So – waking up the first morning in Dakar, I had one mission: get the batteries for my underwater drone at the DHL office. As this is the very first prototype of the drone, it is not yet sized to fit in carry on luggage, and thus the batteries were shipped. So, Katie, Jess, Heather and I jumped into a taxi to pick the batteries up at the nearest DHL office – I had the papers and all, this shouldn’t take long! … oh we were so wrong.
We were all in. But apparently DHL was not. I had a tracking confirmation number that gave us an address and assurance that the batteries were where they were supposed to be. As a group, when we found that we had gone to the wrong DHL we were not daunted. Our plan was to pick up the batteries, lock them in our hotel room and then go explore Dakar. At the second DHL office I was told the batteries had not cleared customs, and that I would have to go to the airport and speak to a man named Etienne. Our taxi driver was still with us, Jess was sound asleep in the back seat and it was now 90 degrees. We were no closer to having the batteries that would enable me to test our prototype. And it cost 40 bucks. Swell.
Heather insisted she see my batteries saga through to the very end. The airport was 300 meters from the hotel we were staying at and on the way we made a strategy; we would be good cop-bad cop and we were not leaving without the batteries.
We asked the people in baggage where the DHL office was and got pointed in the right direction. A man approached us and told us to follow him to Etienne. Reluctantly we did, and together we walked into the equivalent of an industrial area that we would have been hard pressed to find. Our new leader took us directly to Etienne who proceeded to talk to us about expediting our package. Heather, who played bad cop, did not like this at all and told the men that we were not leaving the office until I had my package in my hands, and that the shipping was already paid for and they had best do their jobs. It was implicit that if we gave both men money, I would have my package. It seemed pointless to argue with him so instead I showed him pictures of my BluEye drone and footage from marine life and coral reefs, and explained to him what I was planning to do and why getting these batteries was so crucial.
Five hours (!) we sat in that office, but in the end I had my batteries without extra cost and Etienne has the eXXpedition link on his smartphone and plans to watch our journey. Yeahhhhh!