Published: December 4th 2009
December 3rd 2009
found a sign to prove i have actually been there !!!!!!
Dakar, I made it!!!!! Seems a little surreal but I am actually there, so all those who promised to donate to the air ambulance, now is the time to put your hands in your pockets and pledge a couple of quid.
Me and Nigel had a very enjoyable ride from the zebrabar to Dakar, the roads were ok and we were always entertained by looking at the various wildlife on the way , alive and dead! The countryside is very lush compared to the north with stuff like trees !! we had not seen these it seems for ages. Coming into town it got pretty busy and choked up, this and the bad state of the roads made it quite interesting too.Eventually we found our digs a little place on the beach, a quiet oasis in a mad mad city.After a well earned luxurious shower and a very nice meal i think we both slept like the proverbial logs...hmm the two bottles of red wine might have helped too !
Next day woke not so bright or early, eventually hit the market for some bits and pieces for Nigel and a repair to his garmin which had rattled
On the roof of our pad in Dakar, djembe lessons till your fingers bleed.
itself to bits on the rough ground. Later we took a taxi to the airport for a sign saying Dakar, the only one anyone could definitely say was there.The people here are very different, very outgoing and the women (most but not all ) are very elegant and beautiful.The Place is very how shall i say .....faded, a ghost of its colonial past, but at the same time has an amazing power and energy, day or night there is a party going off with music the heartbeat of the city.
Was a sad ride out of town the next morning, was going to say bye to Nigel who was turning right to the Gambia border and I was starting my long trek north. Firm handshakes done with a stiff upper lip, I was alone again, as so much of this trip had been, thought long and hard which i prefer and i can honestly say I don't know, Both have there advantages and disadvantages, as i will testify to later....
I was a bit apprehensive about the border crossing, as I always tend to be, dealing with corrupt officials is an art and one that I am learning. The
Bignose goes south
Nigel peels off right and south to the Gambia border, will miss my companion of the last few thousand km's
route to the border is a little road and a little rough track, found my way and to my relief they all greeted me like a long lost friend Senegalese and Mauritanian, they were all genuinely interested in my trip where the others were and waived my fees yet again !!! the Mauritanian police tried there hardest to get 4000 out of me (about £10 ) but I had premptied this and had my wallet full of old currency's from the different country's and after inspecting the notes laughing and joking kicked me out of the office, the Douane you do have to pay for a transit document that you get asked for at the many checkpoints. Another nice meeting was the park ranger and Police at the checkpoint at the start of the very rough 90Km stretch of dirt to the tarmac, we laughed and joked and they warned me of a convoy heading this way.
50Km on all was going well, the track forks at this point and to the north is Nouakchott and to the east is Rosso, there is an armed military guy at this junction an he says road north ok, so i head in
Road to Rosso
This is 96km of ruts deep sand and holes filled with bull dust. But the wildlife of wild boar, birds and lizards ( massive ones ! ) and of coarse monkeys make it a worth while effort
that direction ( coming we did the rosso route as we were told the diama crossing might be closed ).
About 15Km the road was getting progressively worse with stretches of deep sand, with a companion this is bad but easier but on your own it is time consuming and hot work digging the bike out in 40oC, got to a village and the convoy passes in the other direction, it is the Spanish guys that had one of there vehicles and two people taken by they suspect AQ, we stop chat and I pass on my best wish's for there friends, they tell me the direction i am going is very bad , and they use two six wheel drive trucks towing a single truck behind to get through. Another 20Km on I am stuck, under the sand are the occasional rocks, I am ledged on one, both wheels clear of the ground and deep sand for and aft.I struggle and sweat and eventually get clear go a bit further to find the trucks have really torn the track up, i find a spot to turn and do it all again to get to where i started !!!! but
Spanish Aid convoy
Aid convoy stuck in deep deep sand, and i was stuck behind them!!
the trucks are also stuck in soft sand and it is too narrow to pass, we all help dig and cross our fingers and an hour later i get free, Eventually i get back to the turn and head for Rosso, now this is a horrible and intimidating place and i know there is essence (petrol ) their but also there is some in 100km or so, so as i am massively behind schedule to get to the camp site before dark i push on.Get to the village with fuel to find all three places with pumps, Not stations like we all know, have no essence just gasoil.....shit.I am assured there is essence in 10-20km.I carry on, not long further on the reserve light comes on, I don't find any fuel, nothing just desert and its now getting dark, the one thing you don't do in Africa is run out of fuel in the desert and travel in the dark, i am about to do both.
I push on and hope , after 50km I know the bike is about to stop, I have maybe 20 km left max, 65km to Nouakchott and 50km to the village with no essence
Two of these linked together to give two lots of six driven wheels pulled the trucks through the deep sand, but chewed the track up badly and had to dig the bike out a couple of times too.
I see a cow freshly hit by a truck in the road, that's it....if it had been me i would be no more, so i look for a camp spot. I see a tent with some goat herders just off the road i pull in and ask if i can crash for the night, they give me mint tea and the guy makes some calls, he has found petrol, just have to fetch it in his car,buy him five liters of diesel for his trouble and return happy knowing if i take it easy that should get me to the city of Nouakchott in the morning.We have an evening of folk singing and laughter, with many teas.I sleep in the open air on there rugs and pillows and wait for sunrise.
Say my goodbyes and head for town, find a garage and brim her....and then find camping Menata. Sleeping on the roof under the stars, what a fantastic way to remember Africa.
Had a nice night at camping Menata, Spent the evening in the company of a French guy , the KTM spent the evening with a camel !!!! was sure i was going to wake up to find
Tea in the morning with the family I stumbled upon in the desert when nearly out of fuel and light the night before. (had water and cheese though ! which we had for breakfast )
the bike trampled into little pieces as the camel struggled to reach the branches of the tree that i was parked next too, but i need not have worried as all was well in the morning. Got up before sunrise loaded and on my way as the city began to wake.The next 500km's flew bye and I was under a shower at camping abba in no time at all, there was a high military presence on the road as expected, 11 checkpoints in total, but most were passed with a wave and a salute. Tomorrow another border ( 26 countries up to now ) and another blog........