The Fat Kid Diaries: Week 64. Nothing luckier than being hit by a bus.

2 days after proudly explaining to the Senegalese press how I’d successfully negotiated Nigeria’s infamous traffic, and that I didn’t believe it could get any more hair raising than that, I was promptly side swiped by my first bus of the expedition in northern Senegal. ..and I couldn’t have been any luckier. Not only did I escape with nothing more than a few scrapes, bruises, and dare I say a little shock, but it forced a slight change of route which lead to discovering one of the most inspiring African success stories of the entire journey to date.


This bus encounter was sandwiched between wonderful weekends in Dakar and Nouakchott, exploring 2 interesting cities, meeting fascinating people, and enjoying some wonderful cycling conditions in my last week in Sub Saharan Africa. 


I’m thoroughly looking forward to entering the Sahara proper tomorrow, the simple desert routine of ride-eat-sleep, and a big 3 week or so push to central Morocco…comms may be difficult, so please don’t expect any regular weekly diaries or updates for the next while!

Ending: Sat 20 Sept 2014
Starting point: Dakar, Senegal

Ending point: Nouakchott, Mauritania (country 41)
Approx. Km’s covered: 520km

Some selected highlights:

  1. Meeting Richard Belcher, and Rob, Emily, Sam and the rest of his team, at West Africa Farms, northern Senegal…definitely one of the most inspiring stories of what is possible in Africa that I have ever encountered.
  2. Lettie and I escaping from our bus encounter in one piece, and the genuine concern of all 60+ bus passengers (including a very shocked and sheepish driver) at our wellbeing…and the free ride it earned us to the next town to clean up and double check all was in fact in order!
  3. Reaching the Sahara proper…incredible beauty and such a distinctive and sudden change from sub tropical West Africa. 
  4. The hospitality of Pieter and Diedre Bester in Dakar, the home cooked meals and wonderful evenings of conversation and friendship. 
  5. Exploring Dakar (including Isle De Goree) and Nouakchott…by foot, bike and air conditioned comfort.
  6. Camping in the desert. 
  7. It’s a small world…after being kindly hosted by the wonderful folk of Fathala Reserve last week, meeting Willem, George and many of the rest of the Fathala team that I hadn’t yet met, in Dakar this week.
  8. The warm and kind welcome by Ambassador Shilubane, Ms Thobeka Dlamini, and the rest of the team at the SA Embassy in Dakar.
  9. And very much the same too from Ambassador Spies, and his staff at the SA Embassy in Nouakchott.
  10. The privilage of being hosted (and served breakfast!) by Ambassador Spies at his residency in Nouakchott, and sharing wonderful meals, fascinating stories, a very eclectic music collection, a tour of Nouakchott, and much laughter with this true gentleman, and and one of the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.  

Some challenges:

  1. For a split second dealing with the thought “wouldn’t this be such a sad way for Lettie’s Ride to end” that came into my head as a certain Dakar to Louga bus pulled across a little over eagerly while trying to pass.
  2. Saying goodbye to so many new friends.
  3. Actually getting into Mauritania through it’s infamous Rosso border crossing…patience testing to say the least!
  4. Trying not to worry or concern myself now with the road that lies ahead in a few months time in Algeria and Libya with all the dire warnings and bad news coming out of that region…there’s plenty to enjoy and look forward to on this journey before then!
  5. Dealing with the traffic leaving Dakar city.
  6. Coming up with creative new ‘professions’ when completing the seemingly never ending stream of forms to be completed at borders, check points etc…my rule is that I can never use the same one twice…if nothing else, my CV after this expedition will be extensive to say the least!

African #HumanSpirit moment of the week:

  1. Africans proving what’s possible in Africa…turning a piece of wild savannah in northern Senegal into one of the most incredible farms imaginable – the Human Spirit personified! 

Particular thanks to (as always, in no particular order, and apologies for the inevitable omissions):

  1. Pieter and Diedre Bester for opening your home to the Fat Kid in Dakar, and your warmth and generosity as mentioned above.
  2. Ambassador Shilubane, Ms Thobeka Dlamini, and the rest of the team at the SA Embassy in Dakar for the warm welcome and PR opportunity! 
  3. Richard Belcher for the hospitality, home cooked meals, and tour of the farm, Rob and Emily for rescuing a Fat Kid in distress, and everyone else at West Africa Farms.
  4. Ambassador Spies for everything in Nouakchott as detailed earlier…and the single malt!
  5. Saadbouh for the insider’s tour of Nouakchott, and all your smiling help in general.
  6. Redouane Ouellaj, country manager of DHL Mauritania, for all the advice and insight into the route ahead, particularly in Morocco, and your hospitality too.
  7. Steph and Zach, and the Unlimited team for all your support.
  8. Christof and Jonas, my new German friends, for your company at the border and help into Nouakchott. 

Something random I learnt (aka a FFF or ‘Fascinating FatKid Fact’):

  1. Probably the week in which I learnt more than in any of the previous 63 weeks of the expedition…but the random selection goes to the fact that the disputed region of Western Sahara, was once called Spanish West Africa, and one of only 2 Spanish colonies in Africa; the other being Equatorial Guinea. 

What I will try never take for granted again:

  1. Music…incredible how one night completely changed the way I look at/listen to music.

Keep in touch:
Twitter @RonRutland


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