Day 46: Monday 20 December 2010. Bush camp between
Koalack and Tambacounda, Senegal. N14 04.041 W015 15.384 Distance driven
312 km. Total distance 8,244 km.
Today's mission was to get our Carnet de Passage stamped
by Customs so that we could head for the Mali border as we have a Christmas day
date with the Oasis crew (2 days ahead of us) at the Sleeping Camel in
0545. Get up in the dark, have cold shower in the dark -
fortunate because they are open showers!
0645. Drive out in the dark, headed for Dakar Port. We
figured if we kept the sea on our starboard side we would come to the Port
eventually, and this strategy worked well - we hit the Port right outside the
Customs building after driving down the new Corniche Ouest road through classy
suburbs of Dakar with hundreds of locals doing keep-fit classes on the beach in
0715. Arrive at Bureau des Douanes -
subsection Dakar Port, and find out that it opens at 0800.
0745. Enter and are told we must see the Chef de Bureau
on the second floor - sounds about right, always start at the top. Wait
outside his office, only to find it is the wrong one!
0815. Enter outer office of Chef de Bureau where there
are 2 clerks. Clerk #1 take sour Carnet, attaches a document control
sheet, issues a number, enters it in a ledger, and puts it in a pile for
submission to the chief. Clerk #1 says to come back at 0930, clerk #2 says
0900. We go out in the street and sit with a bunch of guys having a coffee
from a one-man mobile vendor. 2 coffees 100 CFA whereas at our classy
beach resort, 1 coffee CFA 1500! How the tourists are ripped off.
0900. Back at the Chef de Bureau office. Wait until 0920
when clerk #1 takes the pile of papers in for signature. Meanwhile two
"suits" arrive for a meeting with the Chief and our hopes are dashed, but at
0930 out come the papers. This is followed by a flurry of stamping by the
document controller and Clerk #2 enters all the outcoming papers in another
ledger. It seems that our Carnet has passed the first control point!
Clerk #2 then takes us, with a pile of papers, down to the Secretariat
Office on the ground floor where a number of papers are transferred, signed for
and entered in yet another ledger. The Secretary of the Secretariat Chef de
Section advises us that the Chef is not there - he is one of the "suits"
upstairs with the Chef de Bureau. We are told he may be an hour. As it is
Monday morning and the offices were closed last Thursday and Friday for a public
holiday, one imagines they have lots to talk about.
0940. Meanwhile we, and many others, sit outside the
Chef de Section office and observe the comings and goings, most of which are
very elegant young ladies, beautifully dressed and mainly in stiletto
heels. We begin to wonder what brings them to Customs HQ? Outside
the Secretariat there had been a very busty, black haired beauty in 6" heels,
sitting on the customer's side of one of the desks. When I asked Jenny her
opinion of the lady's function she implied that it was mainly performed lying
down. However, this notion was later dispelled.
1035. Chef "suit" appears and 5 minutes later we go back
in the chase our Carnet only to find that Chef has approved it and gorgeous is
recording the fact in yet another ledger. She then takes us to yet another
office where the papers are transferred to a man who looks as if he actually
does something. He quickly takes out our Carnet, requests a copy of the car
registration document and a copy of my passport (fortunately we have a ready
supply of these) and quickly completes and stamps the Carnet.
1045. Outside and driving away after three hours mainly
Now, if Customs in Dakar are prepared to accept
Carnet de Passages, why in heavens name can't Customs at the frontier accept the
Carnet? Why did we have to go all the way to Dakar, hundreds of miles out of our
way and take 3 days out of our holiday? Is its just
We then hot-footed it out of town - at a steady 20 kph
in thick traffic!! It got better once we were out of town but the pollution was
dreadful - blowing sand, cement plant dust, diesel fumes, oil burning cars
ugh! Once clear of Dakar we managed to put in over 300 km before we
collapsed from heat exhaustion. One thing we don't have in the car is a
thermometer but it must have been 35 degrees today. Still, while waiting
outside the Chef's office we watched French TV coverage of snow in Europe
closing the main Paris airports! Give me polluted Dakar at 30+!
We are camped by the side of the main road to the Mali
border tonight in a field from which millet has just been harvested. No
bugs, no people to hassle us, no traffic and a full moon lighting up the
baobab trees. Wonderful!