Our entry to Southern Senegal went without a hitch and the three of us (Peter, Mark and I) headed down for a couple of relaxing days by the river in Ziguinchor. A relaxed little town where Peter and I did some bike maintenance after the rattling we took crossing from the north. The bike got a good clean in the towns main petrol station, even though we did the washing we still got stung for 2,000CFA. I explained to the attendant that it was important for us to wash our own individual bikes as it was the best way to inspect for damage but as usual he just looked at me like a berk! Meaning, I was the berk as such a rich westerner washing his own bike, Jeez, this guy must be tight!! Ha Ha Ha.
Peter and I decided to set off and go for Mali border, leaving Mark in the hotel to do some work. Plus we thought we might meet up with Migo en route after his little charity visit.
Upon setting off, we did the usual of fuelling up were upon I decided to let the attendant put in the fuel, silly mistake as per normal they try to get 24 litres into a 23 litre tank and end up with fuel everywhere! I asked him to stop at an appropriate level but he ignored me, I repeated for him to stop and again he ignored me insisting he can get more fuel in the bloody thing! I resorted to shouting, well, screaming at him to stop but the result was the same. Fuel evrywhere and my MP3 nearly took a bath in 'Leaded Super'. He understanably got the hump for shouting as I hurt his feelings. I'd really hurt his feelings if the spilt fuel ignited on the hot exhaust. My protective clothing would help for a minute but he'd torch quite nicely.
Thinking that would be the excitement for the day we headed off towards the border a good few kms away and we needed to get cracking.
After a minor detour (lost) we got onto the road/track required and on the pegs it was negoitiated. After a couple of hundred yards or so Peter pulled over and said did you see that child? What child, I didn't see anything. So again with a shrug of the shoulders we set off with Peter in the lead. Less than a minute later a white pick-up full of men in the back bashed into my side knocking me off the bike with the driver screaming and going nuts!
What the hell did this guy think he was doing...? I got into defence mode thinking a robbery was happening and I was to be the victim seeing the guys unload double quick from the truck! Oh S**t!! I can't exactly make a rapid exit as the bike was on it's side and I was wrapped up in biking gear, helmet on and Peter a 100 yds or so up the road, so the fight commenced. I thought the need top get the bike upright and the driver insisting it staying down....? Strange robbery this is?
It transpired when somebody came, speaking some english, an accident had taken place with a kid back down the road!!!!!!!! Bugger, Peter mentioned about a kid!
So after all the messing about Peter came back, sorted the kid to hospital and I had to take the driver of the pick-up to the hospital on the back of my bike. With him obviously not a happy bunny after receiving a slap from me thinking he was gonna nick the bike.
When we arrived at the hospital and woe betide any poor bugger spending time in there! It was a dump but good by African standards. Peter not only had the mother and child being seen by the doc, well, bloke in a blue dirty gown. But he also had 2 Catholic nuns in tow that had seen the whole thing! Nice one Peter!
It transpired the kid had, unseen by me, run into the back of Peters bike not looking where it was going suffering a smacked face from his left pannier and a cracked tooth with the usual river of tears from it and the Mother! Meanwhile, I was getting the blame for hitting the kid!
Peter owned up to me saying he wasn't sure what went on and though the kid got bloody close to the bike but not hit. he did the nice thing of offering to pay for the treatment and the nuns did the negotiations with the mother who was paid for the kids treatment and taxis but no compensation as it as the kids fault, not Peters after all.
The nuns explained this to the mother, she was happy, the nuns were gracious and everybody went away satisfied. I mean the whole bill was less than 30,000CFA (less than 40 quid) So again, off we went being graciously led by the nuns to the correct road and set off again with eyes like hawks for dumb kids!
Thinking that was the end and now no more than a blog entry to remember but how wrong we were.......!
Happily buzzing down the road 40+ miles from Ziguinchor, we stopped for lunch, played with the local kids for a break and resumed the trip. After running into a (bad terminology I know) roadblock consisting of 3 Gendarmes in military uniform our passports were taken from us and insisted we go to the local cop shop. Nothing too amazing there by that request till we got to the police station and informed , after an bit of waiting, that they knew of the accident in the morning and the CHILD WAS DEAD!!!
After some questionning about ourselves, pqrents names, etc and this being relayed by radio to their base, we were ordered to ride our bikes with Gendarme passengers (armed of course!) to the next police station to be met by a commander of sorts to finish questionning. I ended up with the young 'un on the back of my bike insisting ' faster, faster, faster', loving the loud horn I had fitted and waving his arms like a demented road cop! Idiot! With Peter, the older, fatter and decidedly more worried cop on the back of him, none too plussed of the prospect of coming off the bike following the high speed junkie 'young 'un' in the lead!
Once in the next Police station the atmosphere changed from not good to not bloody good at all! With the bikes being impounded and us put in the back of a pick-up and cuffed to one another! After being informed we were going back to Ziguinchor and made to answer for ourselves and all the cops giving us the daggers for killing a kid, my thoughts weren't too good at this stage apart from the fact it wasn't actually me that hit the kid but at this stage I was the one who had the blame upon them, S**T!
After an hour or so were were finally taken in front of the Battalion Commander, who amazingly spoke good english, after training in the states and explained to us they had received a phone call that morning, saying a child was a victim of a 'Hit and Run' by two white bikers fitting our description and resulting in the childs death!
It was explained to him about the mornings events, the payments and the two nuns.
'Ah.. 2 nuns you say? I know them!' said the Commander!! F******G WHEY HEY!! was my initial thought to hearing that lump of gold come out of his mouth!! One thing they don't do in Senegal is piss around with other peoples religions, especially as he was Catholic too. This just couldn't get better! So the Commander brought before him the family and the supposed 'Dead' child, remarkably alive and looking really bemused as to what the heck was going on. Also the 2 nuns and the arse that knocked me off the bike. Thankfully throught the entire 'capture' (in the Commanders words), our personal belongings were still with us. So I was texting a good friend in the UK organising British Foreign Office numbers and the option of an international lawyers to fly in and bail us out if required.
It all ended up with the family trying to pull a fast one and demand more money for the childs supposed lifetime disfigurement. A cracked tooth, Yeah, cheers pal! To be told by the Commander that we'd already done a good thing in the first place and to piss-off home!
Peter and I got released, passports handed back and handshakes all round. I could have bloody kissed the 2 nuns as if it weren't for them we'd probably still be in Senegal being lined up for a few years!
That night a few beers being drunk, the best meal I've tasted in a while and the days events being recounted a few times it was time for an exhausted sleep.
Next day, we had to go over the scene and when we asked for a lift back to the bikes we were shown the bus station! Thanks guys...Not!!
The picture is of Peter and I in the battered Mercedes bus heading back for the bikes feeling greatly releived!!
get me the hell out of Senegal, Sharpish!!
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