After all the formalities were settled down the previous day, the Team was ready to hit the road again and finally cross the border between Mauritania and Senegal, the last country on the scout tour and the first of the record run. But the border was a few hours drive away from Nouakchott. Once on the move I started to get more involved into the filming process, capturing some routine life moments and something unusual, like huge old Mercedes trucks just outside the capital. They were all standing in rows like on exposition. Our presence brought a lot of attention from the locals and among them was the guy that sold bread. I've got to say that this baguette is better than what is served in most of the restaurants. It was delicious.
The further we went into the desert the more the road became worse. From time to time the asphalt just disappeared and you end up on a shaky gravel path. On the other hand these spots allowed us to discover that in Mauritania road workers include sea shells into the body of tarmac. They are everywhere since the territory we were driving through was the bottom of the ocean in ancient times. The last 50 kilometers to the border are considered to be the toughest of all 8000 km of our record run. The car will have to sustain endless vibrations generated by the road surface and the speed we'll try to maintain.
I've crossed many borders in numerous countries but I've never seen anything quite like the one between Mauritania and Senegal. Probably it's the only one where I could operate the barrier that's blocking the road on the way to neutral zone by myself. Luckily, our local helper Idoumou was still escorting us and helped to negotiate the necessary formalities. It would be too corny to say that the crossing of the artificial channel between two countries is like black & white, but it's the truth and you feel it instantly. Customs officials look and behave much more formal and the road is paved again. To the great pleasure of the team, just outside the border control station, our good friend Jan-Jacque was waiting to greet us.
The sun was already setting when we began to cover the first kilometers through Senegal. Even though we just had to reach small city of Saint Louis, there was still work for me to be done. The only road that leads from the border to Dakar through Saint Louis is packed with speed bumps. They're not the small ones like in Russia. These are huge trampolines that can finish our run instantly if attacked at full speed. That's why we have decided to mark them all on the map, to be aware and ready to slow down in time. Looking ahead, I’ll hint you that on the distance of over 350 kilometers there are more than 80 speed bumps. Usually they are installed on the entrance and exit of the villages and most of them are complemented with warning signs, but there are a few that jump out of nowhere.
Day 12 was very long and exhausting, just like this post, and the finish in Saint Louis was a true reward. A Large village well-known for its fishermen and their catchy boats, but also for a small island located between two banks of the river. It's like a completely different time and place. French colonial-styled houses are part of acknowledged global heritage protected by UNESCO and awake the images of New Orleans in your imagination. The rhythm, sounds and smell are so different from what happens in the other parts of the village. We parked our Volkswagen Amarok near the entrance of the hotel Residence that would provide us a shelter for the night. Climbing the stairs to the suite felt like I was the hero of some French movie from the 70's with Alain Delon. You feel that these walls have seen a lot of stories unfold and they know a secret or two. Tomorrow we will finally reach Dakar – finishing point for the Scout Tour and starting location of our Record Run to Moscow.
Author: Georgy Golubev