There is the easy road to Dakar and then there is the not so easy but far more scenic option. One guess which we chose, fortunately we had company. Chris and Tanya decided the tar road option is the better and left that way, Conrad & Louise, Simon & I decided to go along the beach and set off only to find it was high tide and we had to wait for low before attempting to drive on the beach.
We waited by a fishing village and had lunch. At 4pm we drove onto the beach and down the coast, it was hard going and C&L finally got stuck making us feel a little better about getting stuck ourselves. At 6pm with the setting sun we stopped at a village on the beach, after the boys had obtained permission from the head man we set up camp. That he was not really the head man and that we had to explain ourselves all over again when he did arrive, is beside the point. We were given tea, we shared our pringles and sat around a small fire till late. Conrad tried to teach them to play a type of mouth organ. I think the fire was a novelty because they crowded around it while we sat on the periferie, not being allowed near it or to feed the fire. We had to wait for the village to go to bed before we got the chance.
Up at 6:30 to catch the tide, saying goodbye to the village and driving on the great hard sand of the low tide. Much smoother going and we finally excited at Kayar onto the tar road to Dakar.
Dakar is on a peninsula with two lane road going in and one coming out, now for those of you in the know it is like Jo’burg rush hour traffic, that is two lane going nowhere quickly. We reached the campsite, called camping hippo, at lunch where we promptly had a large sandwich and beer. Now for those of you who know me, please do not become concerned by the frequent mention of beer. It is hard to explain since I normally do not like beer but there is nothing as nice as an ice cold local beer after a hard long drive. Water or coke do not satisfy as much and so every now and then we truly enjoy the beer on offer.
Dinner was a flat samossa type pastry with spicy peanut sauce and sweet dough balls. Wednesday and off to Dakar, we are staying just outside the city but it still takes and age to get in due to the mass of traffic. This place is really like Jo’burg, vibrant, alive, busy, bustling and 6 conmen per square inch. Simon and I spent the day charging around trying to find the TNT office to collect a package sent from Footloose, we commandeered a taxi in the end and 2 1/2 hours later achieved our aim. They had changed the name of the street recently and we knew the new name, the taxi driver the old, add to that the fact that his English was as good as our French and you can just imagine the confusion that ensued. Finally package in hand we are in the main square where we see Conrad and Louise drive by, they had given us a lift in and we were going to buss back, so next thing I know Simon sets off running after them. I have never seen him move that fast but the idea of having to bus back must have spurred him on. Success, he caught up with them and we got a lift home, saved from hours in a stifling hot bus most probably having to stand all the way (reliably informed by Chris and Tanya who had to do it the day before).
Thursday was official spring cleaning day and I got all the sand out of our bed, Simon is so grumpy today as I kicked him out of bed early. I have been unable to open the back door for some time now, it gets stuck and then you have to bump it with your hip while simultaneously pulling up the handle. Simon and Conrad had spent the morning at the car wash and when he got back he fixed the door, grumpy the entire time, but he did fix the door and so now I have no excuse to get him out of bed early.
Late afternoon Hans and Marlize turn up at the campsite, they have a green series III Landy with safari roof, we met them in Morocco and they had come across the sahara with C&L. They had massive problems in Naudibou with their engine and we did not think they would make it, is was good to see them.
Early start on Friday to avoid the traffic and get our visas for Mali and Burkina Faso. Afterwards we went to the markets in dakar looking for music, we are tiring of our music selection having heard our CD’s one time too many. We ended up buying books instead, lunch was in a cafe where we ended up having a huge argument with the manager as Simon said he had given her 10000CFA and she said we gave her 1000CFA so in the end we left without our change. We met up with Hans & Marlize, Conrad & Louise for drinks as H&M were leaving the next day after shipping their Landy back to Holland. Back at camp we have a late night planning session and we decide to go back to St Louis for the Jazz festival while C&L, C&T decide to go onto the Gambia.
C&L,C&T set off before us and when we leave we find them stuck on the road, C&T’s car had problems with the fuel pump and so we tow them to a nearby petrol station to have it seen to. It is official Bob Marley day and we have the best of blaring out the radio at the station and with this in the background we wave goodbye to our friends and set off. We are heading inland as we have time to kill before the festival and so we are going siteseeing. As we head for Mbake it starts to get hot, the further in we go the hotter it gets. We leave the tar and drive on sand roads through veld, the surrounding area is semi-dessert with little villages scattered all over. There are also many circles of burnt brush ? why, we think it has something to do with groundnuts but are not sure. That night we bush camped, I told Simon how Oupa makes tomato sauce and he made dinner, it was delicious. There is a constant hot wind blowing tonight and it feels like you have a hairdryer on you, we are drinking liters of water and still feel dry, the night was a listless one. We were somewhere between Sadio and Tiel, in the distance you could see the fires of a nearby village burning the brush and leaving behind black circles for travelers to wonder at.
Next day I did not want to get up and Simon was first up (much to my amazement as he is the incredible sleeping man). We carried on and reached a town called Linguere where we bought onion, bread and eggs (standard fare for most little towns). So lunch was egg mayo sandwiches with tomato and onion. Now if you are wondering at all the tomato we are eating, well that is Simon’s fault. I sent him to buy 6 from a roadside stall and he came back with a whole bag full, so tomatoes are on the menu for the next couple of days. We are refining our tomato sauce making skills.
Then onto Lagbar, we camped 5km before it. We found a spot to camp surrounded by big trees, so we had a wash and watched the sun set. It is too hot to eat and so we just drink water and go to bed, another restless sticky night. I must mention that during the day we had a flat tyre and that Simon did most of the work, I felt sick from the heat and so sat in the car. We were being watched by villagers when we stopped but even they gave up before the tyre was changed, too hot I imagine.