October 03, 2004 GMT
2004 - Guildford - Dakar Rally !

After a mammoth effort by my Mum and Dad and DHL we finally got our new spokes and after 3 weeks lazing around in St Louis, Paul fixed his wheel and we set of to Dakar.

On our final night in St Louis Martin, the owner, invited us for dinner. Unfortunately this didn' t agree with Paul and he was up all night fertilizing the campsite!!! He was determined to get moving the next day though and so we packed up and set off.......although he didn't do up his helmet in case of a sudden bout of on-road nausea!!!
It was good to be back on the road again, Senegal hasn't got spectacular scenery, but it is a very pretty, green country (well it is in the rainy season at least!). The road to Dakar was easy, but by the time we arrived Paul was feeling dreadful and I thought the Alien was in my tummy..... I searched for a hotel with parking for the bikes, while Paul sat with his head between his knees and once we had checked in we climbed straight into bed and went to sleep......such party animals!
dakar.jpg
Although it feels like we spent most of our 3 days in Dakar in the en-suite bathroom at our hotel, we did manage to drag ourselves away from the toilet bowl to see a bit of the city!!!! We visited the Malian embassy for visas and Pauls broken spokes were no longer broken, but his wheel had a serious wobble, so we spent most of the first day walking the streets trying to find a mechanic who could sort it out. After asking around we found, Toubab (his name means 'white man', so he prefers to be called by his middle name because, as he pointed out, he is a black man!!!) and he fixed the wobble easily. That evening we decided to treat ourselves and went out to a restaurant for some food. We had a traditional peanut dish called Mafe. I don't know if we were still off our food, but i can only describe this dish as minging!!! Luckily it came with chips.....

Day two in Dakar we pounded the streets and bought lots of stuff. Paul had lost his flip flops in Morrocco and in a moment of madness I had allowed him to go shopping alone. Consequently returned with some bright blue, platform flip flops aka baby spice! Thankfully they were very low quality and so we needed to buy some more. It took most of the day to look around the markets, fend off the hoards of vendors and then bargain for everything you buy, but in the end we bought some nice slim-line flipflops and a pair of touristy trousers for Paul and a sarong for me! We had heard some terrible stories about Dakar, but in our experience the people were very persistent (you can never walk alone!), but freindly.
Now that we could keep our food down, we decided to sample some of the famous Dakar nightlife and we hit the town.......unfortunately, it was just me, Paul and about 8 'young ladies' who had decided to 'hit the town', so after a couple of beers in the Jazz club we called it a night!!

The next day we packed up and headed off the the Mali embassy to pick up our visas, before hitting the road. The Malian embassy decided to have an unscheduled holiday, but luckily they had left the gate keeper with full authorisation to issue visas, so we collected our passports and headed east to Mali! (We decided to skip the Gambia because we had spent so much time in Senegal and we need to beat the rainy season in Central Africa).
The road to the border took us 2 days and was pretty badly potholed, but passable. We stayed one night in Kaolak in a Catholic Mission, where we met Pushkar, a Nepalese guy cycling around the world.....and you thought we were wierd!! He had been going since 1998 and hoped to finish in 2009!
The next night we camped in a concrete yard (don't ask, we were too tight to get a room!!) in Tambacounda. This town was our last sure bet for petrol before Mali, so the next morning when we left it was quite distressing to find that they had run out of petrol.....everywhere! Luckily someone had had the presence of mind to stash a barrel of something which looked like beer, so they rolled it out for us to fill up!!! Nervously, we put the brown frothing liquid into our babies and drove off to the Malian border expecting the engines to cut out at any moment!!!!

Posted by Paul Jenkins at October 03, 2004 12:48 PM GMT
 
 

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