This has been a trip lacuna.
Holed up in a swanky villa, courtesy of birthday girl, aka, The Pillion, aka, Angelika Embacher-Rampat, accompanied by her children and a partner, we've had an indulgent, relaxed time (but see Breaking up... below).
Angelika is now living in a new decade of her life.
|Bianca, Dom, Angelika, Bryan|
Bianca and Bryan left last night and Dom flies back to the States this evening. Angelika has been in her element having her nearest and dearest around. And the change in tempo and chemistry has probably been a good thing for Pillion and Pilot, too.
Angelika and I will now move to a more modest, but still pleasant, hotel closer to the centre of Saly.
All this week I've been trying to get someone to take the bike off my hands and transport it home. I haven't succeeded yet and it's got under my skin.
I'm hoping for better news tomorrow. I'll be happier when it's done.
I don't mind paying a modest 'tourist surcharge' when I'm in a country in which my weekly income probably exceeds the local monthly wage. But I do mind being lied to, bullied, manipulated and generally disrespected in the attempt to rip me off.
|Stop and ride, Saly style|
My complaint is about the private-hire drivers. These are in smarter cars and do longer distances, such as into Dakar. You might hire one for the day. They're booked through an agency which agrees a fee. Then the driver uses every manoeuvre he knows to wring extra money from you. He needs more for fuel. It's always ten times his acutal usage. He needs more for tolls. He needs a separate fee for this or that journey for reasons known only to him. And he's aggressive in demanding it.
We're finding this behaviour in other aspects of the society, too.
It is starting to make me dislike being here.
But I did see a security guard carefully place a drunken tourist's phone and money back in his shoulder bag today before decanting him into a cab.
Thank you to everyone who has sent sentiments of support and encouragement recently. There are times when positive input is particularly welcome and this has been one.
We've sketched out a plan for our next couple of months. If it comes to fruition it will see us spend two more weeks here and in The Gambia, fly to Côte d'Ivoire and spend Christmas and new year there. Then a fortnight in Ghana and we'll sail home. Fifteen days on the briny to end the trip.
We're both looking forward to the new vibe.
On the street next to our villa...