Tuesday, January 03, 2006


While in Kaolack, my transportation has consisted of my feet, my bike and taxi’s most of which seem like they might fall apart at any moment. With the taxis, there is a choice of weather you want a regular taxi that will take you exactly where you want to go for 500 CFA (~$1) or route taxis that you share with other people and go to the various garages and markets around town for 100 CFA per person. In the route taxis – normal European car size, they normally have 3 people in back and cram 2 people, in addition to the driver in the front.

To get to Sokone I went to one of the garages (a lot where all the public transport to various parts of the region/country can be found, along with hordes of people venders selling food, clothes and other junk that no one really needs. I soon found myself surrounded by people who wanted to sell me something, kids (talibes) who wanted me to give them money and a couple people trying to help me (I think) find a vehicle going where I wanted to go. After about 15 minutes of complete chaos I found a sept-place, sept as in 7 in French. These are sort of like mini-station wagons and have two rows of seats in addition to the driver and front passenger seats. With three in each of the back rows that’s 7 not including the driver. This can be somewhat uncomfortable but is usually the best option. The trip to Sokone, which took a little under an hour, cost 800 CFA per person.

The road between Kaolack and Sokone appears to be decent, but appearances can be deceiving. Because of the potholes, the driver spent about the same about of time off the road as he did on it. When we were on the road we were usually swerving to avoid a pothole or another vehicle that was attempting to avoid a pothole, or a herd of longhorns crossing the road.

While in Sokone we decided to take a charette to Paul’s village. Think of a wooden flat bed with two wheels pulled by equine animal of choice. This is where we weren’t being very smart. There were 5 of us and we decided to take a donkey charette because there wasn’t a horse drawn one around. The poor animal was going so slow because of the weight and because of the mud and sand path we had to go on, that we really could’ve walked much faster, so we took turns walking next to the charette.

To get back to Kaolack, we took a mini-car, also known as an Alham, short for Alhamdulilah – Arabic for praise God. They are called this because most of them have the word painted somewhere on it. This vehicle is kind of like a small bus and has about 6 or 7 benches in it that can each fit 3 or even 4 people somewhat comfortably, but always have 5 people squeezing onto each bench. Alhams will stop for anyone on the side of the road as long as there is an inch of room inside or on top so they can be somewhat slow.

Final note on transport – it’s not unusual to see live animals strapped to the top of any of the aforementioned vehicles – oftentimes screaming bloody murder. Shocking at first but pretty funny later.

No comments:

Post a Comment