February 15, 2005

Pin Pon ! Station Pompier, or the Ultimate Transport Issues (English version)

Last saturday, girls weekend out was planned. Program : beach, sleep, hanging out at the Bandia reserve on sunday morning.

I was particularly excited to go on this girly weekend because I felt it had been some time since I'd connected with my girl posse, and also because I felt the need to go out of Dakar.

Despite a slightly painful hangover, i made it downtown with the others, where a delegation (which I took part in) was dispatched to rent a car (funeral hearse-type) and driver, and to bring it back to pick up the rest of the group and the luggage.

Pompier station is at the highway's exit, between Downtown Dakar and what is known as the Medina. We make it there by cab. The moment the cab proceeds to the hearse parking lot, guys, wearing crappy dirty looking clothes and destroyed flip-flops start running after it, yelling to us "Where are you going ? Where are you going ? Saint-Louis ? Ziguinchor ? Mbour ?"

These scary looking dudes are actually "brokers", and their job is in fact to find customers and negociate cars. The parking lot is gross, and I'm wearing sandals. Something wet, brown, slippery and unidentified edges my toes. Friend n°1 and I look at each other with anxiety, while Friend n°2 strides decidedly on the turf on quest for a rentable car.

If your opinion is that cab negociation in Dakar is dreadful, never go to Station Pompier, you will simply die on the spot ! The fare considered acceptable would have been around 7.000Fcfa one-way trip, but nobody would go any lower than 13.000Fcfa. To make things more interesting, in the middle of the talks, Monsoon type rain (yes, you read right !) floods onto us.

Grrrrr.... It's been 5 months without rain, and the first rain we get has to be on a saturday morning, in the heart of price discussions ! We fled like our lives depended on it (more likely it was our health, that water was freakin cold) and hid under the tiniest shelter you'd ever seen with about 50 senegalese people who seemed to find quite amusing the 3 toubab girls fleeing the water ! Finally, we went back unsuccessful, to find Friend n°3 had managed to find and negociate some conventionnal cabs for the round trip. The transportation expense was double what we had been proposed at Pompier, and 4 times the original budget !

I didn't even think about it twice : it's raining, I have the hang-over from hell, it's expensive, and if i give up, they can resume their original budget by taking only one cab. So I kissed and hugged the girls, wished them an amazing weekend, and went to bed, without even an atom of regret !

No comments: