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Senegalese border hell - part 2

posted Feb 5, 2013, 5:30 PM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 1:14 PM ]
Despite bribing Mauritanian border control, customs, as well as the captain of the ferry, it took us 8 hours to exit from Mauritania, cross the Senegal river, and to enter into Senegal.

Our passports were collected and taken to ??? (no idea where and for what) several times by strange looking not really trustworthy guys, once they were returned by throwing them on the ground. Pick your own. We all found ours except Milos. After some discussion we learned that his passport was not accidentially taken by somebody else, but there was something wrong with it. We had to to the border control officer who explained us that his visa was not valid. He asked where Milos got it (this he could have read from the visa too) and then explained that he has never seen such a visa before and that he suspected it was a fake. Finally he released us, we did not even have to give him cadeau. Lesson learned: you can enter Mauritania with a "fake" visa without any problem, but leaving it is difficult.

By that time we had been waiting for 4 hours and I was charging laptop, GPS, cameras etc. while the engine was not running. When our ferry arrived (of course one of the two ferries was out of order), cars from 3 queues started to chase the few places on it, but Baby Beast's battery was empty. If jump starting a car was an olympic discipline, we'd be gold medalists now, in around 30 seconds we found the banana box with the jump leads, started the engine, and returned everything into the trunk.

The mess continued on the other side of the river. The ferry has not reached the port yet, children jumped over and started to agressively ask for cadeau. We had to pay 20 EUR per car for a piece of paper with the car's registration number and the name of the registration holder on it (handwritten) and then queue in front of a building to get our passports. Inside the building there were 3 border control guys sitting at a table. On one side of the table there was a big pile of passports. On the other side there as a big black book. One of the guys was drawing lines into the book with a ruler. The second guy handed him our passports one by one and they copied all our personal data into the black book. The 3rd guy was watching the scene but did not do anything meaningful. The whole procedure took around 1 minute per passport. We were 300 people there...

Some of the teams did not get their handwritten car papers, they were told to wait until tomorrow.
Once we had our passports and car papers back, at 9pm, we were allowed to leave. We paid for parking (!!!) and then the gates were opened. Nobody checked our passports nor the car papers. We could have entered Senegal without documents or could have smuggled anybody into the country. Crazy.

The only positive experience of the border crossing was one young boy from Mali who got stuck at the border because he did not have enough money for the Mauritanian visa. He did not ask for cadeau (like the other 100 boys around) but offered to wash our car for 1000CFA (=1.5 EUR). Baby Beast is shining like new now, and I gave the boy 2000CFA for his perfect service.

The camp was another 100km away, along a narrow potholed road with plenty of unlit objects (garbage, broken down cars, donkeys, and last but not least all the children of the villages). Welcome to sub-saharan Africa!

Senegalese car import document

Senegalese border control