So, we finally crossed our last border and arrived in Senegal. Only a small river separes Mauritania and Senegal. A small river and an enormous amount of administrative procedures. We spent at least an hour and a half on the Mauritanian side and two hours and a half on the Senegalese side of the river. Some of us always stayed by the car because there was permanently alot of people around us. Actually the border, especially on the Senegalese side, turned out to be the first stop for many young men on their way to Europe. They came from all over the country were cleaning cars, selling sun glasses or just trying to be accepted as guide for the newly arrived to have some coins in their pockets. The goal? Spain. Having made all the trip (in the opposite direction) and seen so many of these young men struggling on all the different stops (including in Ceuta – and in Europe) we just wanted to tell them not to go and risk their lives. But once again, coming from Europe with a nice and fully packed car, it was difficult to say more than: Don’t take the fishing boats. Don’t risk your lives. You may well lose all the little money you have saved for nothing. You may well be stuck without money and not be able to go back. When Sousou was going to pay one of them who had helped cleaning the car (very much needed!) he said he could accept euro coins even if he couldn’t change them to the CFA francs in the bank. “I collect them for the day I arrive in Spain”.
St Louis received us with sabar drums for the holiday of tamxarit. It is the night when girls dressed as boys and boys as girls move from house to house dancing and playing on whatever available hoping to have some money. The tradition is called Tadiabone and was very much celebrated in St Louis. The streets were full of people of all ages going Tadiabone. Most of us were quite exhausted and didn’t have the force to do much more than to have chere (couscous made of millet with a sauce– eaten all over the country on tamxarit). Karin went out in the night to take some pictures in the streets which you will be able to see here within shortly.
The next day we met up with the Senegalese writer Boubacar Boris Diop. Karin spent the whole morning with him and received from him a photo/text book about mothers and wives waiting for their sons and husbands who have gone off with boats to Europe. Very thoughtful after all the experiences on the road.
It feels incredible to be in Senegal. Even though we have been travelling with this objective for so long, it is still unbelievable to be here. Have we really travelled all the way from Sweden? A jangfata de!