Dakar – Dalaba (Sunday)

Sorry – not bothering with a map today. Same as yesterday’s map anyway. Why would that be? Read on….

 

Manda is about 100 kilometres from Tambacounda. And as we rattle along in clouds of dust along the bone dry dirt roads towards Mythical Manda, I realise for the first time that it’s hot. Very Hot. Hopefully they have some shade there in Manda.

We hit a tar road. A few shops here and there. Suddenly Moussa sits up – he’s been sleeping most of the time, yet another example of how people can simply ignore the most hellish din on earth – and relax… Admittedly, I’m not very good at this.

‘I’ve seen one truck.’ He gets off as quick as he can and hobbles towards a large lorry. His men sit in the shade. ‘Need to sort this out. And the other one too. See you later.’

Which turns out to be dead easy because Manda is essentially one sun-drenched roundabout with four roads branching out in each direction.

And next to that roundabout, the glorious sight of brightly-coloured, yellow-black-red-green pimped up and remarkably sturdy Neuf Places. Guinean taxis. Yes, they stuff two more people in the same car: two on the front seat, four in the middle, and three at the back. There is no transport to Dalaba directly but I can take one to Labé, which is nearby and the capital of the Fouta Djalon, home to the region’s cattle experts, the Peulh. It’s ten in the morning, I am the first passenger. And have the right of choice.

I take the two seats at the front for the princely sum of 28,000 francs. €40,00. Seven to go. One man tosses my luggage on the roof. Hope it doesn’t melt.

And I go walkabout.

For an international transit point (The Gambia is nearby too), Mythical Manda is decidedly underwhelming. You can walk along a few open air eateries on either side of the roundabout (follow the roads to the left and the right and the place peters out quickly). There’s tea, cold Coke at the petrol station, some fruit stalls at a small market just across from the taxis, a remarkably clean toilet at the back of another eatery – and remarkably little shade for a place where the sun now beats down on my uncovered head without the tiniest shred of mercy.

No hats for sale here either. Time to get back to the taxi. How many more to go?

‘Seven.’

Alright. Back to the market for a little “brochette”. A taste of things to come because if there is one thing I adore about Guinea it’s the meat sandwich. Small pieces of well-cooked meat, spices, bits of tomato and paprika all wrapped up in a freshly-baked “baguette”. Now for a beer! Ah well…forget it.

As I’m eating my sandwich, an unusual creature bounces through the market. Youngish white guy, bicycle, slippers, shorts, multicolour shirt, happy, speaking the local language, cracking in-family jokes and totally ignoring me.

Which I can understand. I’m not part of the occidental flotsam and jetsam deposited in these vast and welcoming lands. Up and down the continent, you can feast your eyes on near-naturalised Westerners happily floating about in this, the lovely warm baths of their large hospitable and demanding adopted families. I’m looking at him and imagine him forever bouncing about in Mythical Manda – and get an urgent impulse to run like hell…

Well at least I’ve got a ticket, as I tell Moussa when we meet in the shade of the petrol station and talk about his troubles with the trucks. ‘Oh those, no, they’re fine. It’s that nephew I’m worried about. His phone is still off. What the heck is he up to?’

I wander off to check on the taxi. How many more to go?

‘Six.’

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