After climbing a steep track on the other side of the river, we appeared in front of a smoldering fire and several apparently deserted camp-beds. After several progressively louder "hello's" an immigration officer clambered up from one of the beds and cradling his M-16 machine gun, came over to meet his new arrivals. The bad news was that he didn't have an entry stamp for our passports, but the good news was that we had crossed at the wrong village and just a couple of kilometer's away, in the village of Wasimi, was the main immigration office and more importantly the Government-approved road that would lead us further into Oyo State and eastern Nigeria. Mohammad was alone but decided that we were sufficiently important to warrant the abandoning of his post, so that he could escort us on his Chinese motorbike through the forest to Wasimi. Thirty minutes later we were presented to the chief immigration officer, a friendly and, judging by the reading material on his desk, also a devout man from Lagos. After greeting us, his opening question was whether we would like beer or water. Three hours later we emerged into the late afternoon after having been cooked a meal of rice and sardines and been given a very favourable exchange rate on the Nigerian Naira to the US dollar. Nigeria wasn't looking so bad. I had read enough about Nigeria to ensure that I approached the prospect of cycling across the country with a rather large degree of caution. Yet, like many places, the reality is that much of the trouble that gets portrayed in the international press is confined to quite specific areas. In Nigeria's case, this means the troubled oil-producing states in the Niger Delta and a number of other places where ethnic and religious conflict occasionally boil over.
Abubakar and the kids of Jima village, Niger State
Trip distance: 13,566 km