|We consulted with Ebrima. The only thing to do was to go forward and take it one step at a time. The taxis would take four in a car max. We were now five so we haggled for two taxis and set out.
Within minutes we reached the Senegalese border post預n unassuming building with two rooms. The front room was dimly lit by a single bulb. A man in army green sat behind an old wooden desk. We hesitatingly handed over our passports. A second man wandered in behind us and stood observing from the side of the desk葉he shirt of his uniform fully unbuttoned revealing his bare chest.
Each passport was checked and our particulars were entered in a log book. Then the attention turned to Issa. He nervously handed over his yellow card葉he international proof of vaccination we're all required to carry. This was all he had. The immigration official behind the desk looked at him with questioning eyes. Ebrima stepped forward speaking in Wolof, explaining that Issa had been robbed and his only chance was to reach his brother in Gambia.
The border guards were incredulous. "How can you travel without documents?" They asked where Issa was from. When the answer came back that he was Nigerian, things just got worse. Nigerians aren't looked upon favorably in Senegal.
The bare-chested guard took Issa's bag and arrogantly sifted through its contents. The guard behind the desk blurted out questions in unintelligible English and upon Issa's attempts to decipher these and answer bellowed "Don't you understand English?"
I stepped outside to collect my thoughts. This will come down to money. No need to worry. Just play the game, keep cool, be polite. A large flying insect hit my neck and dove inside my shirt. Other insects followed me back inside. Ebrima's attempts to talk to the guards were failing. The bare-chested guard took Issa by the arm用ulled him towards the back room. I never saw someone look so scared.
We quickly intervened not wanting Issa to be alone with these guys. It worked葉hey were distracted. A calm settled into the room. We filtered back outside預s did the bare-chested guard. He sat down in a chair and folded his arms葉hen gestured to Ebrima.
Ebrima came back over to us with the word. Issa could pass for 35,000 CFA (US$60). Bastards! These border guards live for such opportune moments葉he money would go right in their pockets.
Now we were angry. What had we done? Certainly the price tag was inflated by our presence. This was a huge sum in these parts. But what could we do葉he price was firm. We stalled and discussed matters amongst ourselves. The taxi drivers were growing impatient, demanding more money.
We decided we had no choice謡e would pay.