Thursday, 6 December 2012

Driving through Zinder and arrival at Kano

February 13 1953 (Friday) Land Mileage 2675
We attempted to make a start at our usual time, only to find we had a deputation outside!   The locals had brought us some onions and  were delighted when we gave them some cigarettes and matches in exchange.  We had been told that the latter two items were good bargaining products, which is why they were aboard the vehicle!   They moved off happily, with their faces wreathed in smiles.    The roads continued to be very bad and dusty, as we set off on yet another day of our expedition.
At 11h30, we pulled up for a wash and general clean up, plus a much needed drink.   David took a few photographs of the villages and the camels. On roads which were not improving, we arrived at Zinder at 13h00, to hear the usual story; everything was closed until 14h30.   The advantage of this bad timing was however, that we were at least not driving in the full heat of the day and we had an enforced rest.
Arrival in Zinder. That looks like a Citroen sign, on what must be the front wall of the garage.
Zinder in those days was quite a large village, with a hotel, petrol station, stores, garage and even a bank!   Here we had to report to the Police, Chef du Cercle and also the French customs.   The contract that had been signed in Algiers, for us to cross the Sahara was now at an end and we had to have it cleared before moving on.   As everything was closed, we made our way to the hotel for the magical cold drink we hoped we would find there!   
Zinder Hotel
It seemed that in Zinder, everyone, including the Police, worked the hours that suited them and it was most annoying to find we were hanging around after two thirty, waiting for everyone to return to their offices.   We finally got our passports stamped at 16h15 and pretty fed up with the situation, we finally got moving again, only to decide after one hour on the road, that we really should pull off and set up camp for the night.
We had very little sleep that night, as we were in territory where drumming was on the 'top of the pops' list.   It was a very noisy night, with lots of shouting, all keeping up with the throb of the drums.    We could see fires in the distance, but the sound obviously carried and it seemed as if it was right outside the vehicle! Perhaps there had been a wedding, or similar event, as it really sounded like a full scale celebration.   When the partying finally came to an end in the early hours of the morning, the family dogs took over and barked their way through the remainder of the night.   We were really very grateful when dawn came and we could pack up and move on our way again!
February 14 1953 (Saturday) Land Mileage 2855
We had yet another early start to the day and we were on the road by 07h00.    The road here, although dirt, was really quite good by comparison with some we had travelled on.  We passed through the small village of Takieta and 42 miles further on we came to the British Nigeria / French Niger border.   Passports were brought to the fore yet again and then we were through the border into British territory.   Here we almost had our first accident of the trip; exciting stuff- Dad had forgotten that we had changed from driving on the right side of the road (European rule) to the left (UK rule) upon crossing the border, and we suddenly found a large truck bearing down on us on the same side of the road that we were.  It was a close encounter and a near miss, but miss we did.    The road gradually improved and 50 miles before reaching Kano, we found ourselves driving on tarmac.  This was the first real piece of tarred road we had been on since leaving Ghardia and definitely cause for celebration.
We stopped the Land Rover and found some warm orange juice to celebrate our arrival in a new country.  We dusted off the Land Rover as well as possible and then had a wash ourselves.   We continued along on a very flat stretch of road and eventually arrived in Kano.  Having decided that we deserved a break from travelling, we thought we should book into a hotel for a couple of days.    This meant leaving the guns somewhere, so we decided to report to the Police first, and then ask them if they could keep the guns under lock and key for a time.   This did not prove to be a problem and we then went in search of a hotel.    On arrival at the hotel we managed to get two rooms, but in different buildings.   As the buildings were next to each other, it proved not to be a problem and my folks knew that I would be safe with David there to look after me.
First on the list was to have a really good bath and wash our hair in plenty of hot water. Bliss, has water ever felt this good before?    Finally clean, shiny and dressed, we all met up on the verandah for tea and sandwiches.   This was a real treat as we had not seen fresh bread since Algiers.   We all decided that we would enjoy a rest and we would meet up later in the main building of the hotel. 
Catching up with some news in Kano
We were fascinated by the lizards, which were everywhere; they were all over the walls of the hotel, as well as the trees outside.  They were amazing colours with green, blues and browns, dotted and diamond patterns over their bodies, all very new to a family from England!   We went for a short stroll around the gardens after a delicious dinner, before yawning our way to real beds for the night.   We had mosquito nets in the rooms, which were a necessary part of the good night's sleep and large fans turning constantly overhead to keep us cool; it was very hot there, even at night so we discovered.
My Mum experimenting with the timer on the camera while waiting for Dad. My face looks a bit in awe at what is going on, but it obviously worked!

To be continued :-) 

I have put this section of my life story on Kindle if you should be interested:-


  1. From Niger to Nigeria...
    It is funny that both of these countries have the name deriving from the river Niger. The Latin word "Niger" just means "Black".
    Also the word "Nigger" derives from that. But, if "Nigger" had been used in 1885 by Mark Twain in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (look at here) , in ordinary way, in the last decades became offensive and nowadays has been banned in polite conversations.
    However, black-people are brown and not black. In the same time, white-people are pink and not white :-)

    1. Gio Ve many thanks for your comment, you always come up with something interesting. Hope that all is well with you both. Have a good weekend Diane

  2. I would have also loved watching all the lizards, which I presume were new to all of you. How exciting!

    1. JM it was the first time I had seen lizards in the wild, but we were very friendly with the keeper at Bristol zoo who looked after the reptiles so I was used to seeing them in captivity. Diane

  3. I was in a very busy period and I never found the time to come to read again this beautiful story.
    I am happy I found it. Always interesting. And a good way to make my english better:your style is very clear and easy to be red.

    1. Andrea thanks for commenting when you can. It is always a pleasure to hear from you. I am glad that you think my writing is helping you with your English. Good to know I am doing some good :-) Take care Diane

  4. It must have been heaven to have a real wash and bed for a few days. You all did so well to get so far without too many mishaps. What an adventure for a little girl.


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