My journey to a second Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) coverage started on Thursday, or is it Wednesday now?
While leaving my home in Port Harcourt, Southern Nigeria on Wednesday, one thing was certain for me; my mode of getting into Cameroon was uncertain. I received a number of calls from colleagues trying to go to Cameroon and that was my response.
I landed in Abuja at about 4:43pm on Thursday (after my initial flight for Wednesday was cancelled) and it was then that I decided to proceed to Garoua by road hence booked a flight from Abuja to Yola on Friday morning.
The projection from my research is that Yola to Garoua takes just five hours by road. Is that so? Read along.
The weather was chilly as expected on Friday morning in Abuja and with airport latecomers running in some ways Usain Bolt would be proud of, in a bid to catch up with their final boarding announcements. There, the frenzy for what would be an exhilarating day started for me.
After the usual close to two hours delay, my flight left Abuja to Yola at about 10:07am and we landed at the Yola International Airport at about 11:20am. Then came a huge moment of decision to clear the uncertainty in my second paragraph.
While experiencing delay at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, Victor Modo, a friend and commercial photojournalist told me of his own plan to hit Garoua, Cameroon by sea.
Modo’s plan looked convincing to me based on the intelligence gathering he had acquired for the trip so I was like “let’s see when we get to Yola”.
After alighting in Yola, I was almost swayed by a couple of colleagues to proceed via road but I made a last minute switch to join Modo to the experience transportation by water, only for the second time ever after last year’s cruise to Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
Bonsoir Cameroon!— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) January 7, 2022
End of an interesting journey to Paul Biya's land for #TotalEnergiesAFCON
Started with a flight from Abuja to Yola, then on a speedboat for 3 hours from Yola to Badake and ends with road trip to Garoua.
Be on the look out for my AFCON Diaries via @acl_sports pic.twitter.com/izixYMQzO5
“You get mind oo” “Una strong ooo” such is the compliments from a number of friends and acquaintances after I posted snippets of my boat ride on Friday evening which confirms a lot of people’s phobia for water transportation.
The trip from Yola to Badake (River Benue bank in Cameroon) was exactly 2 hours, 53 minutes on my stopwatch but this included stoppages such as the 25 minutes spent at the Nigerian Immigration Service Office.
How was the trip? Awesome I dare say. There was a scary moment though. When the speedboat driver attempted one of his periodic bending speed, over 30 minutes into the trip and the boat got hooked and ignition switched off.
It felt as though the boat wanted to capsize (maybe I’m exaggerating), I was little scared but nothing out of the ordinary. If the biblical Simon Peter could walk on the sea, then Fisayo Enoch could walk on River Benue, Christ in Me.
Our driver discovered it was plug issues though and we were parked on the water as he fixed it for about 15 minutes (also included in the 2 hours 53 minutes).
While on the sea, I saw a different view about life. How peaceful people could live and how simplistic their lives could be. There is so much simplicity and humility on the sea with other passengers in canoes and boats waving at every sight of others.
I was also fascinated that the boat could move about 35 minutes on the very large River Benue without a “potholes or gallops”. It was interesting also as I saw in real life, fishermen toiling in their bid to catch finishes and to crown it all, I saw a hippopotamus swimming close to me. Beautiful
Let me stop here, the rest of my trip from Badake to Garoua will form part of my Day 2 Diary tomorrow. Do stay tuned.