Senegal & The Gambia - coconuts & bribes
Whilst we wait and wait for our Senegalese visas at the embassy after hours of arduous pigeon english/french translations. Rob and I sit quietly like school children next to an official desk that looks like a table used at a b'day party with a tiedyed cloth, 2 plastic chairs, a 80's phone and a crumbled up senegal tourism poster tacked on by a single piece of bluetack.
Alas, we eventually get told that visas will not be ready until Monday (5 days away)!!! Monday comes, again we get turned away to come back later, increasing frustration but we try to remain patient. Finally, we filed into a room where we watch a man silently for 20 mins proudly glue stamps into our passports and then Senegal, here we come!
village girls meandering near st louis
We avoid the notoriously bad Rosso border and hit the Diama borders off road but it's still full of money hungry corrupt officials, Rob is quite calm but I get quite aggitated and refuse to pay money (am told it could get us into trouble) and our Mauritania insurance ran out by 4 days as we had to wait for our Senegalese Visa. We then get faced with our first bribe! The customs officials asks for our expired insurance, Rob and I pretend to fumble for it to stall time but it doesn't work. He tells us "if you give me 10 Euros, I turn a blind eye, you ride through" so we pay up.
At the border, we managed to catch the officials at lunch so the border subsequently gets closed for an hour and a half, we then get subjected to "offer me a soft drink" when it reopens for an official stamp. What the!!! we say we have no money as all the police have fleeced us dry so he slams our passports on the table and lets out a huge sigh gesturing us to leave......
local boys mucking about
Senegal! We stay south of St Louis for 6 days relaxing in a national park, kayaking and learning how to windsurf. We privledged that we get invited to a local's house for dinner. I play local fooze ball - African style with the family, comprised of a cardboard box, long sticks with cut up bits of rubber thongs (flip flops for those of you with dirty minds) as players. Fits of laughters. We sit in a hot dimly lit room with about 20 kids all wanted to talk and play with us. The poverty that these people live in really makes you realise how lucky we are, and in some strange way unlucky aswell.
After relaxation we take another piste towards Lac Rose/Rebta (Lake Rose) where the Paris to Dakar rally officially ends. It was only 16kms but yet bloody hard work. Ruts of interwining sand tracks, uneven grounds, arcacia trees with puncturing thorns and grass that was hittng the top of my helmet as I ride through. We take a short break as we pass a lively village with blaring music and women dressed in beautiful clothing - turned out to be a wedding! What a sight to see.
Pink salt waters in Lac Rose, where the official paris to rally ends
We decide to stay at the 'most expensive' hotel in Senegal with a pool, dunes and the lake in the background and laze around with some mad dutchmens. We ride towards Dakar, dodging absolute manic traffic....... Arc De Triomphe eat your heart out! We managed to stay in a hotel and later find out it doubles up as a brothel on the first floor (Rob & I reminisce for those of you who know our story)
hand or feet carvings
We cross to The Gambia border, which surprisingly is a breeze compared to our last border. No bribes, no hassles, carnets stamped in & out. We ever get given a raspberry slushy to drink from one of the officers & people speak english! All documents completed, we start to ride off only to be stopped suddenly & told we cannot go anywhere until 2pm because its National Clean Up The Gambia day.
At 2pm, its a national rat race to the ferry to Banjul.
women in a remote village
We board the barge along with huge old trucks & are directed to the side gunnels. Rob's AT is parked amongst a pile of wooden planks & an oil drum. A huge truck proceeds to squeeze forward omniously & crunches Rob's panniers! Rob & I are frantically banging & yelling at the truck driver to stop as he continues to go forward. People start to crowd & yelling begins, I get told not to stand where I am cos the trucks usually have no brakes & I could have been crushed..... I lose it & have a heated argument with the barge driver cos they wanted to continue moving the truck forward, hence crushing Rob's pannier. The concept to move the truck back, so we could then move the bike over so they truck could move forward easily was way to hard a concept for them to fathom. Eventually, oil drum was lifted up with help of friendly locals, bike ok, truck moves forwards.
curious kids peering at us
On our 1st night in Sukuta, Rob had a bout of diarrhoea before bed. Later, he awakes in the middle of the night with hot & cold shivers & a very high fever. I get worried & watch him vigilantly, I even wake the night watchmen to get a taxi but he sais there are no taxi at this time. Morning comes, Rob is no better.
Taxi to the nearest hospital, which turns out to be a maternity health centre in a small village! The disinterested doctor diagnoses him with food poisoning & gives him some tablets for diarrhoea. Rob's in agonising pain, I rush to get him fanta as this is what the doctor has prescribed. An hour later, the fever doesn't settle & the doctor then suspects malaria with the formal test of touching his forehead. I request a blood test. It's negative but they start him on a course of malaria treatment, comprising of a shot in his arse because they don't want the risk of a tourist dying in their country. Rob becomes even more unwell, sweating & vomiting profusely (one time it was orange from the fanta). I decide he needs better medical treatment & we get an ambulance to Banjul Royal Victoria Hospital. The ambulance driver randomly puts on the siren when he feels like it & we drive madly over bumpy dirt roads, near missing people, donkeys & traffic. I look over & see poor Rob bouncing high off the stretcher whilst he's still groaning. I start to lose patience when the ambulance drivers wants to stop in the petrol station to pay for the fuel........"drive & I pay you!, just drive to the hospital" I'm thinking how thick can these people be. Triage, more tests. They start him on another course of IV Malaria treatment... A concotion of drugs later, Rob is nauseas but funnily enough demands they use the smallest needles as they just ram it in. Rob is feeling only slightly better. After the IV Quinine drip, they send us home. Rob vomits again before he gets into the ambulance & we head home praying he's ok.
Maternity ward, Sukuta
After Rob recovering fully, we head to the southern part of Senegal, the Casamance region. Lush, green and an abundance of flora and fauna, we head to a small village along goat tracks that cars wouldnt be able to go down. Stay in am Impluvium, a round mud hut that was used for shelter & saftey during the war. Next destination, Guinea Bissau
Posted by Amy Lee at 05:09 PM