Peugot Protocol

Trip Start Mar 05, 2006
Trip End Mar 12, 2006

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, March 11, 2006

When taking Peugot's, there is a format always followed. First, you wait for the taxi to fill, which we have been fortunate to do very little of. Second, everyone pays. The manager, sometimes the driver, often not, always an old shrunken man, now runs off to find change. All this time, sellers are banging on the windows, sticking their hands and arms in offering tissues, mints, bananas, drinks, nuts, peeled oranges, anything you might buy. Children are also banging on the window begging for money. There were more beggars in Touba probably because it's a religious city and because the Magal is coming up and charity is one of the pillars. None of these people speak French other than numbers, only Wolof. We do not give money to the children. This is not because we are callous, but because we do not want to teach them to beg. Then, they will skip school to beg and cheat their future.

The manager finally returns with change, the driver (generally a guy in his late teens) shows up, the trunk is closed (you breath a sigh of relief that you no longer have to keep an eagle's eye on your bags with all the touts swarming around) and you wind your way through the garage (gare) and onto the street. The first stop is the petrol station. Now that your fare has been paid, gas can be purchased. Our drivers have put in anywhere from 3 to 12 L, a litre costing slightly more than 500 CFA. Next, any last minute repairs are made, slow leak tires are filled with air, engine oil is purchased, water is collected to cool the engine later. Then, half an hour to forty-five minutes after you arrived at the gare, you are finally on your way.

The ride to Thies was long and hot. Two hours only, but on top of the two hours earlier in the day and in the heat of the day. Peugot taxis are great and all, but they are not the epitome of comfort. We arrived in Thies at quarter to three and hailed a cab for the Hotel du Rail aka a wild goose chase. The hotel no longer exists, nor is there any sign of it having existed recently. So...we tried the Hotel Man Gan. The room they showed us was a dump, consistent with our first impressions of Senegal's second largest city. We left and headed for the only other place in town, The Rex, stopping along the way for a Planet Cola, my new favorite Senegalese drink. The man at the Rex told us quite rudely that he had no rooms and quickly shooed us out the door. We stopped to reconnoiter and have more swallows of Planet Cola on the street and he came to shoo us away there, too. So, we headed back to the Man Gan, asked for a room with a working shower and got settled.

Dinner tonight was at the local internet cafe. We were the only ones there. The food was great with nice music and the TV showing American sit-coms in French until we asked them to turn it off. Light-up neon snowflakes adorned the walls, the only source of light in the place, flashing and doing light shows all night. The rest of Senegal is so blah, this was sensory overload, but unique.

Heading back to the hotel, we passed the place to be on Saturday night. Western club beats and melodies overlaid with French or Wolof rap. Looked like a good time, but Donna's a bit old for party crashing and we were tired.

Next --> Back to Dakar and the conclusion of travels
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Where I stayed
Hotel du Rail
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