Date: 9th Feb 08
Location: St Louis, Senegal
Weather: Clear blue skies, sunshine with a little breeze, 28°c
Status: All – we have officially landed on planet awesome
Oh my god!! This has been the best 24hrs since we left the UK….life has just hit the greatest heights so far on the trip, let me explain…..
Once we’d gone to bed in Nouakchott the noise started, horns and sirens were everywhere in the city as Egypt had just beaten the Ivory Coast in the football to get through to the African Cup final and being an Arabic country the Mauritanians supported the Egyptians so celebrations went on long into the night!! Couldn’t sleep so went out onto the street to watch the chaos go on into the early hours….
Did a quick service on the car and the patron of the auberge was very interested, so sat with him and chatted for a while until we were finally offered the inevitable camels milk for breakfast! We were both pretty sceptical about trying it but dived in anyway and were pleasantly surprised…it was better than the UHT we’d been drinking for the last few days, but only discovered later on in the day that its actually a laxative, that would account for the rumbling belly then!!
So left the madness of the capital and hit the road again for the final drive through the desert before reaching the border and the comfort of Senegal. Two choices either the chaos of Rosso or a drive down through the beauty of the national park to the border at Diama….easy then!! After a 100km dusty, bouncy track we finally arrived happy to see the officials were still there and the bridge was open!
Did the usual formalities and then realised we had no euros left to pay the bridge fee or our passport fees for Senegal but luckily there a group of French tourists were there to help us out with some. Once we’d crossed into Senegal the next problem was we had no money to pay for the west African car insurance but the kind lady behind the counter told us we could take one of her friends and they would take us to the cash machine and let us get the money which they’d then take back to her…this turned out to be the BEST thing we could have hoped to happen!!
We drove into the city and straight away had beaming smiles on our faces….we’d arrived in black Africa and boy did we know it, the people, the clothes, the buses, the police the whole atmosphere swallowed us up and our newly acquired friend took us through the back streets to avoid the road blocks and once we’d sorted out the money our next stop was his house and family….all 20 of them including at least 10 kids running riot as we turned their Friday night upside down!
It turned out that his family are famous in Senegal for their music and jembe playing so once we’d got 5and boy did we know it, the people, the clothes, the buses, the police the whole atmosphere swallowed us up and our newly acquired friend took us through the back streets to avoid the road blocks and once we’d sorted out the money our next stop was his house and family….all 20 of them including at least 10 kids running riot as we turned their Friday night upside down!
It turned out that his family are famous in Senegal for their music and jembe playing so once we’d got 5 people and 4 drums in the already full car we headed out of town to the beach and tranquillity! Stopped briefly to buy our first cold beers in a month and a bottle of whisky and in the dark made for a long spit of land with water all around.
The next few hours were just the best we sat and chatted in our pigeon French, learned to try and play the drums and drank until we laughed so much the tears began to roll all around as the night wore on.
And that’s exactly where I am now, sat on the banks of the Senegal river under coconut palms with white sand and sunshine, the waters warm, the people so friendly and accommodating and our minds and hearts intensely happy after a testing drive across the desert!
Tonight is the final of the football so we’ll head into town and here we’ll support Cameroon (as now we’re in black Africa not Arabic) and then who knows, another shit day in Africa!
End of day location: St Louis, Senegal
Distance covered: 320kms