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L'hotel Sobo-Bade vol.1

I'm leaving Pompiers Bus Terminal by bush taxi. By the way, what kind of facility do you image with the word of "bus terminal"? It must have terminal buildings where big buses stop waiting the people on board. I imaged something like that for the "bus terminal" Because in all countries which I'd ever visited, it had been like that.

However the bus terminal in this country is not like that. I knew the fact when I checked the location of Pompier in advance. The main bus terminal of Dakar, the capital and one of the biggest city in West Africa, is something like .... like .... a grassy vacant lot.
Well certainly, the space is wide enough. But no terminal building is there. Many placards are placed over the space. Each placard tells each destination. Beside the placards is not beautiful mascot girl but very aggressive taxi operator. And of course, there are hundreds of bush taxies. I also find some buses. However it's absolutely far from the bus in my imagination. They customized a pick up truck and put benches on the deck and covered it with a simple canopy. Now, it's a "bus".

I'm waiting for departure in the bush taxi. Silence ... no body talk and just wait. A salesboy stick his nose into the slit of slightly opened window and offers a variety of goods, orange, banana, juice in plastic bag, peanut, bread, boiled egg, watch, deck brush ... Then another boy came for begging. I remembered that this country never let me alone.
A bush taxi is 7 seater. It never leave until being full. And usually it's over loaded when it departs. The taxi I take is not exception. It has already 8 passengers, and now they are trying to have one more. But they give it up.
I'm in the 2nd row seat. I'm pressed on the door by gigantic hips of the woman next to me. "Gosh, it's too dangerous" It could be easily happen that the door is flipped off. So I grasp a grip on the side sill tightly and support all the weight of the woman with shaking arm.

Once the taxi leaves the city, it's speeding up, a speeding madness. (But I know it later that it's safer driving than standard in Senegal) In the long straight section, the driver often tries passing. It's very hard to pass for the old car. So it takes too long. The heading car on the opposite lane is quickly shorten the distance. When we are almost clashing, the bush taxi has done the passing. "Phew ... "
However the driver isn't just speeding madness. He knows the route very well. When the taxi comes to the poor tarmac area, he gets off the beaten truck. The taxi get into the road side bush. He drives on the sandy road under the baobab trees. The driving is like the Safari Rally. The tail of the car widely drifts right and left. And the driver makes a beautiful counter steering for each tail slide.
But even in the tough situation, the woman next to me isn't so surprised. She puts a toothpick on her mouth and fully weights on me on the corner. The old man behind me even takes a nap. "Is it a normal for them?" The taxi runs in the land fill, then in somebody's yard. We go through beside a tree in the play ground of elementary school and get big applauds of the pupils.
"By the way, are we going to right direction?" When I'm wondering that, the taxi comes out from the bush to the tarmac. "We must be back to the main route."

"This is the place you get off" After an hour and half drive, the driver and passengers tell me. It sounds like transfer point to my destination, Toubab Dialao. "We are going on this main route. So get another taxi here" Huge baobab tree is there and the road is separated beside it. It looks so typical branch of the road.
However ... I thought it's not so easy to find another car. Because there is no car toward my direction. 11a.m. The bright sun of Africa is almost top of the sky and bleaches the scenery. I stands up blankly in the shade of the baobab tree. When I look back, I see a woman vending fruits. We make eye contact each other. She grins. It makes me buying an orange.

However, what a rational country Senegal is! Shortly after, a car is passing by and picks me up. It's good timing indeed as if everything is written on the script. (Although it's not free ride.) Maybe they know that they can get the customer with passing by the baobab point around 11 o'clock. But it doesn't matter to me at all whether the car passes by on purpose or accidentally. It's enough for me I find a car going for right direction.
The road condition is always poor. Basically the road is straight. However it's covered by hundreds of pit holes. So the driver swings the car right and left. He concentrated on the tarmac too much. So we are almost hitting the opposite car. I wanna drive by myself if it's possible.
The road gets into the hill top area. Some how the driver often tells me "Why don't you buy a house around here?" He goes on. "Italian, French ... lot of foreigner got houses here. It's cheap" Well, but house is not the things easy to buy compare to the orange of street vendor. (Oh, I should have asked for just price. How much was it that he meant "Cheap"? $10,000? No, it must not be.) As going to Toubab Dialao, we pass 3 small villages. All villas was placed on the top of hill, looks comfortable and has grate ocean view, looks not bad to live as the driver said.

As going on the tip of small cliff, the road is getting narrow and narrow. Finally the sandy alley is ended at a hotel. When I'm getting off, the driver asks me about my schedule later on. I suppose he wanna pick me up for return trip too. "Tomorrow, after tomorrow or two days after tomorrow. In the morning or in the evening. I dunno" I say.
I must get tired for his persistent question. But more than that, I don't like tighten up by schedule. It's my nature.

Aug. 2009

Today's piece
" Traffic jam " Dakar , Senegal 2002


fumikatz osada photographie