Ziguinchor via Dakar...The Gambia & S.
|We left the Espace Sobo Bade-our O.N. in Toubab Dialao-at 6am in a taxi to Dakar to make connections to travel S. in a shared taxi-7 people-which left the taxi station at 8 am after a major discussion over price!
Dakar is the capital as well as a major transport center...the French owner & her assistant had told us the night before that it would be critical to leave at 6 to avoid the traffic jam...! WOW what an understatement, even leaving at 8 from the taxi station-really just a maze of taxis jammed into this huge dirt lot next to the under- construction-major-avenue just before the "under construction" ramp onto the under construction highway out of town!!! The drive S was ok, road was smooth looked like newly set down asphalt surface, until about 10:30 when we stopped at another taxi stop which also had a "repair shop"-I put these things into quotes because they indicate that the quoted item is not as you would imagine anywhere else, you'd have to see it to really believe it! Anyway, the driver and a repair guy went to work on the gear shift and in about a half hour he had four gears again-he'd been driving until then with just 3rd & 4th...when we hit the "road" I discovered why...our smooth road became pot holed and he spent a lot of time avoiding the holes, largely driving on the dirt along the side of the "paved" part.
This part is called the "Trans-Gambia highway" and took us to The Gambia border...from the crossing into The Gambia the road was no longer paved and we slowed even more but it was dry & now mid day so very very hot especially since we were 7 crowded together-actually one fellow had a seat up front to himself next to the driver. The driver needed the 1st & 2nd gears alot needless to say, but he was frustrated since at every police stop show our passports and 4 times crossing each border twice the 4 of us had to get out, get our passports stamped, and then crowd back into the taxi!!! The ferry crossing into The Gambia was interesting in that being the first car there was only one spot to park to maximize the load-most vehicles crossing were semi tractor trailors-thus as it turned out he was also the last off!!
However, back into Senegal the road was again smooth and we arrived in Ziguinchor about 6pm, hot,sweaty, and I in a foul mood and a headache besides,ha! We were immmediately accosted by fellows trying to "help & guide" us which didn't improve my disposition...Bon luckily had her compass since the map in the LP was oriented NS and I was completely disoriented; The first hotel we went to was too costly for the accomodations but after another walk and the help of a fellow we arrived at our second choice, Auberge Casafrique, cheapest yet and very nice:clean!
It is amazing what a shower-even cold-and some food, good pizza and omlette, can do for the disposition!
Our trip S took us from agricultural to humid, treed, and somewhat more "wild" countryside, but still very flat. Villages in the countryside are more the grass hut type in enclosures of bamboo/reeds. Saw lots of roadside stands selling watermelon, peanuts(harvesting now), baskets and crockery for sale. More cows down here since more grazing, not as many goats and sheep. Most of the countryside functions on donkey and or horse drawn two wheel carts. Garbage is everywhere, sometimes piled high outside villages, mostly just spread about...plastic bags and bottles a BIG problem. Even tho the Mafia runs our waste removal and landfills, at least we dont smell and see it everywhere, ha!
As we crossed the causeway into Ziguinchor we saw large areas of river&estuary recently planted in mangroves reforesting the marine estuary...a good sign for at least this area.
Next day we went to the Guinea Bissau consulate and fellow was very friendly...had a copy of Communist Manifesto on his desk quite worn, ha! No problem getting visa.
Up and to breakfast just down the street at Hotel Campement Relais Santiaba where John Lois a very smiley casamere good cook served up continental breakfast(bread,butter,marmelade,coffee or tea) and an omelette. Food here has been quite sketchy not much in selection and almost no greens...tough for the vegie lovers! Met Czech now Ausie(30 yrs) living in Franklin, Tasmania-Jan Zappner who told us many stories but also when he crossed the border the police official shook his hand and commented he had never met anyone born in 1939(or earlier)!!! Indicative of the short lifespans here!
Jan gave me a quote: Travelling is a foretaste of death! Ha! Great! Gotta say when we are in these taxis and minibuses with heat,humidiy,and close quarters he may not be far off!
Left at 10 am for taxi stand, got a minibus, waited til 11:15 before it was full enuf for the driver to leave(20 plus in van meant to carry 10 to 12)...plus two goats, a wheelbarrow and cement supplies(bucket,shovels,etc),a bicycle, and many other assorted bags and boxes on top! Headed for beach at Cap Skiring, a coastal resort town where we arrived at 2 pm! If we had our own vehicle the trip would have been at most one hour! The driver stopped half way and proceeded to load all passengers and stuff incl goats onto into another minibus and we continued after half hour to switch...so it goes!
Ride was on smooth, new road, thru area clear cut of huge fig trees(some few remain), and large expanses of estuary where mangroves used to be but are no longer, many places now just sand some planted in rice...soil gone, perhaps pesticides used on rice have damaged estuary permanently!:
We got to the beach, a bit cleaner than Toubab Dialao and up wind from fisherman's beach and landing! Found a nice hut and locals to get shade and ate our watermelon and went into the surf to body surf a bit! Left in time to return via taxi and nicer ride!