On a low: Only 5km into our day of cycling and a huge thorn has buried itself within the depths of Mikaela’s front tyre and is causing multiple punctures. Time for a new tyre.
Mikaela gives her new tyre the kiss of luck!
On a high: A long day of pedalling and we arrive at an actual hotel. As students on bicycles we are swiftly shown to a cheap spot on the roof… we discover the hotel has a swimming pool and sneak lots of cheeky dips free of charge.
A blissful afternoon off the bikes…
On a low: Discovering the rumours were wrong, the road had not been paved as far as hoped…
The signpost gave little detail as to what the ‘danger’ was…
On a high: We rest our piste-shaken bones in the small village of Tedie Kanda. It’s an artisan village of Dogon people and we are invited to meet the local weavers at work.
Hard at work weaving cloth
On a low: The dust is bad and the borderland is much bigger than the map told us.
It should have been 15km…
An orange mist
On a high: At the Malian exit point, we worry about our dodgy visas (Imran was mistakenly given a 100 years duration). But it seems the officials are so happy we took the road against the advice of ‘evil Sarkozy’ (we assume a reference to the kidnap warning recently issued by the French Embassy for this particular road), they offer us tea and barely even glance at our invalid visas.
Sharing a glass of tea
On a low: We cycle past a truck accident, no one is hurt but there is fuel all over the road. It coats the tyres in a greasy layer and we nearly fall of our bicycles trying to brake, we then have to clean it off before heading down a bit of a hairy hill…
On a high: We reach Ouahigouya and the end of the piste, smooth tarmac stares us in the face and a friendly ‘ça va?’ calls out from next to a cart full of mangoes, we lean the bikes against a signpost for cold coca cola, time for a break…
Posted in Cycling, Travel, Uncategorized
Tagged artisan, Burkina Faso, cycle, dogon, dusty, mali, piste, puncture, sarkozy, swimming, tarmac, truck crash, weaving
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