Senegalese travel

Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
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13
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Trip End Apr 01, 2007


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Flag of Senegal  ,
Friday, September 9, 2005

Yesterday was a long day.
It started at the beach, in the pouring rain. The plan was to leave around 8 or 9 AM for Djiam Niajo to catch a car to Tambacounda. The total travel distance was not more than 500 km. No problem...one would think.
The rain put a slight kink in the departure time, which ended up being 11:30. The first leg of the journey was so smoothe it was hard to believe. My friend and i walked with our packs to the main road, and not two minutes later an Alhum (which i think ive mentioned previously..but it deserves a recap)..25 person 'van' from the 1960's that usually holds between 30 and 45 ppl. There is a person standing on the outside of the vehicle on the back bumper collecting money and making up prices as he feels fit, and then helping passengers get into the moving vehicle as it slows down passing through town. we caught the alhum and headed for the next town to catch a car. About 5km down the road things started to get sticky. the heavy rains had caused some flooding, and our progress slowed considerably. then we stopped. i was sitting in the back of the Alhum, counting the unbelievable number of passengers who had piled in (38) so didnt see what was going on in front of the vehicle. I got out to look, and take some pictures.
the once calm road had a river flowing through it. the river had a very large truck stuck in the middle, with about fifteen senegalese men trying to push it out of the way. the choices were
1. sit in the Alhum for an unknown amount of time..perhaps until the water receeded..unlikely, or
2. put our packs on, and start wading through the river. we took option 2, much to the dismay of the 37 others in the van. they watched us roll up our pant legs and tighten the straps on our shoes and packs..and off we went. turned out the river was waist deep in some locations..little deeper when i stepped into a pot hole on the road below, so it didnt much matter that id rolled up my jeans. The other passengers had mentioned that the town we were heading to was 5 km away..not an unreasonable distance..had that been the reality. however, after wading through the water and reaching the other side, i was informed otherwise. Nothing to do but start walking. thankfully, ten minutes down the road a van came speeding our way. it stopped and picked us up. It was a van that had been delivering bread to the local villages so we sat in the very back on the floor with our packs and tried to avoid crushing the hundreds of loaves of bread we were sitting with. Did i mention that it was still raining? it was.
the bread truck delivered us to a bus, which was just leaving for Koalack..the second leg of the journey. The timing was perfect, and so we loaded up.
the bus ride was only three hours. piece of cake.
the garage in Koalack was a nightmare. trash everywhere, people screaming for your attention, trying to get you to jump into their cars or Alhums. The tallest man ive ever seen started to lead us across town to his Alhum which he promised was leaving right away for Tamba. We followed. Once in the Alhum We were hesitant to pay right away seeing no one else in sight. However, being assured that the other clients were on their way, and we'd be leaving shortly..we agreed to the price and started the wait. That wait turned out to be three and a half hours. finally around 8 PM the vehicle started rolling. We only had to go 273 km, how back could it be?
bad.
It took 7 hours to make our way south. the roads were terrible, it was raining, and the drivers high beams worked only occassionally.
3 AM arrival time in Tamba, took a taxi to the regional house..and passed out.
and tomorrow, I head to Kolda.
wish me luck,
I have a feeling i'll need it!
~jenny
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