The day has dawned cloudy…mmmm…..and it’s looking, dare I say, like rain could be imminent.
However, checking in at www.Accuweather.com, the forecast is for a nice day, cloudy but only 29deg. Whew!
Because if it were to rain, the chances of getting to the Diama border would be zero, due to mud.
So, after a great night’s sleep we are waiting outside the Senegalese Embassy for 10am to come around and perhaps, my visa will be ready, along with the passport, to pick up?
Jen poured scorn on me yesterday for cleaning Poki. She looks beautiful again, Poki that is. (cause Jen already is, the Moroccan guard said so…:). Shiny and well…nearly new…:). That will last for about 3 hours till we hit the dirt again. Never mind.
The modification I worked on yesterday was making a bracket out of a piece of ‘L’ shaped aluminium bar to hold our brilliant ‘charging hub’ to the center console. The bracket now pop riveted to the consul. The hub has 4 USB ports, and 3 cigarette lighter type sockets. So we have four USB leads of different fittings for phone, GoPro, Sat-Nav and iPod. Only 1 cigarette lighter socket is being used to connect the Air Conditioning unit and the Bose speaker, both in the rear of the cabin, via a dual USB adaptor. The good thing about the hub also, is that the sockets are switchable and the whole unit is connected to power by a single plug to the vehicle cigarette lighter socket. Are you still with me…?..:)
Adam is happily ensconced in the camp at Zebrabar in Senegal waiting impatiently for us to arrive.
I’ll be able to report later on, if we make it today.
We arrived at Zebrabar in the dark at around 8.30pm.
Back to the Senegal Embassy.
Back to picking up my visa. It finally arrived at just after 11am. Meanwhile, to speed the time I started reading my Christmas present from Jen, ‘The Last Overland’ by Alex Bescoby.
I won’t bore you with too much detail but it’s a story about the return journey of a 1955 Land Rover, Oxford, that claimed to be the First to Drive from the UK to Singapore entirely overland with it’s sister vehicle, Cambridge. Using the WW2 Stillwell built, Burma Road. The road ceased to be driveable due to erosion and political reasons, soon after their passing.
The journey back through the city was about as exciting as you can get, behind a steering wheel. There are no rules, survival of the fittest and most determined. Cars driving the wrong way down one way streets, round-abouts are a free for all. Trucks creep along the road belching black smoke, with tyres and mechanicals that are long past their use by date. Despite the dilapidated stae of the cars and roads, there are very few accidents.
Once out of the city influence we skim along making good time.
Perhaps 12 different checkpoints came and went after the request for “Fische”, was satisfied. That is until we arrived at the control point 2k’s before the road turns off for the Diama border. A young policeman pulled us over and started requesting Covid passes etc. Told us we could not drive directly to the Diama Border because we did not have the correct Authority form. Mmmm B.S. but…. He was soon on the phone to “his boss” who could speak English and said he would provide us with the Authority form, but we would have to drive the 54k’s to the Rosso border and he would meet us there.
A Peugeot station wagon beckoned us to stop 20ks from Rosso and the driver introduced himself. Said that as I had been deported from Senegal we would need The Authority and his boss at the border would provide it, free of charge.
I mentioned the other day that we had missed the turning back to Nouakchott in the dark and ended up at Rosso. It’s a triangle Nouakchott-Rosso-Diama, but the road from Diama to Rosso, along the border, is dirt and over 100ks long where as the road we wanted, only about 70ks and 50k’s closer to Nouakchott.
Once at the border, a guy approached us, telling we we would need to buy Senegal insurance before we could cross over. Took us to a dilapidated shed that is also a shop and wanted us to change Mauritanian Ougya’s for CAF (Central African Franks). The numbers are mind numbing and when converted to Euro it was clear we were being scammed. I said to this “geeza” “who is your boss? What government department do you work for”. There have been countless stories on Facebook about the rorts going on at this border, hence our desire to use Diama.
After drawing Jen away, and to his continued threats, we ended up with a couple of pieces of paper that purport to be insurance certificates for much of Africa. We paid 2200 Ougya’s about €55 and saved ourselves the €550 he was demanding. Once he had been exposed as a huckster, he left us alone and we drove to the Diama border without the required “Authorisation”.
Clearly there is a scam going on and it involves someone, I suspect the security guard who allows entry to the embassy in Nouachott, the young policeman at the road check, who was waiting for us and this huckster friend at the border. On reflection, we should have taken the policeman’s photo. This usually changes their behaviour.
The drive back along the Rosso – Diama track was interesting. We are driving through wetlands (National Park) that are being dewatered by huge pumps. The wetlands are being burned off for cattle grazing and crops. Coupled with this, we are being asked to pay 100 Ougya’s to drive through the park. I drove straight through the Park entry gate without stopping, despite the calls to do so from the lazy officials who were in their hut until too late to stop us.
Immediately, this is a different country to the last. There seems to be some civil order. Cars are with lights, though many of them don’t use them, and some respect for the law. There is no civil order in Mauritania.
Driving in the dark, which we have vowed not to do, was extremely difficult. Give me the mayhem of Nouakchott. There are hundreds of people walking along the roadside. You might say, hard to see in the dark. Some cars choose not to use their headlights and there are horse drawn carts full of anything you can imagine, with no lights or reflectors. Massive humps in the road are further dangers.
Thankfully Google Maps got us to Zebrabar. It’s a quiet haven by the sea, owned and run by a Swiss couple. There is a hot meal for us on arrival at Adam’s arranging. He is ecstatic to see us, and we him. I suspect he was wondering about our resolve?