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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Senegal, Part 3

Day 5 – 28/4/12

A latish start to the day. The road to M’bour was not the best, some good bits with potholed, over repaired and totally degraded sections. There were lots of trucks on the road and Saturday seemed to be market day at a lot of the towns.

As we approached M’Bour Ray joked, we might find a clean restaurant, with good food, cold diet coke and internet. And, guess what we did. Very nice people at the Restro Paolo. Pierre Younis a friend of Didier (from Gabon & Ivory Coast) came to meet us there.

The topography is flat, again. The vegetation seems to have returned to savannah/transition/Sahel. Very dry, hot and dusty. There was a vicious northerly wind blowing all day which reduced visibility considerably and made conditions very unpleasant.

We camped at the Ferme du Saly, a bit off the beach and went for a swim – or rather a paddle. Somewhere between Sierra Leone and here the currents have changed and the water was quite cold. A bit too cold for us wimps to swim.

In the evening we had dinner with Pierre, Sandra and their 2 children

Ray driving. 181 km. 3.5 hrs . N 140 25’ 36.7’’ W 0160 59’ 44.9’’

Day 6 – 29/4/12

Not such a good night. We arrived home from the dinner late and there was a loud beach party or disco going on. OK, but to make matters worse it seemed that a nearby mosque had decided to compete with them. So, we had a mix of disco and Islamic prayers blasting out. At some point the whole thing ended – for a time. Then at ~ 04:45 (Ray checked the time) the mosques started up again. Not as per our Egyptian experience, all at ~ the same time for a few minutes. Here, the various mosques staggered their times and as per the African experience, they turned up their amplifiers until the sound from the speakers was distorted. The whole cacophony lasted until after 06:00. Then there was another burst after sunrise.

So, sleep deprived, we set out for Dakar. The weather was horrible. The landscape is flat and almost devoid of trees. A hot north wind blasted across the plain with loads of dust making for poor visibility and a really dreadful day. Overnight, the dust had covered all our “stuff” so we will need a couple of days cleaning when the storm finishes.

We drove to Dakar and Avril managed to, subtly, find the best restaurant in town – Lagon 1. So, we had a wonderful lunch sitting over the ocean, waves crashing and wonderful food: Avril Lamb shoulder and Ray tagliatelle sea food.

Just after we left the restaurant we got a message from Pierre, by coincidence he was spending the day with Patrice & Picky, a lovely French couple we had met at the Niokolo Doba National park and their friends Anne & Francis. They had asked us to stay with them near the beach, but we could not make contact (turned out we had the wrong phone number). They were now “insistent” we come back to spend some time with them. Fantastic.

We drove back and managed to find some one who knew their security guard and hence their house.

After we settled into the guest house we had a swim followed by aperitifs. Then Pierre, Sandra and their family came around and we all went out for dinner.

Avril driving. 217 km. N  140 22’ 08.4’’ W 0160 56’ 30.5’’

Day 7 – 30/4/12

We had our best night sleep in a long time, then a late breakfast. We then went to the local M’Bour market with our hosts. Unfortunately this was not the best time. Before we even entered the market a couple of local lads hassled Francis and tried to steal his camera, Ray managed to get between the robbers and Francis and prevent the theft. As we went into the market we were continually hassled by numerous men, some times aggressively. It became quite unpleasant. A one point Ray bundled Avril into a cloth shop to wait out the aggressors. One of the (rasta) men then tried to trip Patrice as he walked pass. Eventually we managed to get to the fish market, make our purchases and take a different route back to the vehicle.

We may not have mentioned it before, but there is a lot of rasta people in the Gambia and the northern section of Senegal. They are not the cool dudes as represented in the west, rather it seems, some chaffs, with a bleary/glassy eye look and the dread locks, a big coloured beret/hat and swagger but rapidly become very aggressive.

The rest of the day went quickly around the pool, lunch, a couple of beers and for Ray and afternoon nap. Patrice had purchased a large fish and backed it in salt. We had a wonderful dinner.

Day 8 – 1/5/12

Again, we had a good nights sleep. After breakfast we purchased a freshly caught fish, “capitan”,  from a local chap who had come to the gate. $2 for a good sized fish which the fisherman also gutted and filleted. We said our thanks to Patrice, Picky, Francis & Anne for a wonderful time. This was a great break for us.

We then drove to Lake Rose, just north of Dakar. The road from M’Bour to Dakar is OK, but has heavy truck traffic. The road north out of Dakar to Lac Rose is very bad. The lake is famous for being the end of the Paris – Dakar rally. It has a very high salt content (> the Dead Sea) and is a dusty red from the iron oxide secreted by bacteria.

We went for a walk around the lake, but were hassled by a local rasta trying to sell something. Our rejection generated an immediate aggressive response. Of course, that made the walk unpleasant, so we returned to our camp and went for a drive around the lake.

We camped at Ma Petite Carmargue. Nice people, good food, cold beer and clean, OK facilities.

With the north wind, we have not seen the sun for a few days. Hopefully the “return of the harmattan” will not be too long.

Avril driving. 91 km. 2.5 hrs. N  140 49’ 49.1’’ W 0170 13’ 31.6’’

Day 9 – 2/5/12

We drove up to the Zebrabar, a well known overlander stopover south of St Louis. The country side now is all Sahel, quite flat with low scrub and not many trees. It seemed that the towns along the way use the ville entrance as a rubbish dump. This then makes for a very unpleasant view and odour leading  into the town. The north of Senegal has probably the worst litter we have seen for a long time.

We settled into our camp and greeted a couple of Dutch overlanders and a French couple. After dinner they all came over to “ours” and we sat around chatting for a few hours.

Avril driving. 251 km. 5 hrs . N  130 18’ 46.4’’ W 0140 13’ 28.9’’

Day 10 – 3/5/12

We drove into St Louis for a look see. There is a single bridge leading to the island and it was closed. There was a student strike and demonstration – a lot of the arts faculty baby boomers will remember those. So, we waited out the time. Avril took the opportunity to make some new boy friends.

St Louis has the potential to be the local Venice. Unfortunately the “bumpsters” and young boy beggars make it impossible to relax and have a quite stroll. The lack of litter control, lots of urban animal husbandry and a medieval approach to sanitation (i.e. they throw waste out the windows) also need to be improved before the touristic experience will be enjoyable.

There was a nice patisserie with Wifi which we enjoyed. We had a look in the local market for some material (Avril needs a new frock for an upcoming wedding in London), but nothing took her fancy here.

Day 11 – 4/5/12

Ray went into St Louis to have a chat to the local CFAO re a vehicle service. Avril remained at camp to do laundry. We relaxed in the afternoon.

A few environmental points since crossing into The Gambia and north Senegal:

We think we have now seen some of  the worst flies, ever – Avril reckons she will never complain about the flies in Oz again.

The mosquitos are worse than further south. Maybe the time of the year?

Away from the coast it is very hot, however at the coast it is cool. We need to wear long pants and a warm top in the evening. Still no need for a blanket on the bed.

Day 12– 5/5/12

Chores & relaxing.
Part of the days interest was watching a snake kill and then eat a lizard in the camp ground. Australia may have a reputation for snakes, but we have seen a lot more in Africa than at home.

Day 13 – 6/5/12
Cleaning & relaxing.
We invited a Uwe Welitsch (German chap) Jabril ElBandar (his Moroccan) driver; driving North to South, over for dinner and had a good natter about routes, places to stay etc.

Day 14 – 7/5/12
Relaxing and Avril washing (but she finds this relaxing anyway!). We walked to the local village to get some fruit and veg. The north of Senegal does not seem to have a supply of good quality fresh produce.

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