Walk, taxi, sept-place, taxi, sept-place, walk, taxi, ferry, taxi, reads Saint Louis to Bakau, just off Banjul. From the northernmost coastal point of Senegal to just outside the capital of Gambia, in about 11 hours, using public transport. I don't think faster could have been possible. And it's only 550km.
When getting out of our sept-place in Kaolack, halfway between Dakar and the Gambian border, we had to find a way onwards to get to Gambia. Already before our car had come to a halt, four guys had stuck their heads into the car, selling specifically us, not the other five passengers, their services. First ignoring them, getting out and getting our luggage from the back, I had to fight off several of them who tried to appropriate our bags. Not to steal them, but to carry them off to their taxi.
Then, trying to make sense of our options, I had close to a dozen guys standing around me, all telling me, with raised voices, in French, at the same time, what it was that we needed to do, several of them constantly touching me to get my attention.
When I slowly started to understand we had to get to another gare, one which turned out to feel like a place where everyone was trying to run away from the apocalypse, hundreds of cars and mini busses preparing to leave at the same time, disorderly arranged, most strapping luggage to their roofs and many going to the same destination, all, at the same time, waiting to fill up, a policeman intervened, silenced the crowd and helped us to abstract sense from the nonsense.
We got a taxi across town and were off.
At our next stop, the border crossing itself, a similar thing happened, but now with a group of women all wanting to change my CFA into Dalasi, the Gambian currency.
Then, after crossing the Gambia river on the ferry, we were reverse racially profiled, when all the whities on the ferry were taken apart for drugs inspections. Bend over.