LAC ROSE, Senegal - On the banks of Senegal's Lac Rose, the traditional finish for the Dakar Rally, the worrying sound of livelihoods disappearing has replaced the noisy din of car and motorcycle engines.
After hosting the climax of the world's most gruelling and dangerous desert race since the start of the 1980s, the 2009 Dakar was switched to South America after a series of terror attacks in Mauritania compromised the event's security.
As a result, instead of hundreds of competitors and camp-followers gleefully pouring desperately needed hard currency into this west African state, the area is virtually deserted.
The only engines being heard this year are those of the local salt trucks.
"Not having the rally come here anymore is a huge blow. It brought in a lot," said Assane Kane, the president of the village gift makers and craftsmen who could "make around 250000 West African (CFA) francs [about R5000] in just one day" from the visitors.
Aliou Oumar Ndiaye, the owner of Chez Salim, is also nostalgic for the boost the race brought.
"Financially, we could make 10 to 15 times more a month," he said, reflecting on a second successive year the rally has been missing.
Last year the Dakar was cancelled at the last minute after the murders of four French tourists by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mauritania.
"There were repercussions as the rally lost means a shortfall for our hotel," said Ndiaye.
Former campsite owner Idrissa Diop believes the final stage of the rally would mean around 200 to 300 extra people gathered at Lac Rose.
"That could mean doing five million CFA francs [about R10130] a day".
In the craftsmen's village, Cheikh Ba has spent the past 12 years selling traditional musical instruments and paintings. One design, showing a silhouette of two desert nomads, bears the inscription "Lisbon-Dakar 2008".
"I didn't sell any of them last year," said Ba.
Many businessmen in Senegal believe the loss of the Dakar will have major financial repercussions for the country, not just the region.
"The rally was a major promotional event for Senegal throughout the world. People knew about the Dakar," said El Hadj Malick Mbaye, the head of the national tourist authority.
Despite the gloom, Lac Rose will still enjoy a taste of motorsport this year.
At the weekend, a new competition, the Africa Race, the brainchild of former triple Dakar winner Hubert Auriol, was due to finish here. But the Senegalese media refused to get too excited about the event that followed the trail from France to Senegal via Morocco and Mauritania and only boasted a small number of entrants. - Sapa-AFP