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LocalBitcoins’ Motorcycle Trek Through Africa: Mauritania to Senegal
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I’ve gotten in touch with Borja part-way into his trek throughAfrica. He has recently crossed the Mauritanian border and is currently in Senegal.
Mauritania is situated on the Western coast of Africa and is often confused with the island east of Madagascar named Mauritius which is the home of a former Bitcoin Foundation Board candidate named Nilam Doctor.
Crossing so many country borders in a short amount of time puts Borja and Elvis in the crosshairs of those who demand bribes before leaving a country. Borja recently sent this message.
“The border was hell. We spent lot of time dealing with many corrupt policemen asking for money. In the Mauritanian part of the river, 10km before we arrived in Rosso, the usual police controls started to be different, and all of them were saying. ‘Do you know someone in the border?’”
A character named David would call those requesting the bribe and falsely claim to know Borja. When David came to allow them to leave, he requested fees for his service.
“In the last control they were trying to scare us saying that we didn’t stop in the correct place, and they were going to fine us. They took me to the police station saying that I was recording with a GoPro (video camera) even though I wasn’t. They took our driving licences asked for 88 euros from both of us. We tried to negotiate a bit, but it was very difficult as the police gave our papers to David. After all this, David appeared and ‘saved us’ just to ask us for money.
At least we were in the boat that crossed us with the bikes to Senegal, but in the Senegal border the same thing happened. The guy [at the border] asked me if I wanted to pay to the police. He said that if I didn’t pay, it could take hours to cross. There was a Japanese guy who had been waiting at the border for 5 days.
I said i didn’t want to pay, but he misunderstood and thought I wanted to pay a lot. After a while, he was asking again for around 200 euros, we had to negotiate with him for 2h under the sun.
They only wanted or local currency or euro. They never wanted USD. They didn’t know (yet) about Bitcoin.”
Some crossings demanded euros. Other crossings demanded time, as herds of camels passed over the solitary desert roads making night time travel cumbersome.
“The road was full of animals crossing, I don’t recommend doing this at night. We are now in Saint-Louis, a very beautiful island with many colonial buildings from the French colonization. Tomorrow, we should be in Dakar! Home of the famous pink lake, that was the arrival of the Race Paris-Dakar.”
This pink lake is named Lake Retba and gets it’s color from the algae reacting to the sunlight. Borja and Elvis eventually left the desert region and entered into what seemed like a paradise.
“Yesterday we crossed from Mauritania to Senegal, WHAT A CHANGE!! You can see trees here!! This is amazing after lots of days only seeing dessert. : ) It’s crazy how it changed from the dunes to rice plantations in 200 meters after crossing a river.”
Borja has had to change how he communicates as well using Spanish and French north of Mauritania, and only French within the Mauritanian borders.
Borja and Elvis have traveled over 2500 kilometers so far and Bitcoin Magazine will continue to keep you updated through their trek.