Published: March 6th 2008March 5th 2008
We left our hotel in Dakhla, Morocco in a hired car at 7:00 am. We stopped just outside of town to pick up 2 more passengers (thankfully not 4 more! we still haven't recovered from that ride!). Between Dakhla and Nouadhibou (Mauritania), it is about 350 km. We optomistically thought we would arrive in Nouadhibou around noon. We arrived at the Moroccan border at about 12:30 pm and for the first time, we weren't the ones to hold up our vehicle. We had a young Mauritanian fellow in our car (I call him "The Prince" as that was how he seemed to think of himself) that had some passport/visa problems, so we were at the border for over 2 hours in the hot beating sun (the only shade was offered by the shadows of big trucks). Once we left the Moroccan border, we also left the pavement behind. This was the first no man's land for both of us, and one we are unlikely to forget. Not only did the pavement end, but so did civilization it seemed. The 'road' is a dirt/sand track that crawls over a rocky landscape for 5 km. This track hardly seemed fit for a 4WD,
let alone a Mercedes sedan with no rear shocks. It was slow going. The landscape is sandy and desolate, but the addition of derelict cars (some new, some old) and auto parts strewn all over, along with piles of garbage, gave the whole area a creepy Mad Max feel.
Entering into Mauritania was much smoother and there were no delays. We felt lucky to be in a private car, for some reason, it seemed that we had a smoother border crossing than other foreigners we saw.
We finally arrived into Nouadhibou around 4 pm. Hot, tired, sweaty and thirsty. Our driver exchanged money for us, at what turned out to be a good rate! We got into our hostel, found water and cold Fanta orange drinks and laid back, amazed at our journey between these two countries.
Mauritania is different from Morocco. Nouadhibou is one of the larger towns in the country, yet no building is over 3 stories high (oops - just noticed a brand new 4 story building being constructed!) and the sand takes over the sidewalk (if there is one). The drivers here like to honk just as much as Moroccans, but for different
White Rock Cliffs of Cap Blanc
This photo looks up the coast on the Moroccan side of the peninsula. There is a line of rocks to mark the border.
reasons it seems. Every car is a taxi, so they honk at you if you are walking to let you know they are free. They also honk when traffic stops, when they are passing other vehicles and when they see someone they know!
Yesterday, we hired a taxi to take us to Cap Blanc, the bottom of the peninsula we are on. The home of the elusive Monk Seal, as there are only about 100 of them left in the world. On one side there are dramatic, rocky cliffs and crashing waves and on the other side is a large expanse of sandy beach, with an abandoned ship half-buried in the sand. As elusive as the Monk Seal is, we did see one, and we saw him several times too!
We enjoyed the sun, the sand, the surf and the quiet as there were very few people about. Lots of action in the water though as Nouadhibou is a very busy port with it's large fishing industry and the iron ore it ships all over the world. One sight that we marvel at is the abandoned ships in the port. Apparently, according to our driver, there is no
Abandoned Ship on the Beach
There were tons of birds on the beach side, and as we walked toward them, they all took off.
cost to dock a ship in this port, so when a ship is beyond repair, they bring them here, and abandon them in the port. Now there is an eery looking ship cemetry, with parts of rusting ships sticking out of the water.
Last night we met a couple from Germany and it turns out they too are going on the iron ore train today, so it looks like we will have some great company for our long trip. We are unsure as to when the train leaves as again, we have been given several different times, so we will go early to ensure we don't miss it! Our destination is Choum, where taxis will scuttle us off to Atar where we will begin our desert exploration.
Lots of love,
Laini and Peter
p.s. the internet connections are terribly slow and somewhat unreliable here, so we will attempt to continue posting entries, but can't guarantee ... thanks again for following along!