what happens?

A particular outcome based on the projection of said individual.

It’s unnecessary to note, but I feel obligated to.

That, in order to die and advance into a projection, you must first live.

Therefore I believe that all living things have the capacity to determine their own future cycles of life.

A tree, for example, might only know what a tree knows, it might be that when that specific tree falls it’s destined to become another tree.

Due to its experiential inabilities

Perhaps if enough birds land on this tree it may consider flight or nesting or movement.

Causing the future iteration of this creature to break from a protocol.

Perhaps?

The limits to ignorance may be boundless, ironically.

It’s in this way you must ask, what do you WANT to believe?

If you have chosen Buddhism:

If you have chosen Hinduism

If you have chosen Christianity

If you have chosen Islam

If you have chosen atheism

Than you have chosen your path.

It doesn’t have to be from the small list of accepted world religions either.

(for the sake of semantics, I don’t count Buddhism as a religion, in the classic sense. It, however, belongs on the list, never the less.)

The only scenario more mysterious than death, is space, according to Bobby.

In this way their connected, for me.

Perhaps they have much more in common than we know.

Or don’t know.

Cue the Unsolved Mysteries music.

The expectation that all life’s mysteries can be solved using scientific formulas or establishing laws of physics, thermodynamics or any flashlight principal, isn’t true of space.

Before we can solve a problem, we must understand the problem.

To understand a problem, you must be aware of the problem.

Not knowing what lies beyond our own horizon, concerning both the universe as a multi dimensional diorama and ones own existence, results in the ultimate frontier.

I find it far too calibrated that both unknown landscapes exist in such close proximity to one another.

One frontier is all around us.

The other within.

If I can make it through Gabon, death and space is going to be like ordering Starbucks stoned.

The power of ones imagination may be at play during our transition from life to death, what we, the individual perceives space to be, could be a truth.

Truth imagined as an environment.

Not a concept.

A mirror within a mirror, sort of thing.

Perhaps death is a catalyst to accessing the portal apropos to your true desire.

Infinite dimensional realities being the canvas for every single, possible belief to manifest.

It could be that’s why Google, Huawei and other Tech conglomerates are so ruthless in their pursuit to shape the way we think.

Because what we think is the only key we have to unlock our future path.

Shit.

I just scared myself.

The stakes are high, I guess.

I’ve digressed hard, like a Grandpa roll’n on M.

Gabon tested me.

I’ll leave it there.

Gabon’s a dictatorship.

And I’m a very liberal homie.

The math is simple.

I was happy to leave.

If you’ll allow me to give you advice for visiting Gabon, it’s this;

Don’t spend more days than necessary in Libreville.

Apply for the visas to neighboring countries, via their embassies, i.e. Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon or Congo, then GTFO of Libreville.

Don’t rely on a boat to take you anywhere, except Port Dennis.

Walk around the Petit Paris market and buy ridicules Gucci knock off shit for a dollar.

Take a bus to Bitam from Libreville for 14,500 francs.

Spend some time exploring Bitam.

Know that Bitam is 60% cheaper than Libreville.

And!

It’s only thirty kilometers from the borders of both Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.

And I’m Ron Burgundy. Go fuck yourself Gabon.