Peter Gostelow Africa cycle update: Machete attackers in Dakar

Peter Gostelow Africa cycle update: Machete attackers in Dakar

Posted: Mar 17, 2010 04:58 pm EDT

I looked down at my arm and saw the gaping slash; blood was collecting on my left foot. Five men attacked solo cyclist Peter Gostelow in Dakar Senegal.

There were shouts as hands began to tug at his bags. He resisted. The machetes started slashing in front of his face and one connected with his wrist. The blades looked old and rusted he recalled.

Evening walk

Peter explained what happened, It happened around 8pm last Saturday night, right outside the International School Id been speaking at the previous week here in Dakar. I was walking along the corniche a large, well lit and usually busy road that runs along the coast.

My assailants were wearing flip-flops. It was the sound of their footwear along the pavement that I heard first. When I turned round the five bodies had surrounded me. They were all black, young and two were wielding large machetes.

The blades looked old and rusted. There were shouts, possibly in Wolof, as hands began to tug at my bags. I was wearing a small black day-sack on my back and an SLR camera was in a bag across my shoulder.

Surreal seconds

Those first few seconds were surreal. I didnt accept it was a reality until Id moved backwards into the road and fallen onto the tarmac. I watched car headlights approaching and wished they would come quicker.

When they did the horns sounded and the vehicles swerved around me. I thought the vehicles would stop and deter the five. At first none did.

The bags were still in my possession at this moment. It was when the machetes started slashing in front of my face and one connected with my wrist that I let go.

It was probably at this moment that my wallet, buried deep within a zipped pocket of my trousers, was taken too.

Within seconds the five had run across the road and jumped over a wall on the sea-ward side of the corniche. I got to my feet in an attempt to chase them. One of the attackers had yet to jump the wall. I cried out from several metres away. He turned and looked at me nervously, then threw the empty camera bag back, before disappearing over the wall.

Gaping slash

It was then that I looked down at my arm and saw the gaping slash.

My left foot had also slipped out of my sandal. I thought it was sweat that had caused this, but a pool of blood was collecting here too.

Quit is something Ill regret down the line

Peter said there was a moment, whilst he was awaiting the anaesthetic and looking up at the fluorescent strip-light above him in the hospital bed, that he said to himself, Now would be a sensible time to quit.

What the hell am I doing riding a bike through Africa when in the space of two weeks Ive had both my cameras stolen, all my money taken and my arm and foot slashed with a machete? Sure there were incidents of theft when I cycled from Japan-England, but nothing like this.

But then he gave it a thought again. The truth is Ive put a lot of thought and energy into The Big Africa Cycle. Im determined to complete what I set out to do at the start, and continue fund-raising for the Against Malaria Foundation.

Senegal has dealt me some blows, but to quit in the face of them is something I feel Ill regret down the line.

Down fro the moment

Peter is now staying with an American couple of the International School. He cant stand on his left foot and reported that he would probably be off his bike for a month.

Peter Gostelow, who lives in Dorset (UK) when he is not on his bicycle, was born in 1979 and became an English teacher and long distance cycler. During 2005 to 2008 he cycled from Japan to the UK, a distance of 50,000 km. Currently he is cycling from London, through Africa, to Cape Town; a 20,000+ km distance which will take two year to finish. He started on 16 August 2009.


Peter in the wheelchair following surgery in the hospital and talking to a representative from the British Embassy in Dakar, Senegal (click to enlarge)
courtesy Peter Gostelow, SOURCE
Happy days earlier in Dakar (click to enlarge)
courtesy Peter Gostelow, SOURCE