Don’t run the stop signs!!

Tambacounda Travel Blog

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resting in the hammock...

After morning porridge, really should get sugar as chocolate spread isn’t as nice to sweeten it up, and my real filtered coffee, I was out on the dirt again with the Gambia-Senegal border firmly in my sights.  Got a bit of a run around at the Gambia border town then  was directed down an 8km bomb cratered dirt track (wasn’t bombed really, just looked like it!).  The Gambian immigration guy tried it on with an over stay but put gave him a short finger lesson in mathematics and this was my last day ya ejjit!  The Senegal 7km track was no better, blagged a 10day transit visa, normally much less, from immigration shack saying I had a problem with my moto that needed fixed if I could, she needs a change of oil/filters if I can only find the correct oil! 

((((((((((Now if hear you folks back in Europe or any other developed country complain that you can’t get this or that down the shops you should come to Africa and try looking for stuff.  Honestly, it can be so frustrating… riding past shops/shacks looking what is laid outside to get an idea and at the same time watching the road for these EJJITS that drive out in front of you all the time without a glance behind them (left more than one skid mark I’ll tell you), people, donkey and carts, various animals (which the lazy floppy eared domestic goat is a complete crazy fool compared to the wee pointy ear ones that do hall ass when they see you), plus you get the run around from people (oh and the never ending shouts and repeated questions every time you stop).  I’ve taken the baffles out of my exhaust that give the bike a VERY LOUD throaty roar to it if you on it up but it is loud enough when gently ridding for people to hear you coming behind them and it is like the parting of the Red Sea (loud pipes save lives!).  Throw in the chaos of sprawling dusty town in a poor developing country and I you might start to have an idea.  OK, I’ll stop now, I just had a wee moment…it’s not all easy ya know and now I’m starting to get used to it, if you can’t find it then one day then  you just might find it another day with some luck, then it’s happy days))))))))))

Anyways, leaving the Senegal dirty rubbish strewn border town I see a stop sign but this is a straight road with a smaller side road, slowing to take a look to see if that is the way to Timbacounda? a copper blows his whistle with a big smile and waves at me to stop.  Busted! (and I’ve heard about this trick! Of coppers waiting by stop signs to impose fines from us folks, it’s there version of a personal cash machine).  Time to turn on the BS.  Getting stopped in Gambia I found more difficult because they spoke English but I was back in French speaking Senegal.  The usual firm shake of the hand and smile, keeping my helmat and gloves on still stopped in the middle of this junction I gave him my French greeting.  He speaks French and I continue to answer some words in French.  Asks if I speak French when he twigs I don’t speak the lingo, now I switch to Spanish, this confuses him a bit and he continues to talk about the stop sign I’ve just run pointing at it.  I pretend I haven’t got a clue and say yes I’ve just come that way from the border ignoring anything about a stop sign, now I start asking him which direction is what, I speak about other random things pointing, my engine is still running adding to the noise.  Then I switch to English laying on my accent pointing at my map, now he’s really confused how to take this thing forward (this is going on a few minuets) and I switch back to Spanish saying I can’t stop my moto, I have BIG problemo, need mechanico to repairo, ohno’o?!!  Now he’s thinking how is this guy going to get anything fixed when he can’t even communicate, gives up and waves me to ride on (hahahahaa, that’s one up for me! For now that is…). 

Got to Timbacounda and FOUND SYNTHETIC OIL!! 

The following day a met a nice older couple at the place I was staying (She Dutch and him Italian), they were my interprets asking if I could change the oil in this nicely kept aberge.  It had secured walled parking and was a nice place to work on my bike, also fixed the fault with my neutral light staying on, SWEET.  Had a very pleasant time and there was no reason to hurry, I enjoyed their company.  It was about 3pm by the time I left east to the Mali  border along a very nice road but there were potholes to keep an eye for, that dusty marking ahead in the gray road is your first clue, second is when you see the hole, third is when you bounced over it.

After an hour and half I had made very good time.  Less than a 100km from the morning border crossing.  I saw a young army guy by the road by his bike and he waved at me as I went past and not to say hello.  I noticed he had a slip on Red Cross band on his arm by his shoulder, it instantly reminded me of the one I have from volunteering after the tsunami in Thailand.  Without thinking I turned around and he was out of petrol.  I gave him a couple of litres from my bike, swapped contact details, a nice guy.  I did think that this would be a good trick for bandits to rob people like me and I done a double take when he went into the bushes but it was for the toilet so quickly stopped looking over my shoulder.  He had the proper medical stuff with him so I quickly pushed that demon out of my head but I will be careful in future.  I rode behind him for a while then let a couple of cars pass me and as he rode around a bend I pealed of left into the bush and rode well in until I found a good camp spot by a old chopped down tree with lots of old wood for a fire.  So here I am now sat in my hammock after rice and fried onion, garlic, sardines with spice, looking at the stars, the fire glowing red and I can hear something apart from the usual insects from the pitch black bushes behind me…What is that?… hmmm time to throw another log on the fire and chase this demon out of my head, don’t let your imagination get the better of you or they’ll be naa sleep tonight……...ahhhh it’s the bush behind me that the hammock is tied off too making the noise from me moving…

(((in the morning I packed up and as I was riding back out through the bush to find the road again and a guy on a bike comes out of nowhere to my left and says something with a smile, “JESUS!!!!” And I nearly leaped over the handle bars with surprise as my heart jumped…I fold my mirrors down when off the road so didn’t see him coming)))

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resting in the hammock...
resting in the hammock...
Tambacounda
photo by: leah151