Day 19: The President is Coming

Two hours ago I was feeling a bit low, it was a horrible day on the bike and i was starting to think i may have to go off road a bit to find somewhere to camp. I am now sat on a game reserve park bench eating pasta, drinking coffee and listening to Lions roar while monkeys run around. Its funny how quickly things can change.


I left Dakar thinking the roads would be quiet as it’s Sunday. .. boy was I wrong. It was bedlam with every major junction controlled by a policeman with a whistle. I think there were a lot of flies around based on their hand movements. If there is a highway code in Senegal (that is a hilarious thought) then the chapter on police hand signals must be long and complicated.
The buses were the highlight here, about 1 in 5 had large tannoy speakers on front and back blasting out music? The question mark is because it could equally well have been prayer chanting. On a wooden plank on the rear outside is where the conductor hangs on for grim death to the roof ladder. Two bangs on the side of the bus tells the driver to move off.
Things calmed down as i got further from town, then i noticed the pot holes were getting bigger. Now let’s define a pot hole shall we, in the uk it is a missing chunk of tarmac and a big one may be a couple of feet across. Well that’s the same here except they have mates that like to hang around together. Then those groups merge onto others across the whole width of the road, before you know it you have been 3-4 kilometres without seeing any tarmac at all.
Ok pause here, remember i said i am on a bench in a game reserve? Well it is now dark and something big is moving in the trees behind me.
That’s better, I have cleared up and in the SAFETY!! of my tent!!
Back to the story. .
As I approached a town I noticed crowds of people lining the road ahead. Has word got out I am coming? I went through with the crowd cheering and shouting. I stopped and looked back and they seemed to have lost interest in me. I asked a friendly policeman what’s happening, he said the president of Senegal is coming. What a great photo opportunity so I parked up.
Everyone wanted to be photographed. ..

Except the stern policeman striding toward me saying “non photos in Senegal “. After checking my ID and phoning his boss about “Le Blanc” he told me passez passez and pointed me back to my bike.; I passezed vite.

In the next town the same reception awaited so I was not going to stop this time. Until the police car chasing up behind me with sirens and the policeman who jumped out in front made it necessary to stop.
I was told to turn around and follow the car. He led me to the edge of town and left up a dirt track, there we stopped I have seen those movies so knew what to expect, instead he pointed to a bus 300m away across sandy waste ground and indicated I should go the same way, around the town not through it. He did ask for a cadeaux at this stage but I politely refused.

(Noisy toads are croaking outside)

The rest of the drive was just as bad as the first part with hot dusty and windy conditions while hunting for unbroken tarmac and it was getting late. …

(that was a lion roar i am sure)

I started to look for somewhere to camp, i was starting to think i would have to go off road when i saw a sign 3km to game reserve. . I wonder. ..

So here I am in a tent on a game reserve, the friendly ranger phoned his boss to get permission.
Tomorrow I am taking a walk with lions!

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