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November 25, 2012 / samwilson60

Mamou

It was a slightly less peaceful night than our first in Dalaba, camped as we were just a few metres from the hotel’s generator during a power cut and – in Sam’s case – tormented once again by what we now believe to be peanut-butter poisoning. The morning brought respite from both but with Sam clearly still not 100%, we opted for a gentle pootle as far as Mamou, via the Lac de Baffing.

 

The road was tarmac and the tarmac was still intact in parts. What’s more, the lake was signposted (ish), so we stopped off to admire the view and have a brew, before nipping through Mamou to the forestry school on the other side. The guide book had suggested they rent rooms for the night and it sounded like our best chance of a good night’s sleep. In fact, it was quite a bustling place but the grounds were lovely and the staff, students and visiting officials likewise. They even said there would be no charge for camping in our own tent – a very nice touch, even though we knew we’d donate something.

The seminar participants shared their lunch with us and the staff gave us some info on where to find internet access. As it was still early, we decided to pop into town and found the internet café with no more than the usual bother (get to a junction, ask for directions, get to next junction, do same, repeat three times and you’re there). We were told we’d have to come back in an hour or so, so to pass the time, and try to find some shade, we drove around looking for someone who might be able to help with our winch repairs. As in Dalaba, this amounted to pulling out one of our über tent pegs and asking for something just as strong but 3mm thinner, and as in Dalaba, the first guy we asked scurried off and came back with almost the ticket. But again, it was a near miss. This latest mechanic, however (who it later transpired is the older brother of the forestry school’s director), wouldn’t give up that easily. With the help of some chalk and lots of scribbles, we explained in more detail what we required and agreed that to turn down the actual tent peg to the required size would not only be an acceptable alternative, but a better solution all round. Our first port of call with our friendly mechanic – whose chalk skills are better suited to diagrams than world maps – filled us with hope when we saw the lathe but was sadly a no-goer. The other lathe in town was a drive away, which with the mechanic and the pair of us was a squeeze. He assured us it was no problem, it was the number of people you’re insured to carry that mattered here, not the number of seats you had with which to do so. Loath to tell him we were probably not insured for any more than the standard one per seat, we could have done without him pointing out the local douane (customs post, where they invariably stop us to trawl through every car document we have). We didn’t get pulled over but nor did we find our solution. Back at his workshop, the only option that remained was to laboriously grind down our tent peg – a task made only more laborious by the intermittent power supply. We left two pegs with him and agreed to come back in the morning.

We headed back to the mechanic’s via the internet café and agreed that it was worth taking our time in Mamou, if only to get a few photos uploaded and some more parts for the Tinker Beast. Our tent pegs were almost perfect, but still required some sanding down, which we did in the shade of the forest the far side of town, while picking out photos for the blog. All set, we headed back to the internet café, just in time to take shelter from the most amazing storm. Shutters swiftly came down, the power went off and everyone hid, except the stupid tourists that had left the car windows ajar. Doh! Half an hour later, it was as if nothing had happened – if you ignored the puddles we’d created on the floor of the internet café and the sudden cleanliness of our car.

Once the power had returned and the internet ground to a halt again under the strain of all our uploading, we headed back to our friendly forestry school, where everyone was alarmingly pleased to see we were staying another day. We managed to politely duck all the invites for a night on the tiles (a must at some point, but for now we’re too attached to the early nights) and settled in for a last sleep at altitude – the only way out of the Fouta was down and with that came the prospect of yet more stifling heat.

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