Day 21 –St Louis | Dakar

St Louis – Dakar

September 22nd, 2011
Not the earliest start, but brekkie of french pastries and coffee and orange juice (with bits) and get the bike packed. I can’t quite believe that we will finally actually make it to Dakar – the bike has not made any complaint in over 1000km and the engine is as sprightly as ever, in fact she seems keen to get there. Justyna has been in charge of packing for the last few days – finally worked out a system that involved less chefs and was more efficient. Head off south on the last leg after gassing up. Gas is European prices I notice in Senegal, €1.50/litre as opposed the the €1.00/litre in Morocco.

We cruise past lush tropical vegetation on a good road. Many towns and villages along the way. Stop for a break and are surrounded by kids. Justyna figured candy was better than handing out money and had several large bags to hand out along the way. At one point one of the mothers appears. We think she wants candy but end up realizing that she’s inviting us to lunch. We gratefully decline and head south.

By 4pm we’re in heavy traffic on the outskirts of Dakar. Alas there are no “Dakar” signposts that I could find to take the trophy picture with! We’re running late and finally make it to the Maersk Office around 4.30pm. Nick has airfreight quote and his guy says that the bike needs to be in bond by this time tomorrow in order to avoid customs problems. And he has his boys measure the bike so they can construct a packing crate for it. Super efficient.

After this, we take some pics in front of the office and head off to Cap Almadies, the most western point of the African contient to take some pictures and then try to find another Lonely Planet approved hotel nearby. Unfortunately the light is going when we finally reach the Cap though the early evening traffic. Take some pics, that are not great, and then head off to find hotel. Finally find it and check in. It’s the worst room on the whole trip. The power keeps going out, the aircon only blows hot air and mosquitos around the room, but it’s on the ocean with the sound of the breakers and there’s a restaurant. Check in and time to have a little celebration!

Order the usual end of ride pastis … and a nice bottle of champagne – over 6000km and the old bike made it with little other than a broken chain! She’s been past Dakar in a container ship twice, but it’s strange to remember riding along the road in Oude weltering exactly 3 weeks earlier on the way to this place – no airline ticket necessary! She is no longer just a machine, and I don’t think I could eve bear to be parted from her – way too many fond memories of exotic roads travelled. I think they’ll have to put the piston from this bike in my coffin! Once again she hasn’t left me hugely stranded on the side of the road and she’s got though it all. It’s also nice to share the celebration for as well. Unfortunately there were no oysters as per end of ride tradition with Glenn and Saija after the ride across America.

What a superb journey. Not sure how to top this one to be perfectly honest!

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