sabato 24 marzo 2012

Bamako-Dakar by bus: an epic journey

This was probably the toughest and most tiring bus ride of my entire life. We do expected a long and difficult trip therefore we chose the "best"(at least Malians consider it the best)Bus company but we faced a 33hours trip by an old Spanish Bus, no aircon (we reached more than 40 degrees in Kayes region), no reclining chairs, all windows closed and a terrible mixture of dust, sand and hot air entering from the 2 sliding roofs. Yet on the bus there was a young Nigerien woman with one small kid and 2 fe months babies...with just one seat, the poor kid cried all the trip whereas after a while a stench of shit. In the bus a revolt broke out with the angry passengers shouting toward the woman and the driver, obliging him to stop in the next village where the bus was cleaned with buckets of water. The silent woman and her children didn't get on the bus, I dont know what happened to her and her kids. Anyway in a few hours the aisle returned dirty because all the passengers used it as a rubbish bin, throwing fruit peels, peanut husks, papers. Behind me a woman washed her kid with some the aisle, of course!
But what gave a strong contribute to make this journey so tiring were the check points, I counted at least 2 in Mali and 3 or 4 in Senegal. Just to give you an idea, during one of these ID controls I watched ALL the Marseille-Inter champions League match and had to wait 20 more minutes before the control was finished. But even worse was the Senegal Douane (Custome house)check points because they obliged everybody to get off the bus, then asked to drop off all the baggages, then to open them all and this scene, in the middle of the night, was repeated after 2 hours by a different Douane office, in a identical, non sense, frustrating way that make most of the passengers FURIOUS. A friend of Ale, doctor by Saint Louis, said that the reason of these controls is the miserable salary that most of police men get, therefore they behave in this way, asking sometimes 1000CFA (or more in Gambia and Guinea Bissau), hoping that something illegal get out, or hoping that a shattered passengers offer some money to escape this slow, painful torture. Senior officials know but tolerate it. Just to complete this nightmare journey, the Bus driver preferred to save a few thousands CFA (a few euro)taking the normal road instead of the new Dakar highway, however Flavio and Ale, the Italian and Senegalese strong men arrived to Dakar dreaming a hot shower, a huge Cep bu Jen (rice with fish) and a clean confortable bed.

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