Day 48: Goodbye Senegal

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Fri 24 Dec 2010 13:53
Day 48: Wednesday 22 December 2010. Le Loisir encampement, Mahina, Mali. N13 47.342 W010 50.044. Distance driven 306 km
We got up at 0530, on the road by 0630 and at the police post at the approach to the frontier by 0645, however they were all asleep! I woke up one sleepy policeman who said we had to go to the town police station to get our exit stamps! We hunted down the police station in the dark in the back streets of Mahina, chased out the goats, and got our passports stamped. By that time the border police had woken and were praying, so we had to wait for them to record our departure. Then across the approach ramp to the bridge, final stop to get our carnet stamped and we were out of Senegal for ever!
The Mali entry formalities were somewhat haphazard but accomplished by 0815 and we  were on our way on tarmac 95 km to Kayes.  In Kayes we filled our water tank from a roadside vendor, decided we didn't like the look of the town "Cyber Cafeteria" and moved onto the piste towards Kita. This got worse and worse as the day drew on. It started as a wide "new" road being built by the Chinese - all it lacked was a tar surface.  The further on we went the earlier the stage of construction and the more "deviations" round new culverts.  We crossed the river on a proper bridge and motored on.  After perhaps 150 km the piste became very, very rough and much of the surface finely divided dust like talcum powder.  Soon the inside of the Land Rover was entirely coated with dust, as we were. We finally arrived at a ferry crossing at a confluence of rivers opposite Bafoulabe and embarked the LR and ourselves for CFA 7,000 (£10).  However, the captain had other ideas and landed us across one river, but not across both.  The "Capitaine"  kept demanding a "cadeau" (present) until I got fed up and told him I was an ocean captain of a much better vessel than his, at which point he shut up! We then had to drive 7 km through very rough unmarked tracks to Mahina where we crossed the other river on a railway bridge!  On the approach we were conned into parting with CFA 5,000(£7)  for the crossing, which we later found to be free.  By this time it was almost dark, we were hot, filthy, exhausted and we hadn't found anywhere to camp so we took a room at a "motel" on the banks of the river.  The room had no toilet but a shower, which was bliss.  After a meal of chicken and chips we were asleep by 8.30 pm.
I found that by 11.30 pm my mouth was so dry I just had to get up a make a cup of tea so I sat outside at midnight and brewed a pint of Yorkshire tea under a full moon with the temperature still about 28 degrees!