Sunday, 14 January 2007

Visas & Borders ...

Arriving back at CasaAfrique I went to bed. Gianni came into the room to tell me that there was a rat in the bathroom. Knowing I am petrified of rats I thought he was winding me up, but then he started hopping around the room and I laughed and said it must be a kangaroo that's managed to get to Africa!!! Eventually I worked out that he didn't know the word for 'frog' in French and it was a frog in the bathroom hopping around!!!

We got up earlier than normal to pack and get ready for the Guinea Bissau Consulate & the drive south.

Arriving at the Consulate just before 9am, we were thrilled to find it open already and met Luiz the consul who'd cut off the top of his thumb in an accident. Amazingly he had the visa's ready in 10mins for the cost of 10,000CFA compared to the 20,000CFA normally paid in Dakar. I asked him what he knew about a village called Varela on the coast just the other side of the border from Cap Skirring (Senegal). He knew it and knew the owner of 'Chez Helene' a lady called Fatima and said it would be a great place to see.

We set off immediately for the gare routiere to find a taxi. We got a 7 seater Peugeot for 1,900CFA to Sao Domingos and then had a massive argument about the price of our luggage. He wanted 2,000CFA a piece, I was prepared to pay 250CFA and whilst the baggage guy and Gianni were arguing I pulled both our packs off the roof and started walking. The driver of the car was upset and asked me what I was doing, I told him that the price was ridiculous and I was off to find another vehicle. He told me that he'd accept 500CFA and I agreed to it; Gianni was still mid-argument when I told him and then an argument ensued between the driver and baggage guy. We got into the vehicle whilst they were sorting out their money!

The 19km to the Senegalese border at M'Pack was quick and on a good road. The Senegalese police were remarkably restrained in not asking for any money and we got back into the car which then failed to start. We were pushed by some workmen (who were paid for their small effort) and continued on about 2km to the Guinea Bissau border post. Whilst talking to the police I noticed our packs being moved and realised that we were changing cars too. Leaving the border we drove the final 8km at high speed; I was subsquently told that that piece of road was the most dangerous for ambushes.

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