Crossing the Border and Peul hospitality

Our journey cycling from Maliville, Guinea to Dindefelo,Senegal redefines the term “death march”. At 8 am we left the Auberge Indigo heading north.In the beginning the road descending off the Fouta Djalon Plateau was fairly easy, intermittently sandy, gravely and smooth then volcanic rocky sections. We past through a few small villages as we decended in steps down the mountain. Then we saw no villages. An hour past and no one was seen any where. The track became steeper and looser with broken rocks and babyhead rock gardens. We were told this was the “International Route” and possible to cross the border in one day on bikes. This road or track showed no vehicle tracks, only foot prints and maybe a moto track. It soon became steeper yet and over grown with tall grasses. We dropped about 1500 feet in elevation on this track that wound through forested areas with bamboo and giant termite hills then open savannah then back into the woods again. More rocky decents that I would consider to be intermediate technical mountain biking. Only we had about 35 pounds on the back of the bikes. My rear rim had been smashed on the conveyor belt at the airport and we rebuilt the wheel in Kindia. Only the hub had 32 spokes and the new steel rim has 28. Truing the wheel perfectly was not possible rendering my rear brake almost unusable. I got off and walked the worst rock sections while Greg, less risk adverse, rode the rock ledge drops and broken rock sections. Several river crossings, pea gravel, sand sections and brief downhills later it was 5 pm and two hours of day light left and no border in sight. We ran out of water and had to ask at a village to draw water from their well which they graciously did. We were being bitten by deer flies and army ants that I stepped into at a river crossing so we slathered on DEET and continued to push on in hopes of hitting the main road. Fifteen minutes before darkness we came to a Peul village. We were not going any further. We entered the fenceline of the village compound and asked two young men if we could stay there for the night and if they had any food. They responded affirmatively and showed us the way to their hut which was a traditional adobe and rattan round Peul hut with a rattan porch area with bamboo beds. The Diallo brohers gave up their hut, about 15 feet diameter, with a full size bed and fonio straw mattress on one side and two stacks of 100 lb. bags of peanuts to the roof line on the other. They had no food but made some powerful boiled green tea with lots of sugar for us. We gratefully accepted a bucket of water to wash off the sweat, dust and DEET and fell asleep after eating the last of our cookies, one Vache Qui Rie and a Clif Bar. That is Peul hospitality. On Djarama Bwe. When morning came we found that we were at the village on the border and had to have our visas signed to exit and fifty feet beyond there we had to go through customs. We were at last in Senegal.

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