Tuesday 11 March 2014


Yesterday marked the six month anniversary since I left England on that grey, cold morning. A lot has happened in this last six months. I feel that I've aged more in this time than any other period of my life and I feel I have experiences which you would normally gather in years. I think I've changed quite a lot since I left home too. Most notably in the case that I don't shy away from speaking my mind anymore. Africa has forced that out of me. Its unfortunate though, that recently my thoughts and words have been directed out of anger. All that shit with my engine generally turned me into an angry man with a lasting legacy of frustration which derived from constantly dealing with inept people with faces of unquenchable optimism. I had a word with myself yesterday to take it more easy with people and realize that things work differently out here and I should approach things with an open mind. Later that day the Benin embassy lost my passport... which has all my hard won and expensive visas for the following countries in. The message I tried to give myself that day didn't quite sink in. I have no idea how, in the space of two hours that it was in their possession that they managed to lose it, but it look like its gone.
 On the ride home from the embassy the two screws on my front sprocket came lose and the bracket fell off. This caused the chain to fly around which smashed into the top part of my mud guard which was also loose, ripping it to pieces and sending it flying into my spokes. This happened on the only motorway that I've ridden on since Europe... at rush hour too, which was fun. I have no idea how none of my spokes broke. The last thing that a mechanic
in Africa touched was my front sprocket and chain. The legacy of them doing more damage than good is still at 100%. I did say I would never take my bike to a mechanic in Africa again but most of my tools went missing in Ouagadougou, and I thought 'how wrong can you go with a chain and sprocket?' Fuck me.

 They do say it comes in three's, so without disappointment, later that night whilst on the way home I was trying to traverse a dirt track back to the village when the biggest rain storm I have ever witnessed descended, turning the dirt track into a river. This broke my phone which was in my soaking pocket.

I'm glad the word 'bastard' exists as it makes me feel better when I identify things as such.

You Bastard. You bastard. You bastard.

I'm technically going back onto British soil tomorrow in the form of the embassy in Accra, where I can explain what the Benin embassy clowns have done and try to sort out whatever we can do about this.

I was meant to go to Togo today but looks like I'm going to be in Ghana for a long time yet.

You bastard.   


  1. Hi liam,
    I read your blog and some times I want to share a beer or three with you, and other times I want to give a bloody good slap.

    I like many others who are following you have been been there done that, for my self I worked in the oilfield on land and offshore in part of the western World that could be best described as 'if the World had hemorrhoids that were I have worked'!!
    So on the slap side, when was the last time you checked your bike over for loose nuts and bolts, how must more do you know about your bike? Than some one who actually has to really on one? Your out in the big wide World now my son and you better lighten up and watch how the locals fix things.
    I did say some time ago to look after the wee Honda as small horse, that wean to treat it with care and attention, looks like your going to learn the hard way.

    What really concerns me is that while your all pissed off with the World, the bike, the Embassy, and not with a spot of rain. The wee Honda will suffer, lets please take bloody good deep breath have a beer and regroup.

    This could be the start of the best think that ever happened to you, or it could be the end, and for ever more until you take your last breath you will regret not full filling your dream for going around the World on a step through Honda!!

    1. Mr John...

      I must admit that the advice you are giving me now about the attention I give my bike would have been relevant a few months ago. On regards to your question 'when did I last check my bike for loose nuts and bolts?' The answer was this morning. Before that its was actually yesterday. Before that a few days before...

      After I found out just how much an engine could royally fuck up I am now treating my bike as if it was my child. Granted when I left England I new next to nothing about engines. But as I posted in an update before I stripped my old engine from learning diagrams, saw that the crankshaft baring was fucked, as were the valves, the cylinder barrel, which would also need a new piston... from all this I made the (and I feel confident in saying a wise) decision to start fresh and and blot on a new engine. If I would have replaced all those parts my old Honda would have been more Chinese anyway.

      I have learned a lot about my bike since I left home, and I agree with what you said, it has been the hard way.

      However, considering this new problem with an embassy losing my passport and I'm faced with the dilemma of having to fly back to England to resolve this I fail to see where the point lies in trying to give me a lecture about motorcycle maintenance is spite of all this?

      Also, the mechanics here work like animals. What you learn from them is the lesson that you should never take your bike to a mechanic in Africa. You should learn how to do it yourself.

      Feel free to slap me if ever we should meet but don't be surprised if you get a clout back.

      I'm always up for a beer though.


  2. :-) That's the spirit, now dig in and sort this small problem out, I can hear you say "F*****G SMALL"? Well your not in a local prison, (not yet any way :-)) or in hospital with cancer are you!
    The sun is shining your a British citizen on a bloody World tour, it does not get much better than this! O.k the engine could have been more reliable, and maybe loosing a passport in the Embassy, along with the ants, a slash of rain, getting your phone wet was a trifle annoying, I mean that can happen here in the U.k never mind out in Africa.

    I may sound a bit paranoid regarding motorcycle maintenance, but once you get in the habit of looking for thing that can go wrong before they do, your trip will be a real breeze. Not sure about your attitude to local mechanics? Again we have some real duffers here in the U.K, locals can be very resourceful, so watch and learn, be polite and help with a smile will work wonders, it will I'm sure come in very handy at a later date.

    Just to end, please please remember that the bike will dictate how fast you can go, push on at your peril, she will teach you to enjoy the sights and smells at a pace that will fill you with wonder.

    1. Oh no, the ants and the rain, I like those sorts of things. I the big long update of those disasters I added things for comedy effect. My passport is far from funny, but trust me, I had a smile on my face as I was duct taping up the holes in my groundsheet during the storm. I do like those sort of things... that's why I came. I did not however expect to go through 3 engines, 2 pistons and cylinder rebores and have a passport stolen in the first 6 months. There's no denying, I have been very unlucky. I wholly admit that the first problem with my engine was totally my fault. The rest though WAS the work of the mechanics out here. I'm sure there are some in Africa who know how to work properly, but the ones I've met... Well, it has to be seen to be believed. I watched, opened my mouth, shook my head and in some cases snapped at them. They have a very shocking attitude towards quality. I've had lengthy discussions with people who have lived here a long time about it and they've told me that in some local dialects there are no words for future tense. Everything is in the now. If you go to a mechanic here and they get your bike going then they have done there job. If it breaks 500 miles down the road then it is not there problem. There are very different mentalities out here and it is very frustrating to deal with when there approach to things ruin your plans, again and again and again. I do not hold them in hight regard. I am open to be proved wrong! That would be very nice.

  3. :-) .. So it looks like your going to have to buy some more tools, break out the Haynes manual and as you say do it your self, to be honest a C90 is only like a bicycle with an engine, how hard can that be to fix :-) And no I'm not being sarcastic.
    Just chill, because this is what will make you a real man, being able to face the downs, not as a downs but an opportunity to prove to your self, not us the great unwashed, that this is a real adventure and you learned many good things, the best being that when the chips were down You sorted it in a dignified manor and thus lived to tell the tall..

    Take care ride slow and stay safe.

    John S.

  4. hay i admire you Liam , i am on the way back up from gambia(suzuki dr350 with a chinese engine after mine exploded!! ,Wife on drz400) after two years and feel your pain about mechanics and the here and now .............its does piss you off easily though and its hard for people on the outside to understand how africa works. Someone described it to me as a "death of a thousand cuts", its all the little bits of shit that build up to you wanna scream sometimes , i have been working amongst africans fow almost two years and is very frustrating .i have the bonus of having my wife with me and we have a rant and rave then remember where we are .You do feel you "grow" certainly and despite all the shit stuff we wouldt have done anything different (well maaybe not lete a wanky mechanic "repaire" my engine. Hope you figure out what you want to do and theres always time for beer , good luck mate you are living the dream....nightmare!!
    Sean Logan