The rest of the day and morning was spent chatting to family, sitting by the pool, eating chocolate and drinking gin and beer! Chatting to family and friends was great, if not a little tough at times.. Especially seeing all the food!!! A quick game of volley ball was followed by a meal, less extravagant than Christmas Eve dinner but still lovely - the boys were happy to have meat for the second day in a row. A great day .. Sadly Charles and Mandy came down with a sickness bug at 8pm which meant Rob and I were left to finish the beer, and Nutella pancakes.. Tough! Boxing Day was chilled, all of us were shattered either due to being up with the bug or being woken up by others with the bug, however it was decided to move on. Leaving the next day was tough.. Having woken up in the night myself with the bug, day two of little sleep was taking its toll! Luckily I spent most of the car ride to Palmarin asleep!
Getting to Palmarin was interesting.. My theory about a lot of roads in Senegal is that they are marked on the satnav as being completed before they are even started.. Parts of the road were not there, were being dug, or just being tarmaced.. This mean a lot of diversions, topped off with the GPS coordinates from the campsite website being wrong and us ending 20km away.. A lovely lady in a hotel put that right with some hand gestered directions! We got there and met Marlane and Gil (we had met in the Nouackchott initially, then various places in Senegal), the camping Dijdjack was nice, next to a beautiful beach and shipwreck. The camp ground was a bit of a tip, sometimes camping seems an afterthought for a lot of these places, but the showers were OK, and the breakfasts good value!
Leaving there we headed towards the National park, stopping off in campement Wassadou . The place was stunning. Right next to the river Gambia, Mandy and I spend the afternoon birdwatching whilst the boys fixed Robs car, we were then joined by them afterwards. For Christmas we splashed out on 2 items, one being a bird book in iBooks, Newmans book of Southern African birds (the other the Adele album but that's for for me!) - I feel myself turning more into my Mum every day.. Sitting for 5 hours bird watching and getting excited when one could be identified! Mandy and I spotted a Fish Eagle, Palm vulture, a giant kingfisher, a pied kingfisher and a few more interesting birds! Once the boys arrived a whole family of baboons sat playing in the trees across the river! Amazing place! Camping was very expensive here, but with dinner included along with the views and wildlife it was worth it for a day!
New Year's Eve and we packed up to find out how much the park was.. Find out out we needed a guid as well as the cost we decided to skip it, our reasoning being there would be a lot more chances for game parks further down south. We headed towards Tamboukua in search of a bank, it took us half an hour of queueing before we could draw money but it was good chatting away to the locals. On the way out I smelt and chicken being cooked on the side of the road and went to investigate.. A whole chicken with spices cost £4 .. Bargain! We bought this along with some bread for lunch! Amazing!
We headed back to campement Wassadou to be reminded it was New Year's Eve and we could camp as long as we joined in with their party dinner! We decided to and were not let down.. 5 courses of traditional food, drinks and dancing we enjoyed by all. The local community all coming to the communal hut to play drums and whistles, whilst the girls sang and danced. Somehow Mandy and I got roped into dancing, we were sadly no where near as good as the locals! We saw 2016 in with style and managed to stay awake until 2!
Waking up in the morning to slightly sore head, we packed up and headed through the park towards the Mali boarder. Tonight we camp, have an early night, get up early to head across. All of us have our apprehensions about Mali, after recent issues I think that is only normal. We have no choice but to go because we need visas but it may only be a fleeting visit. I think our parents will be looking at the SPOT tracker a little more in the next few days...
Summing up Senegal is hard, we have all fallen in love with it.. We have stayed here 4 weeks, have seen some amazing sights and met some amazing people, we have stayed in various campsites in different places, we have have 2 weeks of hot showers and two weeks of cold showers, have had some highs and some lows but an amazing time. The contrast between Morocco and Mauritania is vast: the people, attitudes, scenery and food. I think it is defiantly a place everyone should go at least once.