Africa | Senegal – Sunday afternoon driving……….

Africa | Senegal – Sunday afternoon driving……….

Can anyone believe it – that rusting, mechanically and structurally unsound oil
drinking tub has actually got us now as far as Senegal with now only about
500kms to go before we hit our final destination????

So, how have we done?

The first morning (Boxing Day) we had to start by push-starting the car off the
driveway. Not the most auspicious of starts. We then made it 10kms to Dulwich
before the brakes seized up – it was at this point that the grim realisation of
having done next to no preparation actually hit us. However after about an
hour they released their grip on the Yellow Peril and we continued on down to
Dover – Phew, managed to get out of England without any MOT or road tax! Which
of you dis-believers said we would never make it to Dover??

We had to get pushed off the ferry at Boulogne (backwards) – a little
humiliating – but with the help of some ferry workers replaced the
disintegrated air filter, cleaned a few of the leads and points and we were off
again, this time for about a further 6kms before the car packed up again – the
French breakdown service is fantastic arriving in 25 minutes and discovering we
had snapped our alternator drive belt. Not much you can do about that on
Boxing Day so towed the car to a Citroen garage and got it repaired the
following day. (For those of you thinking, bloody hell, this is going to be a
long email, that was just day 1 – don’t worry, I’ll skip some bits!!)

But that was a bit of a pattern for the next 3 days – an absolute rollercoaster
ride of emotions as we broke down and then got it working again – in reality,
WE didn’t get much working again, it was more the Yellow Peril being a
temperamental old bitch who decided when she wanted to go and when she wanted
to rest……

For example, 200 yards from the Citroen garage in Boulogne she decided once
again to seize her brakes – we had a little chat with her and within 15 minutes
she decided to let go but then decides not to brake for the whole length of
France (the poor French thing must have been in some pretty disturbing abusive
relationship before she arrived on our kind English shores to want to get
through the country so quickly). So for about 1500kms it was impossible to
relax as we drove the entire length of France just using the gears and the hand
brake to slow us down, around the Parisian Peripherique, through the snow over
the Massif Central, across the awesome new bridge at Millau, running red lights
in Narbonne and careering across all the roundabouts. Amazingly, once we hit
Spain she decided to give us back a little occasional braking as long as we
pumped hard and fast.

Reaching the border of Spain, the oil light came on once again, but the car
needed no oil – no garage could fit us in for a week so Chris and I took the
decision to run her until she seized up, convinced she was dying and the end of
our rally was close – the oil light is still permanently on 5000kms later!!

Gaffer tape……. what a great product – Yellow Peril is now held together by
it, the side panels are taped together with it – the Spanish gales were a bit
strong for her, the wood in the footwells is stuck down with it – doesn’t quite
keep all the sand out but hey…., the air filter is sealed with it, the splits
in the air ducts are held with it, even the bonnet is held down by it (after
the bonnet latch snapped at 80km/h as we were driving along a Mauritanian beach
and smashed against our windscreen!!)

We’ve managed to bribe our way through the length of West Africa, giving
T-shirts and baseball caps away to any police and customs officials who tried
to slow us down, we had a fantastic New Year’s Eve partying in Marrakech, we’ve
successfully driven through a minefield in Mauritania, we’ve spent 3 days
driving, sliding and digging ourselves out (and being towed out)of the Sahara
desert, sleeping under the stars, on the top of sand dunes, we’ve towed each
other behind the Yellow Peril on our snowboards through parts of the Sahara and
in the shallows of the beaches in Southern Mauritania, we’ve sandboarded down
big sand dunes, we’ve learnt a little about how an engine works, we’ve stripped
down our carburettor and rebuilt it, we’ve raised the suspension, we’ve fitted
a new coil, we’ve learnt that a car can easily cope with the usual 25 microns
that normal sand is, but the dusty 10 microns that is parts of the Sahara will
slowly kill your car, I’ve learnt that drivin! g for 8 hours through the night
will undoubtedly end in a crash (in the early hours of yesterday morning as we
were making a dash for the Mauritanian – Senagalese border, I managed to impail
the Yellow Peril on an iron girder ending with her wheels dangling in the air –
luckily the sump guard held out and a few of us managed to lift her off without
any damage, we’ve learnt that if you give one cute kid a pen, then the whole
village of kids will suddenly materialise, jump all over your car and demand a
‘cadeau’, we’ve met a great bunch of people and shared some unforgettable
moments and we’ve realised that doing all this in such a quirky knackered old
car is so much more fun and more of an adventure than some of the other
air-conditioned, 4-wheel drive, ‘reliable’ cars on the rally. For the last
week we’ve been in a convoy of seven cars – 2 of those were 4WD and they’ve
died in the desert!! Every single car has had massive problems and even the
remaining 500kms! on tarmac (albeit badly potholed tarmac) will be a test for
all of them. Yellow Peril has had a sex change on the way, starting out with a
high-pitched whine now trundling along with a deep-throated grumble and
backfiring every time we change gear. Yesterday her brakes failed again but
this time so did her hand brake – it’s amazing how a pair of Muji flip flops on
the end of my feet hanging out the passenger door will bring the car to a halt
at a junction!!

What a fantastic time we’re having and it’s only the 12th January – I’ve got
another two and a half months of this!!!

500kms to go to Banjul before we find out how much the Yellow Peril will sell
for and then back to Senegal for a week or so before heading to Mali, Burkina
Faso and Ghana. Should be back in the UK some time at the beginning of Feb
before the next part of the adventure.

Category : Africa | Senegal , Uncategorized