(pictures to follow soon
Nouakchott is interesting to say the least, an experience in itself. It is the capital city of one of the five poorest countries in the world, where a scandalous proportion of the population lives in slavery. There seems to have been absolutely no urban planning and the few tarred roads we rode on had potholes the size of a small car. I’ve been in many poor countries before and there is always an interesting history to cities; faded glory or at least evidence of a semblance of organisation in their past, but not here. I can’t begin to describe how poor, bleak, hot and dusty Nouakchott is. Thankfully we stayed in Auberge Sahara which is a little haven. They fed us a nice dinner of vegetables which we had been craving for a few days (there’s only so far one can go on white bread and omelettes). They also had air conditioning and loo paper; the height of luxury.
During dinner we met a group of middle aged French men who were also on their way to Senegal. From the conversations I overheard I could make out that they were married to Senegalese women… nothing wrong with that, but quite interesting when one was the size of his van and the other one had glass lenses like the bottom of coca cola bottles…and a gold chain around his neck. Anyway, I digress, they were very friendly even-though they were carrying a bottle of pastis with them which they didn’t offer to share. We exchanged stories and they spoke about a new shortcut to the track that leads to the border crossing of Diama. There are two border crossing to Senegal; Rosso, which is notorious for its corrupt officials, aggressive touts and where daylight robbery is rampant, and Diama, where little traffic passes as it is at the end of a 90km dirt track. We had made up our mind long ago to cross from Diama but knew that the track would take us a while to complete as we are not experienced off-roaders. So the promise of an easy shortcut to the track which would nearly halve the 90km was alluring. We took note and decided to find it in the morning<;