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December 5th 2004
Published: December 5th 2004
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Exhausted after our border crossing, and with sunset due to descend we asked a farmer if we could camp on his little strip of land by the side of the road. He cordially obliged and much interest was shown in the Landrover & the roof tent, and we were invited to join them for a dinner of rice, fish and peanuts as they huddled round hot charcoal burners to keep warm (amusing for us as we were still overheated from the hot day). We left bright and early and headed for St Louis where we found a great place to stay for a couple nights - Les Cafe des Arts. I loved St Louis - it was really easy to find places, as all its streets are basically on a grid system, like New York or Glasgow. The locals were really friendly and I certainly didn't get any hassle when I walked around on my own. At the pension, we were very bemused to find the locals glued to the TV & watching Chelsea v Newcastle live with french commentary! Not only did we treat ourselves to a hotel room, but also to a slap up meal at a nice restaurant - steak & chips with a bottle of vin rouge - all for about 13 pounds which we felt very guilty about. There was music to be heard everywhere and many street parties going on - and word soon got out about the englishman with the new landrover discovery who had just arrived in town, and we lost count of the number of offers to buy the vehicle we received (none of which were quite enough to tempt us).

We left St Louis feeling thoroughly rested and set off cross country for the border crossing into Mali at Kidira. Unfortunately, we hadn't bargained for the poor state of the roads - we literally crawled at 10 mph to Kidira, camping rough for 3 nights. The red clay roads are just not maintained & pothole followed pothole - I drove one day for about 2 hours & was completely exhausted at the end of it. The plus side to the route was the many little villages we passed, all of them really friendly and welcoming. We filmed quite a few of them, which they loved, and gave away many 'cadeux', although I still maintain that we are corrupting them by giving them western toys & gifts!

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