ABOUT THIS TRAVEL
20 days in SENEGAL-MALI, august 02
When: heart of the wet season in 2002
How I moved: mainly by collective taxi, bus, minibus and plane
Where I slept: in cheap hotels.
What I liked: the widening of my point of view that I got from this travel, the sunsets and the fried stuffs sold by locals in the street
What I dislike: the anger and the fakeness of people, the impossibility of trusting somebody, the hotness, the catastrophic status of the country, the unbelivable prices of the shitty accomodations, the beaches, Dakar, the gare routie' in Dakar (Pompie'), the taxi drivers, being called "tubab (white)"... did I mention about the people?
What you do need: an endless patience or maybe just more money than I had
JUNE 02: OK, summer is coming I wanna travel. This would be my first travel after one year spent in one of the wealthiest country in the world: Sweden. Now I wanna see the other side of the token: Africa. What about crossing Senegal, up to Mali, and trying to reach the Dogon tribes? OK I like, I'll do! But mainly I wanna meet people, speak with them, try to understand something of what it means living here: in short try to widen my point of view. There's only one way to get this: travelling with their public means of transport, trucks, carriages, a wheelbarrow, whatever I can find.
AUGUST 02: punctured by a bunch of needles for the vaccinations, bought my supercool mosquito-net and filled a jerry car of insect-repellent, I was ready to leave. I don't think I could be able to describe my impressions in the first hours of Africa: the colors, smells, sounds...... it has been too impressive, almost shocking. I had no doubt, the travel was worth even just for what I saw, smelled, heard moving by public bus from the airport to Dakar.
AUGUST 02: punctured by a bunch of needles for the vaccinations, bought my supercool mosquito-net and filled a jerry car of insect-repellent, I was ready to leave. I don't think I could be able to describe my impressions in the first hours of Africa: the colors, smells, sounds......it has been too impressive, almost shocking. I had no doubt, the travel was worth even just for what I saw, smelled, heard moving by public bus from the airport to Dakar.
In 20 days I left from Dakar to east crossing Senegal. I slept in Tambacounda and reached the Malian border at Diboli . Then I arrived in Kayes to get the train to the capital Bamako. My staying in Kayes (the hell), buying the ticket, getting that bloody train and travelling for 17 hours, definitely has been my hardest, strongest and most impressive travel experience. Then, from Bamako, I followed the Niger river up to Mopti. I walked three days in the Dogon area, sleeping underneath my mosquito-net on the muddy roofs. And then, the way back to Bamako dropping by Djennè. No way I would had passed through Kayes again, hence I got a flight from Bamako to Dakar. But my money were over, so I lazed on the coast, resting my bones.
At the end I was enthusiastic of the travel, of the experience; I felt I've really widen my point of view, that's the window through which I see the things around me. I've seen a tough reality, but that belongs to this world, and somehow is related to me.
But I cannot leave out to say that I've been disappointed by the people. Every time I trusted them, even in the small small things, where there was nothing to earn. I've felt racism to me, hostility, anger or simply a lack of hospitality. In 20 days I've not found a Malian or Senegalese helpfull and nice person, maybe I've just been unlucky....... This is not a revenge, I'm not encouraging you to skip this country, I never regretted this travel! On the opposite it has been great, but what I was looking for, I mean the contact with the people, is what I really missed despite my efforts.
PRESSED IN THE TAXI DE BROUSSE
In the way from Dakar to Tambacounda I decided to travel by taxi de brousse, I mean a pegeout 505 where 8 or, even, 9 people are " comfortably" sat in. Inside the car is just the frame, nothing softer than a steel bench to lean your butt. No more than two slim people can sit in each row, unbeliveble, but they manage to press 3 fat people. Of course there was no room for the legs, and I had to crouch till my jaw leant over my knees. What about the temperature? uhm....consider 8 sweating people in a small car without ventilation with an ambient temperature of about 40-45 degrees.....I would say pretty warm and stinking :-)) But the top of the top was when the woman in the front row began to eat some strange fruits, a kind of dirty apricots and thinking to throw the licked skin outside the window, was throwing them in the face of my girlfriend. After 8 hours travelling in such conditions we got in Tambacounda, it has been tough but funny!
AIR MALI ROCKS!
Leaving back from Bamako (Mali) to Dakar (Senegal) I decided to fly to skipp the endless, tiring, shocking travel by land I had in the opposite way. First of all which is the air company who runs this service? AIR MALI....uhm...should I trust? no choise I've to. One entire morning to buy the tickets and then ready for flying. The plane was an old airbus, not that bad, I've travelled on worse stuffs. After one hour during the descend to Dakar, suddenly, maybe for a loss of pression in the cabin, the oxigens masks fell down and it was panic! I wore my mask and started breathing into, but it didn't work, the shitty plastic ballon in front of it didn't inflate. Everybody seemed not really aware of it and went on breathing in it. The most thrown into confusion was the stuart who was frozen by the panic and was trying to breath into a passenger mask, instead of taking his oxigen cylinder and help children. After one minutes I realised it was possible breathing without mask and then.....I started getting pictures of the funny scene, don't miss them in the photos section. In ten minutes the plane landed at Dakar airport and the crew announced it had been an exercise!
FREAKING OUT IN MBOUR
I went to Pompiè (la gare routiè in Dakar) to find something to get in Joul-Fadiut. When my taxi entered the gare, as usual, lot of people start running back shouting.... I asked about a taxi de brousse to get in Joul and they said me that there were no taxi de brousse heading in such way and I had to take a minibus. A guy took me to it and said me it'd have been left shortly. Obviously I didn't trust him so I asked to the owner insisting about confirming the schedule. He confirmed me the minibus would have left immediately to Joul; I paid and I sat inside waiting. Ok I was happy, I was in the shittiest place in the world without having problems! I had been waiting refusing continuosly the stuffs people tried to sell me, one hour, two hours...and after more then two hours I was still in that stinking "steel box" waiting like a dumb and sweating like a fountain. I get angry to the owner but he didn't mind about my complainings. It was hot and stinking and I was feeling swindled. Besides while sitting I realised I paid more than the double of the normal fare. At the end the "steel box" left slowly and while exiting Pompie' I saw there was a taxi de brousse under the destination sign where it was written "Joul"....shit...a triple cheating!!!!!!!!! "Ok, but at least I'm on the way", I thought. After some hours driving, the "steel box" arrived in Mbour (30 Km from Joul) and they pushed my luggages down. It was the end of the minibus trip!...WHAT !?!?!? I paid the double to take a mean of transport worse than the taxi, waiting hours and arriving in the wrong place!?!? Many people were around us asking for some money for the other minibus to Joul. Me and my girlfriend were getting really nervous and started yelling. My girlfriend freaked out throwing her bag against a car and shouting as crazy. I was afraid the situation could turn in a riot, but a guy came (I think the owner of the first minibus) and gave us the money to prosecute our trip to Joul on the minibus that left immediately. At the end we arrived there but, my god, that effort!!!!
Mine has been
a low budget independent travel, without renting any kind of private mean
of transport, but just using the public ones and without any support of
tourist agencies. If you gonna do another kind of travel (medium/high
budget travel by agency) you could have wholly different experiences,
or my impression could sound strange to you
Besides I got
Lariam pills to prevent malaria. I didn't have any particular side effect
due to Lariam as it's said, left out some depression after the last pill
back from the travel...I didn't figure out if the depression was for Lariam
or for the end of the travel or just a psychological influence. Anyway
I didn't commit suicide ;-)
It's not a very cheap country!!
Never trust people about
People calling you TUBAB!!
Learn some wolof
Use local guides
If travelling with your
Avoid last seat row in
taxi de brousse
Definitely people don't
like to be photographed
Don't trust mail system!
Usually I try
to avoid the big cities but coming from the airport I didn't manage and
I had to stop in Dakar. Definitely I cannot be enthusiastic of a damned
humid, hot, polluted and crowded place. I cursed the night
I slept there for the black-out that, stopping my ventilator, made me
melting in the bed. In particular I recommend you to visit "place
d'Independence", you'll be charmed admiring the caos everywhere while
someone'll be stealing your wallet ;-)
-Don't be cheated by the taxi drivers! Don't pay more than 4000 CEFA (08/2002) from the airport to downtown!
-I suggest you to avoid walking during the night. Streets are unlit...definitely not the safest place I've been
-If you're going to get the train to Bamako you have to buy the tickets one day in advance.
-Watch out in Pompiè and don't be discouraged when you'll be there; it cannot be worse in Senegal
Joal Fadiout is
one of the tourist highlight in Senegal; despite the crowded buses of
the organised tour coming in the morning and staying one hour (as they're
having a trip at the zoo), I think it's worth visiting it. Fadiout
is a cute village, a kind of labyrinth built on an island by mud
and shells where local sell fresh fish. I particularly liked the long
wooden bridge that connects the island to the mainland where locals are
used to gather.
-It's not that easy to reach Joal-Fadiout from Dakar by minibus. Read what happened to me (freaking out in Mbour).
-Don't miss a trip by horse cart in the surroundings of Fadiout watching how hard is to cultivate such places.
-I slept in Relè 114 in Joal and I appreciated the kindness of the family who runs the place and invited me for lunch twice.
-Don't visited what is said to be the biggest baobab of Senegal few km far from Fadiout. It's not that special and it's crowded of bothering sellers who are waiting for you!!