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The Wheels On The Bus Go Around And Round And Round And So On – The Tenacious Travelers

The Wheels On The Bus Go Around And Round And Round And So On

May 10, 2010.Cameron.0 Likes.0 Comments

Location: Traveling, Senagal, Africa

May 10, 2010

I hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into getting from Wa to London, I mean I had a base idea to hop from capital to capital and take a couple of detours in-between, but I didn’t really know what it was going to take. So, begins my trip overland back to London.

Pien had been kind enough to ride with me to the border of Ghana and Burkina Faso on my moto. It was nice to have one last ride in the upper west and I savoured every minute. It was a good ride because it had been raining so the road was nice and tricky, took about three hours to reach the border.

The brother of one of my colleagues lived in Hamale and he met us at the border, he is a local member of government and he made to process through the border simple. So, I reached the bus stop for the bus to Bobo by about noon. Here I had to say my last goodbye to the Ghana crew, and so I gave my last hug to Pien and I watched her walk away and I was alone.

The plan from here out was to get to Dakar in Senegal as soon as possible, I had spent time in Bobo, Bamako seemed nice, but I wanted to get to the coast quickly to have as much time as possible there. I needed to be in London before the end of the month to fishing some administrative stuff before heading to Mozambique on the 8th of November.

Now you are probably tired of hearing about long bus trips through West Africa, so I will brush over the first two. The bus rides from Hamale to Bobo (Took eight hours because the bus broke down) and then from Bobo to Bamako (12 hours) went simply enough and like all the trips I enjoyed the ride, but the longest and most gruelling bus ride of my life was yet to come. I spent only one night in each city, Bamako did seem nice though with some interesting sights but not enough to make want to stay. Plus, I was eager to get the next bus trip out of the way since I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one.

This was the bus trip from Bamako to Dakar; it’s a good distance, 1420km according to lonely planet and most people recon on a 36-hour trip. Unfortunately, my luck for getting good busses was absent that day and when we pulled out of the Bamako station at 7:00 I was on a bus with no windows that opened, no air conditioning, crammed in the front seat and left wondering if the bus was 40 or 50 years old.

I could write pages on this trip but I’m just going to summarize it here, if you want to know more feel free to ask. So, day one highlights included the bus moving far too slowly, breaking down on the side of the road and the border closing before we got there. I spent the night in an old petrol station sleeping next to the old pumps looking up through the holey roof at the stars. By this point I had got to know about six people on the bus, mostly Nigerians since they spoke English, they ranged in ages from 17 to 40 and had various professions but all were traveling for work.

Day two was by far the longer one; the border crossing can only be described as ridiculous. The border crossing took six hours to get stamped out of Mali, stamped into Senegal and have customs check all the good coming in. For me it was just a lot of waiting without any real issues, but for everyone else on the bus it was a lot more work. Corruption and bribes are something I have seen a lot of in West Africa and once or twice even had to pay but it was nothing compared to what happened at this border crossing.

I believe that there should be freedom of movement around West Africa for the citizens, so border crossings should be simple enough, but I know that sometimes people travel without the proper documents. Everyone had to hand over money at the exit check point and the entry check point. Some of the younger Nigerians I was traveling with and the same documents as me, but they were required to pay something, one had to give them his mobile phone. It was really depressing to watch everyone be relived of money or possessions with what seemed like little reason but it’s hard to know as an outsider.

After we were finally done the bus rolled on and on and on. The internal countryside of Senegal passed by hour after hour and melded into other countryside I had passed through, “I swear I have seen that village before” kind of trip.

The bus pulled into to Dakar at around 5:00 a full 46 hours after leaving Bamako, two nights spent on the road with no toilet or shower. I have found myself a nice little hostel by the water. So far Dakar looks nice, but I will leave that till the next post, there is only one thing I need to do now and that is have a shower. Man, I am glad that’s over.

Categories: Africa, Senagal

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