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    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Bye Bye Togo, Hello Benin

    Benin is where I started my 6 country Central West African loop and I'm finally back where I started, about 7 months later. I spent about about a month here learning a bit of French and gearing up with new equipment after my East African adventures and I'm back in with my bros Hugo and Stephane. I arrived yesterday and eating, surfing and relaxing before off n pedaling in Benin. Here's a quick tour of Togo...Enjoy!

    Bridget at 10KM of a planned 65KM ride and Me dead in bed for 56 hours

    So you heard about my sickness...super nasty. Cipro took her down and I was soon on the road again w/ my Togolese friends who came all the way from Accra to chill with me.

    My relief crew in from Ghana to tend to binks
    Some funky dancing at a voodoo ceremony

    Meet Isaac--we found each other on Facebook!
    And I knocked him out on his first day ;)

    Debora getting a healing lift for her bum foot
    Out on day two pedaing the backroads with Isaac

    Gina's mom Akouvi's neighbor is amazing
    Enjoying one of Akouvi's awesome meals in Vogan with Gina's brother Felix

    As you can see from the pics, it went from good, to bad, to amazing. Isaac and I spent 3 nights and 4 days riding together and I now have a brother in Togo. Amazing... And such great hospitality, willingness to help and welcome...beyond words.

    Many folks give Togo a quick pass through as it's not the most welcoming country, no way. But the coldness on the outside warms up once the Togolese folks know you. In fact, once you are "in", then you are like family and there is no warmer place on earth.

    The religion is very interesting, with traditional beliefs still dominant--namely, Voodoo. Very cool, non threatening, and pretty much the same as many religions with a focus on sacrifice and a belief in a higher power; but it's very colorful and unique, a must see!

    The filming is only getting better with a focus on letting the people become the hosts--I'm just along for the ride :) they love it! I love it!

    Blogs don't have to really make sense, so I'll just leave it at that. I'm chillin hard in Benin now--eating rich food, surfing all day tomorrow and Sunday, and livin Big after the recent adventures.

    Over n out from Cotonou!


    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    From Heaven to Hell and Back in Togo...

    Quick update from Togo while internet is up since it's been down all over for days.

    I crossed the border and all was just dandy...palm trees, smiling faces, less traffic, the ocean on my right...all good. caught some amazing live music and met a lovely new Togolese friend Bridget who wanted to prove she could handle a 65km ride on the tandem. We hit the road the next day and all was peachy until about the 30km mark when I totally ran out of steam. We cut it early in Aneho where I grew totally ill with a 105 fever, chills, aches and zero energy.

    I had to drop Bridget off at her village the next day and seek refuge of a cheap guesthouse in Lome to get better...but I only got worse. To make a long nighmare short, I was dead in bed from Friday to Sunday sicker than i have been in years and missed the whole weekend in Lome. But thanks to the wonderful drug Cipro I finally took Saturday I was good to go Sunday and met my Togolese crew who came to greet me from Accra.

    So back to Heavenly good times...stayed in a cool village outside Lome with Kwame's dad, a new friend Isaac, and the whole family. caught some great vooodoo ceremony, and for last few days have been bonding with a cool new friend Issaac who found me on facebook and now we're good mates pedaling around cool country roads here in Togo lovin life!

    that's the latest....few more days here then on my way to Benin for some more adventures, surf, and good times!



    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    After an emotional roller coaster re-entry I'm settled into my life back on the road here in Africa! I have to say that I got quite spoiled and way too comfortable on my last trip to the USA and when I returned to the heat, pollution, physical and mental challenges, and long distance from those I love I struggled for several days. But I'm happy to say I'm rolling on happily after an amazing 5 day expedition from Busua Beach to Accra.

    Ghana was actually the best re-entry country as it is mostly English speaking and pretty civilized. But with the "prosperity" of West Africa's leading industrial nation comes way too many cars! The road along the coast was one of the most challenging I've experienced with all the traffic and little or no shoulder, but I made it alive and well! Add to that that Harmatan headwind winds bringing in dust from the Sahara desert into my lungs with all the pollution and heat and you get my drift...

    But wow, the Ghanaian people are beyond amazing. My hosts Kwame and Gina were so gracious and supported me all the way with daily calls and we could not wait to see each other again! The hospitality of the locals here is truly amazing, and you feel embraced and celebrated every day.

    After a few tough days emotionally I eventually grew stronger, more open, more tolerant and ready to rock the country. I rode with about 12 people along my route, and made some friendships that will last a lifetime no doubt! I was also able to watch Ghana go all the way to the Semi finals of the Africa Cup and root the team on to a 3rd place finish. I was a bit rusty on my filming and hosting skills, but it all came together in the end and we captured some truly awesome moments and great interviews from some truly wise and conscious Ghanaian folks.

    So after celebrating my 36th birthday with Kwame, Gina and dozens of new friends here in Ghana I'm finally off tomorrow to Togo where I'm blessed to have more people waiting for me there to show me the unique and exciting culture barely touched by the western world. And then it's back to Benin to finally do some riding there and, of course, meet up with my bros Hugo and crew for some more surfing!

    I feel blessed to have this opportunity to be here and share all this with you guys. I know it sounds scary to head into Africa, but if you can face the fears, Ghana is a great "Ghana for Beginners" you will love it! North American Air has direct flights from JFK so it's pretty darn painless :)

    Over and out for now!

    Live Big. Give Big :)


    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    Blog 2-3-08

    Greetings form Busua Beach, Ghana! I’ve been in Ghana for about a week now getting geared up for a huge 10 month expedition of West Africa and Europe and the butterflies are flying fast and furious in my stomach. It’s all about taking the first step, but I have to admit it’s pretty scary right now. But tomorrow I set off and will make the first pedal strokes of the final leg of the 2nd stage of this expedition.

    I was greeted at the airport by my good friends Kwame and his wife Gina and they managed to find me a cheap hotel in the middle of the huge Africa Cup soccer tournament, which was a rare find indeed. We watched Ghana upset Morocco and go to the quarter finals and it was a good welcome into Ghana indeed. We lined up an interview the papers, got my visa to Togo and Benin (an all day affair!), and got the bike and gear all organized for the trip!

    Now I’m at the beach doing some surfing at a friend Peter’s surf camp here where I was blessed with a new swell, offshore winds, no crowds and warm water. Today is my last day of surfing 4 hour sessions and it’s back on the road to discovery the real, modern day culture of Ghana on the historic Cape Coast to Accra.

    I have a great Mali newsletter coming soon! Stay tuned!

    Jamie ;)