Arrive in Senegal

Trip Start Aug 24, 2005
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Trip End Aug 27, 2005


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Flag of Senegal  ,
Monday, August 22, 2005

The airplane flying over was quite a zoo. A group of about 20 kids coming
back from a soccer game in Paris were naturally quite excited. They were
teasing the kid who got stuck next to me. The plane was about 20% white
passengers, about 15% americans.
I had reserved a mid-priced hotel and the taxi at the airport knew right
where it was, even though it was a half mile off the main road and down
a really bumpy dirt road (I though I was going to have to walk with my
luggage). I paid him in French francs I had bought during my layover in
Paris.
I was so exhausted after 16 hours of travelling that when I got to the hotel
about 9pm local time, I collapsed into bed, though it was still only 4pm
US time. I woke up the next morning 12 hours later, a touch groggy, but
pretty well switched over to
Senegal time.
I headed down town on the local bus, ironically called a 'car rapide'. It's
the slowest thing on the road, only about twice as fast as walking, and it stops
every 200 yards to either pick someone up or drop them off. The engine always

sounds like it should have died 200,000 miles ago. The seats are often torn so
you may be sitting on a board (if you're lucky to get a seat) but the people are
always interesting. I had to laugh at one guy. His wife was yellling at him as the
bus drove up, so to get out of the fight, he jumped on the bus, yelling
'sorry,
sorry' in Wolof as the bus took off and she yelled after him until the
bus was out of shouting range. I'll have to remember that trick.

I was lucky. The end of the bus line was right close to a bank that  directed me to
the correct bank to change American travellers checks. But I was unlucky too.
They didn't like the photocopy of my passport and so they wouldn't touch the

checks. SO back I went, I luckily had 1500 francs ($5) as change from the taxi
last night so I had a little local money to play with. The bus into town was 25
cents. I got a coffee on the street for another 100 francs and splurged on some

sunglasses. The guy insisted that they were $50, but dropped to $3 as I told
him I only had $3. I think I still got taken a little 'cause another vendor
immediately offered a second for the same price. And once my wallet came out
I was
swarmed by folks for a block . My rescue came from a strange source. A
guy started talking English to me, not trying to sell me anything, so I talked, and
ended up buying a couple of shirts from his brother, a CD cut by another of his
brothers Pape Diouf - a musician.

Apparently there are 30 brothers and sisters total. His father was big man, 4
(official) wives and at one point even got to meet the president at the time.
Named his next son after him. That's how we started. He introduced himself
as Abdou Diouf. I laughed and told him I was
George Bush, and he laughed.
He bought the shirts and the CD for me on credit. I made the deals, he ran the
money. We drove back to the hotel together and he happily scooped up some
of my US dollars, which he'll be able to get a better exchange rate than I will
from businessmen
who want foreign currency. Banks are always the worst
thieves around. Just as we got back to the hotel, the rain came down HARD.
We had just a long enough break to catch a taxi back downtown. On the way
we got pulled over to let a group of foreign
dignitaries in their BMWs pass by,
and finally lurched our way back to the market where it all started. This time I
had my passport and some cash to flash. I went to an artisan market and bought
a small series of wooden masks - one for each day of the week.
While I was there I didn't use any hot water or A/C to get acclimated for the
next leg of the trip. I was still dying from the heat on the bus ride 2 days later.
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