Well, again it's been a whike and the search for an internet cafe that allows the uploading of anything for the blog is proving to be a task and a half. Pobably too many people trying to upload virus's etc and probably dodgy pictures too...! So at the 'mo, Peter has generously allowed me the use of his laptop,which I think I'll name the 'Battletank' as it's the 'take anywhere type and has a certain solid construction necessary for the rigours of motorbike travelling in Africa.
So I'm sat here in a hotel resteraunt by the river feeling the cooling breeze, watching the boats from the locals do their business and Ian Brown has just kicked in on the MP3 player, Bliss, but trying to recollect the last week or so's events is a bit harder as it's been a bit mental as I'm now well and truly in Africa!
I'm now in Southern Senegal and just crossed the border from The Gambia yesterday with Peter, Mark and myself. Leaving Morocco, I decided to go alone for a day or so and attempt to find the root cause in my head as to why I'm doing this and explore the ideas and strange things that's happened to me over the last few years in a completely different enviroment, thinking, in vain, I may come to some peace and allow myself to enjoy the trip a bit more relaxed and not think about what I would be doing otherwise. Would I have been back in Iraq? Sat in the UK doing some job that would be driving me nuts? Or have I made the right decision to do this trip? It's not suprising that I was thinking like this as I was well and truly 'Not in Kansas' anymore and considering the options of pulling the plug as the honeymoon period was over. But NO! Bugger it, I'm here and gonna damn well ensure I do the best I can, accept the challenge and try to enjoy the hassles without wringing some buggers neck thinking I'm a walking cash machine for being white and travelling on a bike. Chill Geoff, Chill....... The next border is soon to come and that will be a bloody big suprise for sure.... AND IT WAS!
After taking advice from Mark about the Mauritanian border about avoiding the Rosso border post and it's hassles I Headed for the Djemma crossing. The problem is trying to find the Djemma track and the 90kms of pite that required to get to it and the track is very close to the border town of Rosso it's difficult to find. I asked the locals but after soo many wrong answers, quizzed looks and some obviously down right misleading directions I decided to take the hit and hit Rosso thinking it can't be that bad, Surely?
Coming into Rosso I was stopped by some 'orrible little git in uniform, so as usual it's all smiles and 'Bonjours!' and hopefully he'll let me continue. After the initial request to show my papers he insisted I gave him the Carnet de Passage and said 'we go to Rosso'. Oh no! This doesn't look too good from the outset and he jumps into a locals car and heads off into the distance for Rosso at breakneck speed with me in pursuit desperatly trying to avoid the hagglers and touts jumping in front of me to stop or slow me down and ply their trade of conning the ignorant tourists of their cash in various deceptive and outright criminal ways. Pessimistic? Damn right! I'd not heard a good story about this place yet and I can already see my world going tits up and I'm not even there yet!
The guy eventually stops at the Port gate and dives inside, so I have to demand to be let in with the bike and as soon as I'm in he's got me! I know I'm gonna have to pay this guy to 'do the paperwork' after refusing to give me the paperwork back and me wanting to do it myself. So I was ordered to park the bike and wait. Soon as the bike was parked up I was surrounded by cops and hagglers enquiring about the bike, not giving any space and a barrage of questions, whereas I pride myself on being a confident guy but this was unnerving from the start. Once the cops had pushed off the hagglers and kids it was time to get down to business and hit me for money, pens, cadeaux, even the bloody spare tyres from the bike! I eventually gave in a gave them their cadeaux's just to get rid of the gits and all the time thinking Peter was perfectly right, this place is a nightmare!
I then decided enough was enough and the next guy or cop asking for a cadeaux would be told to piss off and in due time one did arrive wanting his piece after hearing his buddies had theirs. True to form I told him to piss off and he was REALLY pissed off! So then he insisted on his cadeaux, again, Piss off! I repeated to ensure he had the right answer. Looking at me angrily he looked around checking for anyone watching and pulled out his pistol pointing it at the floor, giving a brief pause he then asked, well told me he wanted not only his cadeaux but the bike aswell! Jesus Christ! Well I am in the shit now, c'mon Geoff, you tit! Sort this one out and be bloody quick about it. You started this and now bloody finish it before it gets really serious! So with a deeply apologetic look on my face, hand clasped together I then pointed to my pocket and slowly 'Magicked' my wallet out. Not having much bargaining power at this point against a guy with a sodding gun I opened the wallet and allowed him to take what the f**k he wanted, to the tune of 140 euros.
The killer thing about it was and some of you may think this is dumb. I would have been able to take the pistol from him without much bother. My work experience and training has taught me enough that the pistol wasn't cocked, probably not even loaded with ammunition and the guy was close enough to have the pistol in a couple of seconds, if that! But then looking daft as I'm in an enclosed compound, full of cops, with a stolen pistol and probably looking at getting shot by his mates or locked up in a Mauritanian jail getting bummed for the rest of my life! Nah, better to pay the little s**t and live another day!
After that episode I just wanted to get the hell out of there and get into Senegal soonest. So after a couple of hours hanging around feelish foolish, I was able to get the bpaperwork back, paying well over the odds with whatever cash I had left and embarked on the ferry to the Senegalese side.
Terrible day! But the adventure continues but I quietly said to myself, not on my own it's not! You Arse!
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