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No welcome in Saint Louis

Monday, March 11, 2013

Well as you’ve probably gathered from the previous entry, I’m in great difficulty. My passport, Visa Card and a few other items have gone. I’m currently in Dakar and visited the British Embassy this morning to apply for an emergency transit passport. The problem is this only allows me to transit through 5 countries and as the nearest place I can get a replacement passport in Africa is South Africa, unless I flew there (which at £1,000 is way beyond my budget) my trip here in Africa is over.

My only other option is to return to the nearest country that will issue me a passport and that is Spain (Madrid). So as soon as I get the emergency passport (hopefully this week) I’ll be heading back to Spain. I’m gutted and totally at a loss, I just cannot believe how much bad luck I get and the passport going is on top of a pretty bad week which has put me at an all time low.

But I have to go on and so I’ll continue to update this blog…

Another Scam

You’d think I’d learn, but bad people come in all disguises. This time it was a genuine Mauritanian policeman. I was persuaded during a meal that the Diama crossing was currently very difficult if not impassable on a bike and that I could get a lift (and help) in crossing at Rosso. This information was confirmed by other people in the cafe (but on reflection I should have found a way to check it on the internet). It sounded too good to be true and as the policeman was the brother of the cafe owner(!) I thought it was genuine (and to be honest I still don’t know).

To cut a long story short, once I was in their clutches it took some getting out and not before I’d had to part with significant funds to get my passport back (they were taking care of all the red tape and fees(!) which given what happened later, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered. It’s easy now looking back to see it was a scam, but at the time not so…

If believed, the policeman’s sister run’s this place – Nouakchott (sorry about the poor quality).

Truth is the actual Rosso crossing was made incredibly easy for me, but at a very high cost. However had I not realised (somewhat late) it was a scam, they could have pried more – it was their greed which finally alerted me. It’s a shame, because I was persuaded to leave Mauritania earlier than I’d planned (I was enjoying it) and this has soured my memory of the country.

The Rosso crossing, Senegal border.

Once through the border check in Senegal I was quickly on my way, in a very angry and upset state of mind. I found it hard to accept my own stupidity, but as I’ve previously said, these scammers are experts. However my mood changed as I took in my new surroundings, the wonderful scenery, the sights and the good tarmac road as I headed towards Saint Louis.

Local traffic on the quiet roads.

It was too late to get there in one push, so I began to look for a safe place to camp and was spotted by the locals. Wandering about away from the main highway I was gestured to camp in a local village (for safety) and I enjoyed my first night in Senegal amongst the goats, cows and other assorted animals of the villagers. Once I’d handed round my dates to the kids I was pretty much left to try and sleep through the noise – but it was a real treat and the reason why I’d chosen Africa to visit.

The village where I spent my first night in Senegal.

Next morning and I was up and off early, hoping to be in Saint Louis with plenty of time to spare to search for cheap accommodation or a campsite. It was as I approached the outskirts that I noticed the mood changing. I have gotten used to the cries of “toubab” from the local kids – it means ‘white man’ and I don’t think it’s necessarily said as a derogatory term, that is until the older boys (and some adults) also hissed and spitted as they said it and I found this a little threatening.

I decided to stop at about 26 kilometers from the city for some much needed food and unpacked my pannier. After enjoying my lunch I packed up and off I rode, leaving behind my bum bag. Didn’t take me long to realise I’d left it, so I turned around only to see a local making off with it. Oh crap, not a chance of catching him so I sat and waited (and waited) at my meal stop to see if he’d return. Some chance.

By the time I got into Saint Louis it was late, so I determined I’d report it the next morning to the police. I duly found the station and was told to return at 3:00 p.m. which I did and told to sit and wait in a fly infested room – no details were taken from me. Just short of 4 hours later I was called and told to go to an office, where I gave the details. It took another hour to get my incident report, after having to go back to the front desk and ask them to take my details (they should have done this on my arrival) and wait again. And that pretty much concluded my stay in Saint Louis as I couldn’t wait to leave.

On my way to Dakar I’d stop off at the Zebra Bar for a much needed pick-me-up and a bit of R&R, before getting into Dakar for Monday morning at the British Embassy. I’ll tell you about this in my next post…

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm

derek, get yourself to Kenya. you can sit here while you sort out the passport issue. At least then you dbnt have to give up on Africa. In fact , when you get your new passport,you can continue on south which will be a breeze from here.!! Think about it.

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Hey Derek, so sorry to hear about your problems. It sounds ridiculous that you have to go to Spain for a replacement passport, but I guess that you are being properly advised. So glad that you are not giving up.
Very best wishes

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Lel, How? I only can have 5 transit countries.

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Hi Derek, so sorry to hear about the scam and all your troubles with Mauritanian Police. How typical!!! I don’t understand why you have to go all the way to South Africa, Can’t they do anything in The Gambia? There is a British High Commission there. After reading your post today my kids took out their Atlas and thought of the following. “To get to Kenya, uncle Derek should try and come back to Mauritania, Algeria, Libya, Sudan and to Kenya.” They kept counting the borders and countries. At least that way you don’t have to leave Africa… Just thought to share so you can imagine how they are really enjoying your journey and don’t want you to give up. 🙂 Wrt the “toubab” I get called that all the time by the local senegalese here which I found quiet funny being an african originally.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Hi Mona,

    The South African embassy in Pretoria is the closest that will issue a full UK passport, which I obviously need if I am to continue my travels. There are other countries in Europe, but this would mean leaving Africa.

    I’m hoping a door opens regarding getting to Kenya and meeting friends there, I’ll post when I know.

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I am so sorry to hear of the problems. Flights from Dakar to London are around £400-550 return, from Agadir it’s much cheaper, less than £150 with Thompson. If you decide to take this option I will gladly put you up whilst you are in London, I shall be home tomorrow.

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