We spent all night on a road to Dakar. Suleiman was in a hurry to finish his deals as soon as possible and sell minivan and for me it was just at hand. I did not feel myself free without the motorcycle, always dependent on someone else will, always have to look for transport, to negotiate … We went to the night occasionally slowing down to sudden speed bumps. Suleiman told me that local police don’t have any radars, so the only way to get the locals to slow down is to place such constraints.
Somewhere at four in the morning we arrived in a suburb of Dakar where Suleiman had friends. Of course at such a late time they slept. The house was fenced with tall fence with huge gates, door bell was missing. Attempts to call on a cellphone failed too. We parked the van near the fence, Suleiman climbed on it and moved over the fence. I lit a Marlboro Red for which I went to Africa (because often there is no other choice in local shops) and felt myself like an accomplice guard and smiled. All that looks weird. However, ten minutes later we were allowed into the yard, accepted, and we were given a place to sleep. Still amazing how sometimes people are so kind.
Next morning after the primitive shower in the style of “water yourself from a watering can” and breakfast we talked to a large family of friends Suleiman and moved towards Dakar. A few hours of sleep was not enough for me. Among the luggage there was a sofa aslo helping in fix the motorcycle from the movements in the trunk. I moved back and sprawled on it, instantly asleep. Some time later, I was awakened by the fact that the whole bus went to shake and the bike was hanging menacingly over me. I got up and got off the couch. Before the wheels of the Mercedes lay something that can hardly be called a road. According to my estimates the road to Dakar should have been better. Suleiman told me that it is but this time we’re going to bypass the main road, because of the police which could ask for bribes and it would be good to avoid it. The road was getting worse. I went back to the motorcycle and literally fell on it, trying to keep it in one place. Motorcycle tottered with me leaving a scratches on my hands. I noticed left turn signal destroyed. That’s sad. Sooner or later the road again became smooth asphalt, and we butted into the traffic jam. I began my acquaintance with Dakar.
An hour later we arrived at the local workshop. If you can call it. Waterlogged former market which extends from the side with a sandlot with a football field and a square for repair works. Several dozen disassembled cars on a different stages of repair works and local mechanics scurrying around. The hot sun and the smell of fumes. There Suleiman planned to do some servicing before selling his minivan and look on the side for an opportunity to find a tire for me. He made a few phone calls and some time later two men arrived to our van with a pair of tires with them. One of tires had wrong dimensions, but the other one was just right. Pirelli Scorpion. Used by 50 percent and in the cracks. Old. 60 euros including installation. Better than nothing, I told myself as I was almost obsessed with the idea of free movement. We shook hands, pulled the bike out of the minivan, pumped the wheel as much as possible, and then drove to the nearest tire workshop. While master surprisingly deftly and quickly changed the tire I had a little chat with one of the guys who brought the wheel. He spoke a little in English and asked me about Russia. For me it was a shock to learn that Senegal have strong stereotype: “in Russia there is racism around, and if you come to, then someone definitely will attack and kill you.” What a shit. However, from our side about Africa there is also still a considerable amount of stupid stereotypes.
Soon the rear wheel of my bike regained normal tire. Here it is, freedom. I felt winged. Once again I can move on my own! I can go anywhere! I drove back to the minivan and began to pack things hurry because Suleiman wanted to reach Bissau on the same day. Half an hour later the bike regained touristic look and I dressed in the riding outfit. It is time to say goodbye to Suleiman. I asked him about the last photo, but he agreed only in exchange that I will leave it to me and I will not upload it to the Internet. Well, it was his desire that I respect. We cordially said goodbye and I went to the Annex Kings Plaza, the hostel where Yuri stopped. Mark also was there but only for one night, because he found a French family with “warmshower” (analogue of couchsurfing for cyclists) and moved to them.
Hostel itself is located on one of the streets parallel to the main avenue, so it was not easy to find it. Outwardly, it’s made a good impression – fresh building, cozy balcony, a colorful sign. I parked the bike and walk on reception. I ask them if there any other russian guy living in there and they called Yuri. We met like old friends. I dragged my luggage into six-people dorm. The guests were just the two of us. At first glance, the place was not bad but it was only at first glance. Later two Japanese arrived to the same room. The spend all the time inside, not talking, stuck in internet. Strange guys.
The morning of the next day has come. I only had one day to extend pasavant for my motorcycle, otherwise I have to register in the new one and not the fact that it was possible to be. Separately taken bureaucratic hell, in a country where nobody speaks English, almost no one. Three different main offices of customs, equidistant from each other about a kilometer. And I, hanging around with my riding equipment in the midday heat, because it’s difficult to find a space for the parking in the center of the city. A couple of times my head “floated”, so vast was the overheating of the body. Finally I got extended pasavant (which is amazing – free) and rushed to the motorcycle. Next to it curled some local parasite publicly stating that parking here is prohibited and I have to pay him a fine. Naturally, no badges and documents that it is at least some representative of the controlling staff. I exploded. I was so irritated by persistent beggars and brazen attempts to rip me off throughout my stay in this country that could not stand it anymore. With pious Russian obscenities at the best terms, throwing out a hand as Lenin, I labored lecture about freeloaders, job search and work for the good of the country, at the same time indicating the direction in which he must go to find easy money.
And I went back to the hostel. The body carrying me with last bits of forces surrendered. I was felled by fever. Dorm that seemed good at first turned into hell. Dark room in the hostel, without ventilation, going wild humidity (things laundered by me could not dry for three days) has become my prison for a few days. I needed a rest, but it’s hard to imagine the worst place for this. Malaria, as I now remember, bevel all three of us (me, Mark and Yuri) almost simultaneously. These were some of the darkest days of my trip. Despite the fact that we all have it passed relatively easily and quickly – oppressive atmosphere of the room did its job. Somewhere here Yuri gave up. He bought a ticket to home.
Fortunately for me I was lucky to find a Russian family on a CouchSurfing so I moved as soon as possible. Great guys, wife who works as a photographer, and husband who builds a fish factory. And the two nicest children. Life again gained its colors. I lie for a few days, recovering and restoring my forces. Got a message from Mark. He will be in two days at the border of Senegal and Mali and offered me to cross the border together. It was two days for me to reach Kidira, border town so I have supported the idea and began to pack the stuff. It’s time to leave Dakar.
This town did not forget to present me a last gift – the main highway was blocked by government for repair works, resulting in pushing and shoving in a traffic jam on the side streets. Several times I could hardly keep the bike – wildest humidity combined with the heat fused brains so that the vestibular system has lost a sense of balance. Finally, I jumped back on the highway and drove a few kilometers in a stand, allowing the wind to penetrate all the vents of equipment, returning body temperature to normal state. I could breathe again. Green landscapes run around gladdening the eye at every turn.
Once good, road start to deteriorating showing sudden pits and potholes more often. Omnipresent red dust covered me and the bike.
At some point, the road suddenly turned into tarmack, more like a motocross track strewn with holes the size of half of motorcycle. One of the potholes cunningly trapped under my wheels,\ and I hit it hard. Side cases emergency system was triggered. It is designed for operation in case of falling to reduce the damage and the bike and sidecases. But flight to this hole was so rapid that the bike and me went on and the left case has ejected jumping on a ground couple of times. I stopped swearing, picked sidecase, slightly improve the situation with improvised means, and moved on significantly reducing the speed (which, incidentally, is not much help). The beauty around slightly offset the inconvenience
On my way to Kidira I spent a night near Tambacounda and the next day met Mark at about 30 kilometers to the border town. Once again, we were glad the meeting and hugged, excitedly talking about our latest adventures. We agreed that I will wait Mark somewhere in the city where we going to restock provisions, buy the beer and roll back a bit to find a spot for camping. It was a good idea – it is much better to storm the border in the morning. By late in the evening we found an abandoned building, where we comfortably set up and stretched mosquito net. We uncorked a beer and sat on the edge of the floor. It seems that we have found a roof over our head exactly in time – lightnings glittering on the horizon overtook the surroundings and brought the rain. Under the incessant flashes of lightning and the rain we talked about the adventures and enjoyed a beer. I asked myself the question often haunting me – a few months ago, when I started my journey on with a first kilometer in Moscow, accompanied by friends, could I assume that everything will be like that? Of course no. This added some atmosphere to the moment. On the ministove in a pot we boiled the pasta with sausages. Two travelers hidden in the middle of nowhere in the abandoned building talked about everything under the sound of rain and rumbling thunder. After eating and drinking we went sleep peacefully, and only random visit of a donkey disturbed is in that night.
In the morning, remembering the border crossing from Mauritania to Senegal we were ready for anything. Including spend as much time as it needs. We drove into the city, found the customs office to stamp the passport. Then we drove to the checkpoint. Some customs officer said that we need to pass the inspection, showing to the site of the mud, rain blurred. “Oh come on, officer” said Mark, “do you really want to climb down to that shithole?”. Officer waved his hand. We left Senegal. The rate of passage of border gave us confidence. We crossed the river Fale and saw a sign “Frontiere Senegal – Mali”.