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Motorcycling in West Africa...an email from Doc47


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David Levine, aka Doc47 sold everything and moved to The Gambia earlier this year. He recently sent an email to our local PNW group and I thought y'all would like to read it here:



Yo there, hoons and hoonettes!

West Africa correspondent here reporting on all the motorcycling news

from The Gambia to.....well......The Gambia.

So far I've seen 5 BMWs. The President, the Honorable Alhaji Doctor

Yaya Jammeh, has several 1150RTs in his escort entourage. I was pretty

surprised when I first saw one hum by, and the sound was pure

Beethoven to my ears, but when I got to see it up close there were oil

leaks and a busted headlamp that hadn't been replaced. I was thinking

of offering my services to get the Big Man's fleet back in proper

order when I recalled that his last mechanic was "shot while

attempting to escape". I quickly put the thought out of my mind.

I've seen a K100RS parked on a dirt side-street. Saw a couple on

F-650s. Caught a glimpse of a white guy on an RT. Other than those,

not too much else.

One piece of good news: the number of Harleys in The Gambia is....zero.

The standard bike here is a single-banger 125 or 100 built in China

and going by various brand names that no one in the US or Europe ever

heard of, like "BOSS". I haven't gotten a sense of how reliable they

are but I've ridden a couple and they handle like rice noodles. (I saw

one guy with a 175 and figured he was in the Superbike class.)

They go putting around, putting themselves in harm's way as the

drivers here are just short of homicidal. Lots of folks get their

driver's license simply by paying of the guy (or gal) at the licensing

bureau. On top of that there's no such thing as traffic enforcement.

There are frequent police checkpoints but they are mostly interested

in checking to make sure your papers are in order and to occasionally

hassle you just enough to earn a bribe so they'll stop hassling you.

The bribe doesn't have to be much -- less than $0.50 will do it -- but

the idea sort of gravels my ass. Especially when I'm here taking care

of their folks for free.

When I tell the cop I'm a Senior Medical Officer at the RVH they

usually back off pretty quickly.

Back to MCs. There are a few sport bikes around, mostly older models.

There is so little smooth pavement here and as soon as you're off the

main roads everything is unpaved. Now, at the end of the dry season,

it hasn't rained since last September and many roads are deep sand.

It's not unusual to see cars bogged down but that usually doesn't last

long. Folks here are friendly and helpful and basically very, very

nice, and it doesn't take much effort to recruit some bodies to push a

car onto firmer ground.

You're getting the idea now that a dual-sport would be the way to go

and yes, I'd just love to have a KLR 400 here. Even a 250 would be a

treat, and easy on petrol, too. Gambians refer to gasoline as "fuel",

pronounced "fWELL". The price of fwell is set by the government at 30

dalasis per liter, which is about $1.10.

There's a lot of road building going on in the country. Outside the

area of the capitol the roads are infamous and a serious effort is

being made to push a decent road through to the "up-country" areas. In

our area they're working feverishly to complete some sprucing-up

projects and installation of tall streetlight standards on the main

highways leading to the airport, the capitol, and the major tourist

hotel areas in time for the African Union (AU)Summit in July.

To provide the money for the light standards the government slashed

the health and education budget by half.

What's really ironic is that there isn't enough electricity to power

the silly things. They've been blacking out the power to save fuel so

there will be plenty to supply electricity during the Summit.

Oh well, at least they don't bankrupt their country by invading other

people, like some countries I know.

All right, I'll get off my friggin' soapbox.

Take care, folks. Hoist a frothy one for me and have a GREAT time at

Chief Joe. I really miss y'all.

The Docster



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Thanks !


I didn't pick that up on NWST (yet anyhow) ... amazing to hear from the Docster !

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The Doc sounds like an interesting guy. What a commitment to make and what a great sense of humor in difficult circumstances.

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Weiner man


Pass on to the Doc, that I've had a NUMBER of women asking about him as I was riding thru Port Orchard!! grin.gifgrin.gif

Oh yeah, and tell him he's missed!



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