Days 202 to 205: The Roast

Day 202: The Wheels On The Bus Go FWAP FWAP FWAP 21.07.09: As the dawn was breaking ahead of us (myself and two guys from my shared taxi) we crossed over the bridge (there’s ALWAYS a bridge!) into Mali. It was a Kodak moment, I wish there had been a camera op there, Matt would have loved it. From there, we walked to the place from whence we get the bus to Bamako, the capital. The bus was sitting there waiting for us, ready to leave. Although good old WAWA was on hand to ensure things didn’t run that smoothly. The bus waited for HOURS before it was quite ready to leave, thank you very much. Isaac, one of the guys who had shared the taxi with me from Tambacounda, translated that many of the people already waiting, had been there since yesterday. This did not…

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Days 198 to 201: The Odyssey Reloaded

Day 198: The Approach 17.07.09: Wawaweewa. Friday! Are we still at sea? It would appear so. No sign of Dakar yet, but the GPS was insisting it was less than 100 miles away. I was particularly worried that Mandy and her over-active imagination would be concerned that I had been attacked by a giant squid, swallowed by a whale, consumed by the ghastly Kraken or frantically lopping the heads off the great Hydra only for more to grow in their place. No such excitement, I’m sorry to report. The day sluggishly went by as we yakked and played cards. That night, there was a CRACKIN’ thunderstorm over yonder, flashes in the distant clouds every couple of seconds. I hoped Senegal hadn’t descended into war, but with no radio and absolutely no human contact for a week, who’s to say what was going on in the real…

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Day 151: Wish Me Well

31.05.09: This will be my last blog entry for a little while. I leave on HMS Deathtrap tonight. I better leave you all some particulars. The name of the boat is the Moustapha Sy and the captain's name is Mbaye Séne Faye. He was born on 08 Nov 1975 in Dieleumbane. I should be getting into Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, on Tuesday or Wednesday. The boat I'm on doesn't have a radio and the guys onboard don't speak Portuguese. I've asked my parents to ensure that the port authorities in Praia are informed of when we are coming in, otherwise they might turn us back. Can somebody make sure that they do actually do that? Thanks. It's rather important. You have no idea how much I don't want to do this. Thank Zeus that May is over! What a rotten, frustrating, infuriating and expensive…

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Day 150: Voodoo Economics

30.05.09: The two boats that I might have had an outside chance of getting on have said no (not surprised when I'm not there in person to charm them). I hate this place. Dakar is truly a miserable place full of miserable people - no big friendly African smiles here. Everyone walks around with a face like thunder. Everything - the shops, the cars, the houses - seem to be constructed out of stuff somebody has found in a skip and I DON'T GET IT. Okay, okay, we expect countries in Africa to be poor, but this just doesn't add up... A meal in a restaurant costs about a tenner. A beer costs two quid. A cab ride will set you back exactly what it would in Liverpool. I just don't get it... I'm paying exactly what I'd pay in Britain for stuff (except I'm paying…

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Day 149: The Answer’s No, Now What’s The Question?

29.05.09: All of the stuff that was supposed to happen, all of the stuff that Mentor ‘had a good feeling about' has come to nought. Still here, with not a clue how to move on. We've spent the last four days waiting for the phone to ring. Eventually it does ring and whoever is on the phone says no. There are no yachts for hire, nor fishing boats, no cargo boats I can hitch a ride on, nothing. This sucks. This sucks the big one. I'm beginning to get desperate. And desperate men make dumb decisions.

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Day 148: Limbo

28.05.09: Still waiting on Mentor to get me on a boat. I'm sitting here in the pile of concrete, dust and junk that is Dakar, twiddling my thumbs. Maybe tonight I'll go out and get drunk (actually, it'll probably be eight quid a beer, so maybe not). Maybe I'll still be here next week, who knows? All I know is that I've just bled hundreds of pounds all over the floor and I haven't a clue how I'm going to pay for the rest of this bloody journey.

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Day 147: Go On Then, Just This Once…

27.05.09: I got on the internet this afternoon and GUESS WHAT?! I will have to go BACK to the Gambia because after checking my GPS, I discover that I was picking my nose 100ft north of the actual border! Seriously! Both border posts are in Senegal! After a 15-hour round trip through Glastonbury when it rains in a shared taxi with no third gear!! I go the only place I can escape this rotten world. To sleep; perchance to dream. The original contents of this blog entry have been removed after legal advice.

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Day 146: Night-Trip to Gambia

26.05.09: So Mentor and I hit the streets to find a way to Cape Verde. We go down to the beach where all the fishermen are. Mentor makes some phone calls, talks to some people. By 2pm, it was clear that I would not be leaving today. I decide not to waste my time, and so head over to The Gambia for a quick border-hop. The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa - a thin slither of land completely encompassed by Senegal that surrounds the Gambia River like a novelty balloon. It was supposed to take 5 hours in a Sept-Place to get there, but the reality of life in a country where the politicians are far too busy doing GOD KNOWS WHAT to deal with the fact that there are more holes in the MAIN road than there are in the plot of Star…

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Day 145: It’s Gonna Cost Ya…

25.05.09: And so my journey took me to the most expensive country so far. More expensive than Japan, Norway and London PUT TOGETHER. I am talking, of course(?), about Senegal. The Sept-Place taxi that took me to the border (as any who half a brain cell should be able to work out) is designed to take seven passengers. Mine took FOURTEEN. After a good few hours of that (and the fact we stopped every few seconds to pay some corrupt policeman a bribe), I was ready to kill, kill and kill again, but now I had the border to negotiate. Sorry mate, it's closed until 3pm. What? Yeah, closed. What for? Lunch? I looked at my watch. 12:15pm. A calculation in my head - if I wait until 3, I'll get into Dakar about 11 at night. Dakar, first time, by myself, at 11pm. Hmm... Okay,…

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