In englishEesti keeles

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Senegal, final destination in Africa

In the morning we took off from the capital of Mauritania Nouakchott fearing how much time we have to spend on the border with Senegal. We were driving in the direction of Rosso, as GPS showed it is the shortest way to Diama border station. While roads in northern Mauritania were as good as in Morocco, southern Mauritania had roads dotted with holes and our drive turned out to be nerve-wracking and full of surprises.

About half the way to the border two local guys with Volkswagen were trying to stop us. We did not react relying on our 3 tons. In the next checkpoint these guys approached us. One of them introduced himself as Mamodov Sy. The guys promised to get us through Rosso border station. When we mentioned that we were going through Diama, they phoned to a "policeman from Diama" who informed us that the road is blocked by a large truck. If I said that we were ready to take the risk and take a look at the truck, we were informed that we cannot buy insurance in Diama and we cannot cross the border without the insurance. Mamodov told that he was going to drive with us standing on the doorstep to Rosso border station and the police would tell us about the insurance. As soon as a policeman saw Mamodov, we were not allowed to move without buying Senegal car insurance. As we showed the documents, Mamodov slipped our Mauritanian insurance into his hand and voluntarily went to buy for us Senegal insurance. So we couldn't drive away either. At the same time policeman was asking for a giveaway and we gave him Amphibear souvenir compass. Mamodov returned with the insurance, €137 for 10 days. He didn't lose his nerve while we were laughing him out and after stressful negotiations and trying to fool each other we gave him €50 and drove away.

That was the beginning of our African safari. Because the terrain we were driving could barely be called a road. It was more like following unknown tracks in the nature, looking for smoother surface. Amphibear's high center of gravity and protruding pontoons provided us extra challenges.

Sometimes so called road was so bad, that the tracks were forming a path next to the place where road should be. And the roadsides were full of surprises for us as well.

We were driving close to Senegal River through the national park. Desert was replaced by savanna.

Savanna was alternating with marshlands full of puddles of different sizes. Some puddles were covered with blossoms. We saw all kinds of birds and a lot of warthogs: they were everywhere like hares in northern Europe.

Even while driving through what seemed to be untouched nature we saw people applauding us when we passed. Feels like proper Africa. There were few checkpoints, but less and less when we moved further away from Rosso. Then came feared border: three different checkpoints and two boom gates. We paid 10€ everywhere, some of it even left impression to be official fees. After we had left Mauritania, we crossed the dam until we reached Senegal border. First we paid 7€ fee for crossing the dam and got a receipt for that. Then again an entry in border guard book and then to feared customs.

I have never seen such joyful and intelligent customs officers. Amphibear attracted attention, some respect and the papers were completed very fast compared to our previous experience in Africa. We paid a 5€ fee and I got a receipt on top. We saw police patrols on the roads in Senegal, but nobody was hoarding copies of passports. The patrols were actually checking if we had driving license and if the vehicle complied with the rules.

Finally we reached St Louis: dusty, dirty, colourful and vibrant.

When two larger cars meet on a narrow street in Senegal, somebody always comes to organise the traffic, show the way, smile joyfully or just wave friendly at you. Expectations are high. St Louis is an important milestone on Amphibear's journey. We have arrived without any incident or scratch and ocean is waiting for us.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your interesting blog-posts about the journey. I hope, all will be well on your trip over the ocean to Cape Verde and afterwards to Brazil. Keep up the good work with your trip, the documentation and last, but not least keep a good mood also in situations like on the border of Marocco. Good luck!


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