Time for a brief update from Dakar…
Days since we left the UK- 60
Days when Mikaela has declared she wants to go home- 7 (becoming less common)
Soaps used- 8
Cheese triangles eaten- creeping up to a shameful 100
Offers to buy our bicycles- 35
Advice that we drive next time- 20+
Punctures- Mikaela 1 / Imran 0
Snakes spotted- 4
Living snakes spotted- 0 (thankfully)
Monkeys in road- 18
Our visas for Mali begin on December 5th, thus we have decided to change our route in Senegal. Originally we planned on a quick sprint through the region following the course of the Mauritanian border, but at the border, realising we had more time than planned we changed our minds deciding instead to head to Dakar, through The Gambia and into Casamance where the scenery and culture is known for its vibrancy.
Keen to get back on the road we are now waiting in Dakar for the Tabaski festival to pass us by. Tabaski is a festival of sacrifice, here in West Africa that sacrifice means a kind of goat apocolypse. Everywhere goats are being transported to various destinations where they will serve to feed families as they celebrate this important festival (more commonly known as Eid al-Adha). As a result of this celebration all shops and services close for several days making it a bad time for us to be on the road. The decision to stay in Dakar has not been difficult given the incentive of large quantities of food and mass festivities!
Currently we are staying between two houses, one belonging to some very hospitable couchsurfers from Tunisia who are studying in Dakar and the other is of Dialimady, the brother of a kora player and friend in London. Dialimady offered the roof to his shared house which given the sweaty night temperatures has brought us some very cool and starry nights!
Over the next few days we will celebrate Tabaski before getting back on the road and heading towards the border with the Gambia where we are told the landscape will become greener, the people even more hospitable and musicians abundant.
Posted in Planning
Tagged casamance, couchsurfing, cycling, dakar, gambia, goat, mali, map, planning, route, senegal, tabaski, visa, west africa
Two days ago now, after what felt like a very long rest from the bikes, we returned to the saddle and pedalled some 50 km from Saint Louis. Imran’s knee held up beautifully and after leaving the city at lunchtime we arrived in the small village of Barale Ndiaye. Unsure of where to camp we sought the advise of the village elders who invited us to stay in their compound over night.
Small and friendly the compound was a little haven from the road, Muma was the first to greet us and the only fluent French speaker in the community.
The women were busy sorting through the days picking of Bissup, a leafy flower that is harvested for two months of the year. Our visit to Senegal times perfectly with season bringing us plentiful supplies of the refreshing juice of ‘bissup rouge’ at regular roadside stops.
After pitching our tent (well actually only the inner mosquito net owing to the heat at night), we sat with the women and began our first Wolof lesson of the trip. Keen for us to learn a crowd of some 30 participating teachers grew as both of us desperately tried to keep up. The conclusion is that Mikaela now speaks more Wolof than she does French!
After a pretty intensive session we sat down to eat. We sat alone whilst the men and women ate from two separate bowls. Dinner was ‘Lah’, a dish made up of mill grain soaked in a yoghurt, it took on the consistency of a porridge with the addition of a little sand (something we have become pretty used to!).
We have also become used to bicycle laziness, that is limited maintenance as the bikes (Razzle and Dazzle as we call them) have been so good to us! But yesterday brought our first puncture, an epic and explosive injury caused by a stray nail in the road. Though sad to have broken our ‘no puncture’ record, this, the largest of our bicycle issues remains minor!
Tomorrow we will reach Dakar, the capital of Senegal and a city known for its strong music scene, and who knows, we might even have our first beer in two months!
Posted in Cycling, Food
Tagged bissup, cycling, dakar, knee, lah, mill, mosquito, pedalling, puncture, rouge, sand, senegal, st louis, tent, village, wolof, yoghurt