Dakar – Dalaba (same Sunday)

[Naaa. Still not bothering with another map…]

Moussa has finally located his nephew. ‘He’s on his way here now. Says he  was in a hotel,’ Moussa says, ‘after drinking. He says his phone was out and he had to recharge it. You know what we call a mobile phone, right? La boîte à mentir (the lying box)…’

The young fellow turns out exactly how I imagined him to be. Smartly dressed, sunglasses perched in hair above forehead (yes, that incomprehensible fashion statement has made its way here too), mobile phone with music plugged in. He swaggers towards the petrol station, which has become one of my five ports of call – eatery across the street, market, toilet and of course the taxi (How many to go? ‘Four.’). And he really, honestly, truly does not understand why his uncle is making such a fuss about a night out and a switched off phone. ‘I was enjoying myself!’ And to me: ‘Next time, you should come too.’

Moussa’s double mission is complete. He has found his wayward nephew and is busy reporting this to a few key members (all female, naturally) of his extended family. He then bids farewell; he’ll take his precious lorries across the border now.

Ah, yes, the border. We were going to Guinea, after all.

‘How many to go, my dear friends?’

‘Only one.’

Well, progress has certainly been made and so has the day. The heat has subsided somewhat but that last passenger takes his time to somehow emerge from among the Sept Places and buses that have been pouring into Manda from all directions in the course of this long, long Sunday.

Late afternoon and all the right signs are there. That is, a two storey high pile of luggage on the roof of the Neuf Places (well, eight this time – I bought two seats, remember…), the driver and his helpers are securing ropes around the bags, trolleys, sacks and boxes and then adding that great Guinean innovation: a large and stubborn net. Mesh meets possessions.

And leaves said possessions. Something needs to be re-arranged. But by the time the sun is setting we all pile into the Peugeot. Music on, and with a flourish the driver takes his leave of the parking space. Round the roundabout and it’s bye bye Manda!

Two hundred metres down the road – we haven’t even reached the toilet yet – and we stop. Then I notice we have a missing passenger. ‘He’s left something in the house,’ someone says. And he takes his sweet time coming back with whatever it is he’s forgotten. Let’s hope it is not a big bag – otherwise the net will come off and the whole re-arranging ballet will begin again.

It is big.

It is pitch dark when we leave this particular end of the arse of the end of the world behind. Next stop…Labé??

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