Saturday, 31 January 2009

Persistent Policemen

We set off early to give ourselves time to get across the Senegal border and to Zebrabar before sunset not realising two things, firstly, how far Diama (the border) was, and secondly, how bad the road would be to get there. On the plus side, the road was through a national park so there was lots to look at, and because it was so bad it was a very quiet border.

No real issues getting to the border other than a policeman taking a shine to our camping chairs and demanding one - fortunately he took a firm 'no' for an answer. We like our chairs! We also had a guy from the national park requesting 20 Euros in park fees. I noticed the sign behind him saying the price was 1000 Ouguiya (just over 3 Euros each), so he didn't persist either.

The police at the border were a different matter altogether. Constant requests for 10 Euros from every policeman we spoke to. Requests for receipts and even names met with a firm "no, we're the police, everyone else has paid". Eventually, threats to phone the embassy to verify the additional charges, and when that wasn't working, getting out the satellite phone seemed to work and we were waved through.

So, Senegal at last, and on to Zebrabar for a few days relaxation. A few more hassle free police stops, one guy just wanted to chat, and we were through St. Louis. Just leaving town we were pulled over. The policeman told us we had to pay a fine as we didn't indicate when he pulled us over. This rapidly changed into a fine for driving too fast as he realised the indicator was still flashing. Much arguing followed -
"How fast were we going?"
"Too fast"
"But what speed?"
"Excessive speed"
"What's excessive speed"
"Too fast"
And on and on and on the conversation went. Anyway, driving license and insurance documents were soon confiscated. He eventually backed down and returned documents when we demanded to go to the police station in town rather than deal with the "infraction" in his little office. I really don't think "Too fast" would have stood up in court anyway.

So after that moderately traumatic day we felt we deserved a few days relaxation. (relaxation for Hannah, checking over the whole car for me).


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