Whilst in st louis we had been invited to ...
Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
158Trip End Aug 08, 2005
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After leaving St Louis early on the 16th we had a wonderful drive to Dakar through many interesting villages
After leaving Dakar and its chaotic traffic, which we had been stuck in for over an hour, we headed east and soon found more colourful and interesting villages, curious but friendly locals, and some wonderful changes in landscape. From a luscious mixture of farmland and jungle, the landscape gently turned to Sahel, dry and dusty with dead looking trees and bushes waiting for the next rainfall. Our "bush-camp" that night brought us our first taste of the local wildlife. The ground was alive with eyes!! (actually reflective spiders), but we also saw scorpions, preying mantis, other unidentifiable insects and bats and also heard jackals in the bushes, not far from our tents. The wildlife spotting continued on the way to Senegal's national park. There were wild boar, baboons, vultures and lots of colourful birds. We camped in a small village where the local baker made us bread, Kev helped the locals pump water from the well while Sian befriended five of the local kids, who all just want to touch you, hold your hand or smile and wave. In the national park the next day (23rd), the truck was really put through its paces, this was untouched forest, real Tarzan land (Kev's words!). The park road was really rough, littered with massive termite mounds and for those of us that were in the back, it was difficult to avoid the branches, leaves, bushes and insects that hammered in through the windows
The next day we travelled to Saraya, the last big town in Senegal and we bush-camped again that night way out in the wilderness high on the side of a hill, giving a great sunrise the next morning. We officially left Senegal on the 25th January, the border was marked by a tree trunk straddled across the road with "Police, Halte" painted on it. After spending a few hours with the border guard in a tiny mud hut in the village, with a live chicken tied up and protesting in the corner, we waded across the river at the edge of the village as the road just ended and there was no bridge
The roads from here on were pretty rough and really sandy, we drove through villages that hadn't seen many visitors for a while and all the local kids enthusiastically waved and smiled and ran along after the truck. We have christened them the "Cadeau Cavalry" as sometimes they shout in French for "un Cadeau" but they don't know always seem to know what it means and are still happy when they don't get anything. Our first night in Mali, Sophie managed to navigate us across the border without registering our entry, but as we drove into the first town, Kenieba, we were met by hundreds of locals, all out celebrating Mali-day. It was amazing, they swarmed around the truck and suddenly we felt like the main attraction. They were all really friendly and all night as we wandered round the village, the people just wanted to greet us. There was no electricity and it was our second night without running water and all the dust and dirt just clung to us in the heat. Two American Peace Corps workers, Andy and Deedee who were stationed nearby, were our guides for the night, and we were introduced to Mali customs including eating rice with peanut sauce with the locals, eating with our right hands only from a communal bowl. Later there was a show involving singing, dancing, drums and 'comedy'?
The landscape changed so much within a few miles, from dry Sahel, often charred and blackened by forest fire but with new yellow flowers, bare trees with bright orange/red flowers and bushes of bright pink flowers, to luscious jungle (where there is water)
We have visited embassies, obtained most of our visas for the route ahead, including Nigeria, had a few heated group discussions and met up with some other travellers that we have met along the way. Truck life had degenerated into petty arguments and back-biting but a couple of heated discussions have cleared the air a bit but at times it is like being on a school trip, which is a bit disappointing as we expected more. Sian visited the hospital again and received another Malaria test, which proved to be clear and now seems to be on the mend. Alex has left the group to visit his Aunt in Burkina Faso and the truck has been repaired from the damage caused by the last week of rough riding.
The mosquitos are out with a vengeance, cold showers have been rare but very welcome and the heat has been cranked up a fair bit. This morning we had a display of hundreds of bats flying around the city, it was quite spooky! We are planning the route ahead to Timbuktu and should leave in the next few days.
Anyway that's about everything, we hope all is well with everyone.
Bye for now,
Kev and Sian.