Giz a lift mister….
… or ‘Sir, may we charter your vessel?’
Sounds grand doesn’t it? The reality was somewhat different and surreal in the extreme. It was such a simple idea, get to the port. Find a likely boat and haggle with the owner to take us by sea to Senegal. St. Louis would do nicely. The car and trailer, driven by Ian would go on as originally planned, by road through Mauritania. Seems a lot to place on his shoulders, and it was, but he had the most experience at this and without us could maintain a much higher speed and importantly a much lower profile. He would meet us at St. Louis.
But first, catch your boat. This means first find the port! That became the event for the day. We knew where the campsite was, but if this worked out – we wouldn’t need it, or not for long at least. So began a couple of hours of what felt like “well, it cant be much further now /it must be just up there…”
I must explain that Dakhlas lifeblood; the port, is built around a peninsula. We simply aimed for the coast. We headed in the general, more or less, sort of right direction; West. This seemed a good enough plan to me. I live in a coastal city with ports, this cant be hard to find…
We rode that entire coastline – most of it before we found the port. Me with my mouth hanging open in cultural bewilderment for a good part of it. Pursuing something that it turned out did not exist.
That was; the opportunity to talk to a boat owner.
This is because when we did find the port entrance, it was well fenced off, with one point of entry and that, guarded by police and officials. Which, given the strategic value of this town, really should have occurred to us sooner. But it hadn’t occurred to us at all. While locals could come and go as they pleased more or less – a troupe such as ours was always going to draw attention and get stopped. We were asked our business. I can’t actually remember how much Denis told them, but I knew as soon as we stopped, that this had to be ‘played well’ to gain entry.
But how do you do that, eh? We’re not exactly subtle; an odd bunch of grubby little Bikers and a 4×4 with a trailer trying to access a fishing port? A stilted conversation went on between mostly Denis and the officials. The bottom line was No Entry.
You see “This is a fishing port, there are no passenger boats here, no ferry services, nobody here would do what you ask”, said The Man.
While I fully accepted the thrust of his statements, I seriously doubted the last part. I was damn sure someone with a boat would have taken us to Senegal for a fistful of Euros – if he hadn’t got wind of us first that is. However, with access denied we had no option but to turn around and go back the way we came. A strange sensation in itself; to reverse – Forward had been the only direction since we left the U.K.
After leaving the Port we turned off the busy road. In a relatively quiet spot, by an inlet between the industrial estates, we stopped for a bite to eat.
As I stripped off the helmet, body armour and gloves – face into the stiff sea breeze, the wind took the heat and at least some of the tension away from me. I let out a deep breath and I remember telling myself to relax. Now gather your wits, what little you have anyway.
In every sense this was a Crossroads. Behind me, back the way I’d come. Ahead of me, names of places on a map, one line representing the (only) road. Dotted lines indicating borders. Varying amounts of ‘Unknown’ in between and nothing left as a reference point that didn’t vary in reliablity depending on the frame of mind and time of day!
I have to focus, evaluate and make the decision I’d been thinking around and not facing head on.
Are you going to do this or what?
Plan B was out. Our only options were; forward or bail out. That simple, that stark, make your mind up. Now. This was it. The whole point of the whole thing boiled down to a single simple answer to the question above.
The journey to the campsite was subdued. The evening however was electric with anticipation.
That’s it for now. Better to post something than not at all. Thanks to my ‘Editor’ for the encouragement and to the Gent that eMailed me; i promise to reply soon – i hope to assist 😉