Mauritania propper

(pictures to follow soon)

After a bad night’s sleep camping on a sand dune behind the petrol station we made an early start towards Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. It was only 250km away and so it was easy riding. We saw different faces of the Sahara desert with rolling orange dunes and flat stretches of white rocks with a sprinkling of vegetation. This was a comparatively deserted desert though, from the border to the capital we only crossed a couple of villages; settlements along the road really. Their wooden shacks were leaning in the same direction as the wind and people were sitting idle in front of them. We did note though that they all had decent cars parked next to them. It was interesting that the Mauritanian desert also felt poorer than that of Western Sahara; as soon as we had crossed the border the roadside was littered with burned out/crashed cars and decomposing bodies of camels and donkeys. I don’t know the explanation for either but suspect that the former may be the result of a late night/high speed encounter with the latter…

Arriving in Nouakchott was very interesting; we weren’t prepared for the heat. I suspect it was in the high 30s Celsius, which is mild there, but nearly unbearable for us riding in all our motorcycle gear. We stopped at a petrol station and were surprised that the pump attendant wanted to buy our euros. Talk of confidence in the local currency! This was the second station we visited though, the first one didn’t have unleaded petrol and the attendant barely got up from the oil stained mattress on which he was napping, right by the pumps. He had been bothered a few moments before our arrival by a man on a camel… Was he picking up diesel for his car? We don’t know but it was funny to see a camel waiting at a petrol station.

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