12-Jan-2006 -- Since the first time we visited this web site last summer, we knew that 15N 15W had to be "our" confluence point. When Klaus had to do business in Senegal, we decided to go along for 15N 15W. But our first try ended up because we misjudged the distance. Starting in Somone, which is at the west coast of Senegal between Dakar and Mbour, there were 230 km (linear distance) to go to reach 15N 15W. Judging by the street maps we had, at least a few dirt roads should bring us near to our goal. After 3 hours we had reached Touba and still had more than 100 km to go, and only two more hours of daylight. So we decided to return and try on another day.
This time we started early. Aba, a Senegalese friend of us, asked for some "shortcuts" to get us as close to 15N 15W as possible by using paved roads. After 15 km the paved road ended abruptly, but after our first experience we decided to use the next dirt road and head into the direction the GPS indicated: 71 km to go... The "roads" got worse every km we got nearer and finally, there were no further tracks, roads, or whatever. Now the adventure began... At least that was what we thought at this time. The next 15 km we drove through an area with mainly sandy underground with a few Baobab trees and several sorts of bushes about 1 to 2 meters high. The only life we saw was goats, donkeys, birds, and big (about 10 cm) grasshoppers. We got along with an average speed of 10 km/h, and were already pretty worried about the time. But at this point we were lucky and finally reached a dirt trail that allowed us to proceed a little bit faster, passing little "villages" with a few huts, no electricity, and no mobile phone contact! Those trails brought us zigzagging near 15N 15W, and finally we had to leave them again to get to the point, which we finally reached at 6 p.m., one hour before sunset, being very relieved and happy that "We made it..."
But what had started as a very successful day pretty soon became a little more adventurous than we had actually planned. We had a flat tire, in the middle of nowhere certainly after sunset. But we were lucky, it was pretty close to full moon. We searched the car for some tools to change the tire. There were hardly any, and the ones we found were not useful. Not even a carjack... What to do now? We tried to go on with the flat tire, passing a "village" without lights and no people visible.
2 km later the tire came partly off and we couldn't go any further. After several unsuccessful tries to loosen the spare tire, three of us went to find a "village" in order to get help. They returned by "hippo mobile" which is a common medium of transport in Senegal, meaning a carriage drawn by a horse or donkey. They brought some tools and 4 "Schwatte" (Aba, our Senegalese friend who lives in Germany always calls his compatriots "Schwatte", having his own lovable accent and cheerful personality) for help. The tools again weren't helpful, so they went to the next village to get more tools and "Schwatte". Now there were 6 "Schwatte" and finally a spider wrench. It still took another hour to loosen the tire screws and change the tire. It seemed like the screws had been on there for years, we could hardly get them off. We still had no carjack, instead they used some roots placed under the front axle and then freed the tire by digging a hole around.
We finally made it after 2 and a half hours. Supi!!! Back on the "road"! Reaching Thiès at 1:30 a.m. we were looking for an open filling station, because we ran out of fuel. But every filling station was closed, even the ones with 24 h / 7/7 j. Well, we were all very tired and exhausted and took our chance. Luck was on our side again... we made it home at 3:00 a.m. What a day! 620 km for the whole trip... 15N 15W is ours!!!