I’d arrived loaded up with solar powered chargers, torches, batteries, two cameras and two laptops – some for me and some gifts. I set the beepers blaring and was whisked off to a small room, where a rotund customs lady gave me a sheet outlining the tax I was due to pay.
“If only I could have one of these torches” she said as she gave me a bill for around £100.
“Maybe you can” I offered.
“No, no, that’s against the rules”.
Damn, I’ve found the one non-corrupt official here. We discussed the problem for some time and I offered a few solutions. Eventually, she believed my pale lie that I only had £5 in cash.
“So what will we do” she asked.
“I could give you the £5 and walk out of here?”.
“Ok – next time bring me a torch”.
“It’s a deal”.
Minutes later I was with Ibou, the boyfriend of my friend Laurie, and we raced across the countryside down to the Casamance, Bob Marley blasting out, children waving and shouting “toubab”, explosions of green following the rains and sweltering oppressive heat.
I’m back and it was as if I’d never left.