03-Nov-2002 -- At the end of a week's trip along the desert coast of West Africa I had spotted a Confluence not too far from the main road some 60 kilometres northeast of the big city of Dakar. My trip thus far had involved a 150 kilometre drive on the beach and 300 kilometres off-road in the open Mauritanian desert with only a GPS for a guide, and I had hoped to get some Confluences along, but the fact that we didn't pass within 20 kilometres of any points and that I was with others and wasn't driving (and also the fact that I had already bagged the first Confluence 18N 16W in Mauritania) dissuaded me and encouraged me in my dedication to bagging the first Confluence in Sénégal.
After crossing the ferry back into Sénégal at Rosso, taking a rather harrowing bush-taxi ride and picking up a borrowed vehicle we had parked in Richard Toll, we drove on to Saint Louis, an interesting town at the mouth of the Sénégal River, which has a well-preserved colonial section. There we spent the night in a nice French hotel and had a good meal of fish in the restaurant. The next morning we left about ten o'clock, passing through the towns of Louga, Kébémer, and Mékhé before turning off the main road at Tivaouane. There were supposedly some dirt roads leading west to the area of the Confluence 15N 17W, but we were not able to find them.
The road in Tivaouane was paved and well-marked, although it was necessary to backtrack to the north towards Mboro. Along the way we saw huge piles of mine tailings and some sort of chemical plant. In Mboro we found the road heading south towards Noto and the Confluence, but decided to go on some five kilometres further to the coast just to check it out. There was a small town called Mboro-sur-Mer, but our hoped-for restaurant did not materialize. There was only a snack bar. In turning around our truck got stuck in the sand and I had to lock the hubs and put it in four-wheel-drive to get out. So we decided to continue south.
The road was paved but uneven, so we just took our time, arriving in the area around 1pm. It looked like the Confluence would be located in a village and I was wondering about how to explain what I was doing. As we approached the Confluence, I saw that it would not be in the village, but to my dismay the road turned away from it and there was a barbed-wire fence stretching far into the distance. It enclosed a new mango-tree orchard. We came abreast of the Confluence with the GPS reading 310 metres to go, and the fence ended right there! So I parked the truck and hiked up a sandy hill into a pasture. To the west I could see the line of tall dunes marking the coast. There was a herd of cows and goats grazing but no one seemed to be around, so I took out my confluence flag (made for me by Rachel and Andy, who accompanied me to 14N 2E) but I couldn't find a stick upon which to mount it, so I just laid it over a detached thorn bush and put it on the Confluence, which was in an open, grassy pasture.
As I was shooting pictures along came a young Wolof man, trotting towards the town of Noto. He had been to his garden to harvest some bissap (a plant used to make a sweet drink the colour of grape juice, which is favoured in West Africa). We talked some and I found his name was Moussa Faso. He had been a welder in Dakar but business was not good so he had come back to the village to garden. He had very bad French but we were able to communicate and I photographed him at the Confluence, holding his bissap flowers. We walked back to the truck together and he jogged on down the road towards the village of Noto (still about 1 kilometre distant) while I picked the burrs out of my socks and shoes. After we left the Confluence we headed further south to the resort town of Saly and spent a couple of hours before heading back to Dakar, where we spent the night and caught a flight out the next day for our home in Niger.