Unfortunately the border between Guinea Bissau and Senegal is not open all night; in the morning it opens at 8am. We arrived at the border at 630am – avoiding all the corrupt police on the road as they had not yet reached their posts. After waiting around about 45 minutes my driver decided he wanted to visit a border market about 5 minutes away. When we returned from the border market slightly before 8am we were caught by one of the corrupt cops who extricated more money from us.
We made it through the Guinea Bissau border with no problems or delays. Entering Senegal was another matter. The officers had ‘lost’ the paperwork we had filed a few days earlier for our vehicle; it took nearly 2 hours dealing with this hassle. Not a delay we needed at this point.
Next up was the Senegal / The Gambia border – surprisingly we passed through with little hassle (considering the lengthy amount of time it took us to pass through here with the car the first time).
Many more police checkpoints (but no corrupt cops) soon followed along with many roadblocks that slowed our progress significantly. Finally we reached Banjul – the old city is located right on the coast. Recognizing it took us 3 hours to deal with the painfully slow and potentially dangerously overcrowded car+passenger ferry for mouth of The Gambia river crossing, I opted to take a private fishing boat this time. We jumped in as soon as we arrived at the beach and made the crossing in about 35 minutes – passing near numerous dolphins.From there it was another 6 or so hours to Dakar. We arrived on the outskirts after dark. My taxi driver soon rammed into the back of a van and we both lurched forward – I was seated in the back (no seat belts available) and pummeled the seat in front of me. Fortunately, not injured. It was a strong enough crash that our engine died. The vehicle we hit in front of us pulled over to the side of the road. My driver had the bright idea of practicing a ‘hit and run’ and he raced away from the scene of the accident.
The victim caught us after a few minutes – flashing his bright lights at us and honking furiously. He forced us over to the side of the road by cutting in front of us. He stopped and we stopped behind him. My driver backed up and raced away again. The other driver soon caught us and began screaming out the side of the window while cutting us off – my driver ignored him and eventually the other driver raced off into the night.
I was supposed to have been dropped off at the airport, but rather I was dropped off at a dimly lit bus station where I was taken to another taxi – one that was falling apart. All four handles inside had long come off and when I sat in the back seat I was unable to open any of the doors – I quickly had visions of being locked in a taxi cell – and taken somewhere bad. Fortunately this driver was above board and took me straight away to the airport with remarkably still several hours to spare before my flight departed.
Once we reached the airport, I immediately headed to a tiny stall in the closest bathroom I could find to wash off the layers of dust accumulated during our drive today – some of which came from when our driver had the bright idea of following trucks extremely close on dirt roads. 45 minutes later in my tiny bathroom stall I was semi-clean and more presentable. This was after using nearly a roll of toilet paper, bottled water and toilet water – leaving shards of toilet paper and other grime in my wake.