Day 48 (22 November) – Zebrabar, Saint-Louis
Zebrabar is an oasis! A huge shaded, sandy compound with a small beach, cold beers, warm showers (and great dinners). We spoke with the owners, Martin and Ursula, about the 24 hour- Dakar issue*. They said indeed that it was a new ‘rule’ which was giving lots of trouble. Martin knows the Colonel of the North and would be willing to make a call. They were expecting a rally to come through this afternoon, for which he arranged an extension, and may be able to slide our papers in along with theirs. We discern that the rally coming is the Belgian motorcycle rally we met in Nouadhibou. We have enjoyed having the place largely to ourselves but it is such a large space the 30 or so of them won’t even make it seem crowded.
The rally begin to arrive in the late afternoon and throughout when we are having dinner. By the time we get back to the tent they have set up camp. Their supply truck is set up in front of our tent with the generator about where my head goes and all their sleeping tents are wedged between our tent and Niels’ car. It is MIND BOGGELING. Zebrabar has ACRES and when the Belgian rally arrived we were the ONLY people camping. We mention this to them and they seem completely baffled. That night we are treated to 30 or so middle-aged men getting drunk, re-enacting their adolescence to crap rock music. The next morning we let Senna really go for it…
*Since last June (2010) Senegal has a new law (for reasons unknown to us) that states anyone bringing a car into Senegal that is 5 years or older has to register in Dakar at the Customs office in the port within 24 hours.
Day 49 (23 November) – Zebrabar, Saint-Louis
Today it is Tuesday and Niels went along with Martin and representatives of the bikers to the Colonel, who owned a stamp for extending your registering time. Unfortunately he could only make extensions and you still need to go to Dakar.
We arrived at the office right at 9h in the morning but we got the news that the Colonel came home late last night and he was still sleeping… An hour later the man arrived at his work and by 11am all was finished and we had another 5 days extension. Perfect! The Colonel was a very reasonable man and knows that this rule is not working out for anybody and will change in the near future. But it is the law and that he could not change with his stamp.
There is no way around going to Dakar but at least we can spend some days getting there. Saint Louis is a great town – has a Mombasa feel. We wander around the streets – find a fabric shop where they also weave the designs. The proprietress explains some of the colors and pieces (some colors are traditionally only for men, women wear the ‘skirts’ which are like enormous tablecloths that they wrap around and wear under their Boubous. As they walk they lift up their boubou to show off the patterns underneath. The patterns and colors most often have protective qualities – to protect from jealousy, evil eye, etc, etc). The colors are mostly rich browns, purples, greens with yellow, gold and silver interwoven. The traditional loom produces 20cm strips of fabric which then are stitched together to make the larger pieces.
We also stop at a local music shop. The clerk/dj is more than happy to let us listen to everything! It is great; he tells us about the local music and also has mixed cds. We make off with a stash and he also tells us there is a music festival going on over the next couple of days. We get a preview over lunch at Chez Agnes. A great bar/restaurant in a lunch courtyard where we are served plates of spiced rice, fish and grilled vegetables. The table next to us is in town for the music festival and are entertaining each other (and us) passing around the guitar and singing while they (and we!) eat lunch.
We spend one more night at Zebrabar – when 70 Dutch in another Rally arrive. They arrive late and are mouse quiet – and we’re not just saying that because they are Dutch! They are on the last night of their rally and are up early to carry on to Lac Rose for the finish.
We reluctantly leave the next morning as well. We could have spent days at Zebrabar and in Saint Louis – but we do need to be in Accra by 18 December and there is plenty between Saint Louis and Accra.
Day 50 (24 November) – Road to Lac Rose
Lac Rose – The Dutch rally is at Salim’s – probably the nicer option in town and we opt for next door which is listed in the Lonely Planet. Camping is not possible (although you can sleep in the car so Niels is set). The place seems eerily run down but not dilapidated – sort of a strange transition state that it used to be nice, is still ok but is on its way down. They show us to a well kept room/cabin which we will take for the night. An hour or so later we go looking for the reception as the electricity is off. It turns out everyone is gone there is no one at the place but us and one guard – literally NO ONE.
Day 51 (25 November) – Mbour, via Dakar
We are up early and drive the 30 or so km to Dakar to go to customs. We seem to have a knack for arriving in the big cities at rush hour. It is good to know that our time spent in Nairobi wasn’t for nothing!!
Dakar – Customs at the port is straightforward. Not a shakedown just shuttling between offices for signatures and stamps. It takes about 2 hours and we are out of there with our Carnet stamped. We stop at the supermarket and a lunch of chawarmas (so good that we take some to go!). Dakar is a busy city but has a nice vibe, we take a driving tour along the cornice and through town before driving south to Mbour.
In Senegal the women wear brightly colored dresses – in the village, by the side of the road, going to fetch water – they are dressed in bright cotton or satin with prints and embroidery. People are always dressed their best. Melons are sold at roadside stalls (thankfully), it is HOT, and baobabs line the roads everywhere. It doesn’t look poor. Maybe it has a precarious existence with many people depending on a reliable dry/wet season cycles but people are well dressed and there is abundance of food, livestock and fish in most places we pass.
Mbour- is a lovely chilled beach town. We arrive late afternoon just in time to take a dip in the ocean and have a cold beer. The weather is warm and humid as it has been for the past days since we’ve been in Senegal. The mornings are pleasant but by 11am it is hot, by 2pm it is scorching and by 4 you are defeated. The only consolation is you know the sun will start going down around 5 and then again the weather becomes bearable.