We have many things we need to do in Dakar, but being the weekend offices aren’t open and so we have to wait until Monday. We made a start by phoning a mechanic. Didier, the Frenchman we met at Auberge Triskell, had recommended a good Land Rover mechanic and we need to arrange oil changes for the both vehicles. Poki also requires some new bearings.
Dennis mentioned Senegal seemed gentler and more ‘civilised’ than Mauritania. That may have been a first impression, but I’m not sure it’s one I still support. The only improvements seem to be the cars are more modern, not ramshackle. The driving is calmer, but that’s because the traffic is so heavy you can’t do anything more than stay in the queue. Ladies are not veiled and seem less downtrodden, but litter is still everywhere.
At first the police were friendly and just waived us through any check points. However, the police here in Dakar are a different story. Our main task for the day was to find the Auchan Hypermarket (a large French supermarket). Battling through the traffic we came across a Decathlon store (another French brand selling sports clothing etc). We stopped and Dennis bought some more crocs, to replace the ones he lost and a lightweight jacket.
On leaving the store we had progressed a few yards into the barely moving traffic when we were confronted by a whistle blowing policeman. Dennis had not yet put his seat belt back on. The cop demanded to see Dennis’s driving licence and told him he was getting a fine for not having his belt on. Putting Dennis’s licence in his pocket, he then confronted Adam. He hadn’t put his belt back on either.
Harsh words were exchanged with Dennis demanding his licence back. Adam stepped in to calm things down. The fine being asked for the offence was 165,000 Central African Francs (about 250 Euros or 420 NZ $) each, payable at the police station, where licences would be returned after payment. A ticket was written out but Adam asked how much if they paid the cop cash. 15,000 CAF each. This was duly paid (about 22 Euros or 36 NZ $) and the matter resolved.
Chastened we set off again. Shortly afterwards at a roundabout jammed with stationary traffic, Dennis was taking a photo. Another whistling cop. Another offence. Using a camera while driving. Dennis told him not to be ridiculous. The traffic was going nowhere. No one was moving. Then the traffic started to move and so did we, with the whistling cop chasing us down the road. We managed a successful escape.
Being tourists we are fair game for the slightest excuse to stop us and extract a fine. We eventually reached Auchan. Much more expensive than in France, but then everything is imported, with the associated costs. Our main aim was to stock up with diary products. Butter, milk and lots of cheeses.
We had checked out of the campsite in the morning. Angela had mentioned another campsite at the Yacht Club. We thought we would go and see if was an improvement on where we were last night. We were almost there when we came up against a military barrier. The address we had must have been incorrect. The unfriendly guard, with a rifle strapped across his chest, insisted we reverse out. There was a place to turn around, which eventually he let us use.
Giving up we returned to last night’s campsite. By this time it was after 4.30. Basically a whole day just to go to the supermarket! A shower, even though it was almost cold, was most welcome. Followed by a cold beer in the confines of Poki’s calm interior. A bit of peace in a frenetic city.
Gosh the corruption must be frustrating.
In all fairness I think the locals get it as well.
In Ghana the drivers of the mini vans would hand over a folded up money note with their license to the police. I often wondered how they make any money by the time they pay these bribes.
We in Guinea-Bissau and the demands have not decreased…:)
Hope you guys safe in the South.