Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - Senegal - added by Steve

Getting into Senegal was every bit as bad as we had been warned about. After 2 hours of luckless negotiation at the Diama border post we had to cough up 60 euros to pass through... about 2 to 3 times an average local's monthly salary! That said I'm glad we didn't go to Rosso as we have heard some horror stories that make Diama a cakewalk in comparison. Last week some guy was held up at knife-point and had all his papers stolen off him. There was nothing he could do, except head for St Louis to report it to the police. En-route he was suddenly overtaken by a car which forced him off the road (needless to say he was reluctant to stop!) and was told he could now buy his papers back at vast cost, which he obviously felt compelled to do!

Border negotiated at cost, we made for the nearest town, St Louis. It's a small town built on an island in the Senegal River, with rather faded and crumbling colonial buildings, but a nice relaxed air to it. Our first mission was to find copious amounts of beer to ply our new Dutch friends with in thanks for getting us out of the quagmire! With the chaos of getting stuck, the vagaries of the border and searching St Louis for beer the day had disappeared and we found ourselves on the roads searching for our campsite after dark. This is not to be advised - it's hard enough dodging cars, donkeys, goats and potholes when you can see them! Luckily we were close, and we soon found our way to Zebrabar, a beautiful overlander campsite just south of St Louis. We spent a few days here unwinding and fixing a few things in Songololo that needed sorting out... nothing can take on Africa's roads and emerge unscathed it seems!

Without a doubt Senegal has the worst roads we have encountered so far - stretches of kilometres and kilometres of potholes connected by the faintest suggestion of tarmac! Songololo's suspension also leaves a lot to be desired - leaf springs just don't cut it when it comes to a comfortable ride! It gets so tiring that you just want to stop, but that just means you've got more to do later - coz that road ain't going nowhere! In fact, it's probably deteriorating even more right now as we're having a rest! Damn it, get back on the road! Needless to say they're only going to get worst as we head further south!

Next was a mad dash into Dakar to meet up with a friend of Daryl's who was going to take us around the city in search of a better fridge for our truck. Dakar has the most unbelievable traffic... it took several hours to navigate the 10km into the city centre! However, once we had successfully made it in we found Dakar to be a beautiful city with tree lined avenues and a typically chaotic African pulse. We had a fantastic day walking around, treating ourselves in a few good restaurants and patisseries and enjoying the buzz. Being driven around by our personal chauffeur in a Mercedes SLK in search of a fridge was also brilliant! Thanks a million for organising that for us Daz... any other times you think we need such service please don't hold back!

From Dakar we hit the coast in search of palm tree-fringed golden-sand beaches. We were not disappointed! However, having spent most of the day in the capital we arrived in Saly fairly late in the evening and were unable to find a suitable place to camp. It seemed as if yet another car park was to be the order of the day. Just as we were resigning ourselves to this fact we met some locals and were offered a parking spot next to some guy's grandmother's house. We felt it was about time to get to know the locals better, getting tired of overdoing the tourist route. Before we knew it Songololo was right in the midst of this tiny local village and we spent a fantastic evening being shown around and meeting the family and friends. As luck would have it a neighbour also happened to be throwing a party, so we were treated to some insane Senegalese drumming before we hit the sack, parked in the middle of the village!

Unfortunately our laissez-passer was running out for the truck, so we had to leave Saly the next morning in order to get to the border in a couple of days. Rox found another beautiful village on the beach called Palmarin, so we headed off in a cloud of dust, waving goodbye to our hosts and the gratuitous crowd of onlookers. Shortly after leaving the main tar road for Palmarin, Rox decided it was time for her to learn to drive Songololo. No sooner had she climbed into the driver's seat than the road disintegrated into a potholed goat track! Being so large Songololo is not as easy as driving as a car, and it seemed as if she was purposefully steering into every huge hole we came across, rather than attempting to go around them! For the next few hours I endured a ride reminiscent of a jumping-castle! Thankfully Palmarin was sublime, and we made camp right on the beach. Unfortunately the road had been so bumpy that the lid for our spare gearbox oil had come off the drum on the roof, and we arrived to find the entire roof and sides of Songololo covered in thick oil! What a mess! Everything stank of think gear oil and needless to say it sticks like the proverbial ... to a blanket! So ensued a hilarious episode with heaps of locals attempting to pump water from the sea up onto Songololo, giving up and starting a bucket train instead, pouring sand and water over everything and eventually scrubbing away most of the oil. Rox plied them with drinks and snacks, and before we knew it we had a clean truck!

Tomorrow we head to Gambia, where we will finally be able to speak English again - what bliss!


1 .
Thanks for the update guys!
Trish - 7 Dec 2008, 14:59
2 .
Just caught up with your travels!!Songololo in Mauritania looks pretty hair raising! Clem Grey
clem Grey - 8 Dec 2008, 14:55
3 .
So you had to pay your first bribe - lets hope it the last!
Nick - 10 Dec 2008, 10:11
4 .
Keep writing, its like being there and is getting us through the winter,great photos too.Actually today we have brilliant sunshine, an incentive to finish the christmas shopping. Where will you be at christmas, do you know yet? Gran
Gran - 10 Dec 2008, 12:49
5 .
You guys are getting to be old hands at this overland thing already, it seems! I'd have expected nothing less from Roxy's driving exploits, you go girl! Another tale to add to the list, hee hee. You're both incredible, good going, will tap in again soon. Lots of love X
Nins Weavind - 17 Dec 2008, 17:46
6 .
Still jealous here guys. You aren't missing anything in London, that's for sure. As for the leaf least they are still intact. Keep on trucking!
Robbie B - 18 Dec 2008, 11:32
7 .
Happy Christmas; I hope that where ever you are you have a great day.Love from Gran and all at Swan Close.
Gran - 24 Dec 2008, 18:03
8 .
lori and foxy roxy....we don't have a number for you so gonna have to wish you a super happy african christmas thru the site....hope it is a good one and that santa was able to find you. daz and robs
daryl and robs - 25 Dec 2008, 10:00

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