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
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
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.
" Traffic jam " Dakar , Senegal 2002