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Extreme heat

3 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Sunday, June 08, 2008

Extreme heat

Gambia is the smallest African country with 1.6 million people. 90% are Muslims and the rest are Christians. I think the youngsters are very liberal who call themselves hippie-Muslims. The people are very friendly and they welcome everyone. The majority speak English in addition to the local languages.
There is so much poverty here and where 45% of the population are under 14 years. This is quite unlike anything I have experienced on my trip so far
Six days ago I started biking in the direction of Mali. I chose this direction because I wanted to escape the rain on the coast. I had the choice of two evils, heat or rain and decided that it would be better to go with the heat.

In Banjul I met Omar. He lived in Norway for three years. He stayed with me for a few days. He was so helpful showing me where I could spend the night, find water, etc. I was pleased that he wanted to escort me on my tour.
But how mistaken can one be as two days in to the ride, did we ever have problems with the heat.
At 11 am, it was already more than 40 degrees Celsius, and two hours later it was over 45 degrees. I felt as if I was running in a sauna without a door. From time to time the hot wind blew from the Sahara. One might have thought that it came directly from an oven . This was too much for Omar and he went back home. I didn't want to give up so I continued.
The third day, I think my body was overheated. My lips were cracked and sheer desperation made me drink 20 liters of cold water. I spat it out again to drink more cold water . I also got diarrhea. Even at night I had trouble sleeping because of the heat and I would have paid one million crowns for a bath full of ice cubes.

I was invited by a Gambian for 2 days to regain my forces. Outside the cities, there is no electricity and I never found anything chilled enough to refresh me.
After two days I started off at 5am and continued on until11am. But by then it was just too hot, and I was told that further into the country it would be even hotter. More than 55 degrees!
Now I have decided to drive alongside the coast. Frankly the rains must be better than this heat. This has to be the worst cycling experience that I've ever had. Canada during the winter was a lightness in contrast to this heat. I actually miss Canada at this moment.
The last city that I was at was Georgetown which is where slaves were kept on an island until being taken to America by ship. In fact it was from here that the majority of slaves were shipped to America. I saw some old ruins, and also the prison where there is a slave festival and where many black Americans come to express there feeling of togetherness.

Nature here is very beautiful, typical African bush country. I saw many animals, monkeys, wild boars and a variety of birds.
The people are so nice and I was invited to stay with them almost every day. Life here is very simple with everyone always smiling. I met somebody who said that a man could feed 50 women with his salary here.
This extremely simple standard also has it's advantages and disadvantages. They have something we have lost in Europe. Family and friends hold very strongly together, even if they don't have much they still share whatever it is that they do have. It's a fact that they spend the day with the family instead of spending money and rushing off to find wealth.
I now have applied for visas for Guinea and Guinea-Bissau and as soon as they arrive it's off to Sierra Leone and to Liberia. Let's see how it works out?
I have just got a tray and a cooler in front of me. The water is extremely hot here almost to the point of boiling. Tomorrow I shall be moving on.

Update from Gambia

1 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Monday, May 26, 2008


First i want to tell you a little bit about my bike. I got it from Foss Sykkel/Trek Norway who made it to my specifications. I didn't want any damping-fork because it might be hard to repair here in Africa. I have lots of different handle-bars so that I can change cycling-positions whenever I want. Spinn(cycling-shop in Norway) gave very nice lights to use on my bike. They have no batteries and are flashing every time when the wheels rotates because of the magnet. I was VERY impressed as they work so well. This is real high-tech stuff. I also have extra chains, cycling clothes, tyres and pumps. Spinn Cycle shop in Norway gave me the equipment and Trek Norway gave the bike. Petter Guttormsen who is my agent fixed this deal for me.

I made four real homemade water-bottles here in Gambia. My brother gave me a horn and some distress flares so that I can use if animals are getting to close to me.
Here you see a picture of the horn on my bike:

When my bike is fully laden with all of my equipment, it get to-o-o-oo heavy. So very often I have to clean it up. And having an old heavy laptop doesn't help either. Feels like I'm carrying a washing-machine. hehe. Also I have a big tent enough for three persons, because when I stop I have my bike inside the tent. Remember, my bike is my wife now. :) Madrass, food, clothes, camera, videocamera and lots of medicines.

Many locals ask me to help them with different medical problems and they are also asking me for medicines. I really do wish that I could help them, but I am not a doctor. I recommend them to visit a doctor or buy medicines, but they don't have money for medication which is bad. I really feel sorry for them.

I have visited a school in Banjul in Gambia which has links with Norway, here is a picture:

The bike is working very well so far and I am looking forward to using it more. My brother has helped me with some money which is a great help. It's now much easier to obtain money from the cash dispensers because the machines aren't so far apart as they have been.
Next step is to get to Mali, east of Gambia.

Updates and many pictures will follow soooooon.......

Africa - Here i come!

2 people commented Published by Rune Monstad on Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I have been in Banjul for a couple of days now and have been working with my new bike and putting it together and now the bike seems to be working well.
I am not sure how long I shall be staying in Gambia but at least until I get my visa for Senegal.

With some new friends that I made here with my fully loaded bike.

A couple of monkies admiring my new TREK bike.
Last Updated ( Monday, 06 April 2009 15:35 )