It was Thursday and time to bid Saly farewell and head up north. Saint Louis, the former capital of Senegal was calling. I called Mamadou* and by the time I had checked out of my room, while settling down to the quick brekkie which Dominique had fixed for me, Mamadou showed up. With breakfast over, and we were on our way to Réserve de Bandia – an impromptu decision I made that morning after we couldn’t access it the previous day. Thankfully, it was a wise decision.
By midday, we were done and Mamadou dropped me off at la gare routière where I boarded a sept-place to Saint-Louis, via Thies. Saly had been so wonderful and I felt a tinge of sadness as I left. I sat next to a beautiful Senegalese, but we couldn’t say much because she didn’t speak much English. She had a lovely smile and seemed eager to help me. I remember when I needed to get airtime and she had to patiently wait to understand what I wanted through gestures and then explain to the vendor.
We were in Thies in about two hours and I felt sad to see her alight from the vehicle. Anyway, we moved on and didn’t get to Saint Louis until it was past 16:00hrs. I had called Diallo after buying airtime to ask if he had a contact in Saint Louis I could look out for. He had promised to get back to me, but his call had not come through by the time we got to the final stop in Saint Louis. I tried his number and it was not going through.
Stranded, I dragged my luggage to a nearby fuel station and met a woman there – she seemed liked the manager and thankfully, she spoke English. Diallo had recommended a place to me and I had also searched one out while in Saly, so I asked the woman how I could get to either of the places. She got a cab to take me to the one closest, which was on Saint Louis Island. Before I left, she gave me a piece of paper where she had scribbled her number so I could call her if I had any issue. Interestingly, her name was Mrs. Diallo.
We spent about 45mins in traffic on Pont Faidherbe as we crossed from the mainland to the island. The cab dropped me at the hotel which was situated by the banks of River Senegal, however I didn’t like the available room so I had to move on.
I got another cab and headed on to Hotel Djamarek on the peninsula. There was traffic again after the link bridge connecting island to peninsula on Rue Hydrobase. A lot of fish business is done in the area and several ice trucks were packed along the road, which already had bad portions probably damaged by frequent usage by those heavy-duty vehicles. Then the inevitable calèches who moved at their own pace.
I liked the ambience once I arrived, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and River Senegal on the other. I checked in and made my first friend in Saint Louis, Eumeuh who checked me in at the reception.
Pretty tired at this point, didn’t know what to do, so I tried Diallo’s number again. He picked and sent me the contact he promised, a guy called Adama. I called Adama to come over, so I could explore the night, but he made excuses and we rescheduled for the next day.