We left Nouakchott (NKT) early on Weds 1st September and headed south for Senegal. We wanted to get the border crossing out of the way as quickly as possible!
First we need to get some petrol for the bikes, which proved to be a more difficult task than either of us had anticipated, when we eventually found the only 'Super' seller in NKT we realised I had spent all our oogs (the local currency) phoning home the night before.....ooops! Too lazy to ride back inot the city, we managed to get the worst exchange rate for dollars ever seen, since records began and we were on our way!
As soon as we left NKT the scenery started to change......there was a bit of grass and then even some trees! By the time we reached Rosso and the Senegalese border it was lush green countryside.
To be honest the least said about the border crossing the better. We had read advice from previous travellers about how to get across without being conned out of all your cash and patience. After 5 hours we were through the otherside, out of Mauritania and into Senegal. We still had some of our cash, but had lost so much of our patience we had to use some of our left over cash to buy more!!! All I can say is that I hope there is a special place in Hell for the touts who hang around borders and i hope it is REALLY hot!
By the time we left the border, it was 6pm ish and we started to make our way south to St Louis, where we had been recommened a great campsite. We had been told about it by an overlander in Casablanca and he said it would be just what we needed after the border! He was right! We arrived after dark at ZebraBar about 20kms south of St Louis. Freindly faces greeted us as we came through the gate tired and jaded, Martin the owner and Guido a biker, both Swiss and Arne another biker from Germany, and we soon had cold beers and good conversation to take our minds off the day we'd just had!
The next morning we woke to find we were on a beautiful island (riding through water the night before, should have given us a clue!) in the middle of the Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie. It is beautiful, with sandy beaches, blue sea, palm trees and lots of lots and lots of crabs.
Arne turned out to be a mechanic and so had a go at fixing some of Pauls spokes. He found more were broken than we originally thought and snapped one trying to tighten it....... our fate was sealed, we would have to hang around until some replacement spokes were sent from the UK.
We had been travvlling for almost a month and had covered 5000 miles without a break, so this was a welcome excuse to stay put for a while, chill out and get a tan!
We have been here for 10days now, still waiting for the spokes! Paul decided to take up windsurfing and has become quite good.
Although in the beginning he fell off quite alot and kept hitting the water head first, which has given him an 'ear canal infection'(.....his diagnosis!), so now the sea is off limits and he has taken up fishing instead. His first attempt at sea fishing in a kayak, went quite well, but he had to cut it short due to sea-sickness! Subsequent river fishing in the kayak has proved less sickly, but produced a similar amount of fish.......none!
While Paul has been engaging in all these activities I have been working on my tan, which is going pretty well! I wouldn't normally allow bikini shots to be placed on the web, but it proves to our parents that we are still eating well!!!
The local land crabs are keeping us company, while we stay in St Louis! We have one who lives in our luggage and keeps an eye on both of us during the day and then rummages through our possesions throughout the night, keeping us awake! The National Park is mainly for the protection of birds and so there are lots of herons, and other such bird like creatures ( i think you can see we are experts on birds now!).
We have also seen the tail end of the massive swarm of locusts, which has been rampaging through West Africa.
I think they had become a little bit tired of rampaging by the time we saw them, but it was still very impressive and they pack quite a punch when you ride through them....and leave a bit of a mess!
So next once Pauls bike is fixed we are heading to Dakar......to complete our own little Guildford - Dakar rally and then on the Gambia, Southern Senegal and then Mali. We are still in discussion about whether to go to Timbuktu......not sure if I can hack all that sand again! Paul has got plenty of time to try and talk me around though!!!!
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!
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!!!!
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