Published: August 7th 2007December 12th 2002
As you are not allowed to take alcohol out of Morocco, and Mauritania is almost a dry country (upwards of US$4 for a beer, who is going to pay that!?) we spent the last night in Morocco/Western Sahara burying all beer, wine and spirits deep inside the truck hoping they wouldn't be found. On all previous trips apparently the trucks had been searched and alcohol removed (lucky border guards!). So after all that effort, we didn't get searched at either border, all we lost was a jar of coffee (Tesco value instant coffee!) and a few tea bags to the Mauritanian guards.
As soon as we left Morocco, we lost tar sealed roads. The 10-15km of no-mans-land was all soft sand, so it didn't take long for the sand matting technique to be perfected! We were all covered in sand and dust, it got in our food and the water bottles. We saw plenty of camels and very little else.
We had a guide to get us through the desert to Nouadhibou then Nouakchott. The first day he took us just over the iron ore railway line (home of the worlds longest trains) to where he seemed to have
Driving along the beach
Dale, Nancy, Lous, Karen
The second nights camp was outside Nouadhibou at the site of an old fort or something similar. There were underground bunkers, ruined buildings, gun emplacements complete with rusty gun barrell, and loads of rusty hulls of beached ships along the beach.
The sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular, there's nothing better than sitting on a sand dune in the middle of the desert watching the sun go down. We ran out of fresh food quickly however, and had a couple of fried potato, onion and baked bean dinners, which admittedly went down quickly and we all had seconds, sandmatting all day makes you hungry, especially if all we are fed for lunch is 1 1/4 slices of tinned peach, two spoonfuls of chocolate angel delight and a crumpled Weetbix. Desert rations. We have this saying on our truck, "Save it for Chad and Sudan", its been said so many times by the crew about all the tinned food we are carrying that now we just say it to wind them up, everything has become "sifcas" rations.
It took nearly four days to drive through the desert between Nouadhibou and Nouakchott. Plenty of sandmatting when Alun drives,
not so much with Steve, but I'm sure Alun will get there one day! We took the coastal route through the Parc National Banc d'Arguin. This is meant to be a big bird park, but we didnt see many, a few flamingos, some pelican like birds and various gulls and terns. Once we left the park, we had to drive along the beach for about 80 kms. The beach was pretty narrow, dunes on one side and the sea on the other. But the "road" was hard and we drove much faster. Afer a night camped on the edge of the beach, we found a "road" a bit inland that cut a few corners and got us to Nouakchott quicker than the beach might have done.
We are now in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, and have the day free to do whatever we like (and get dinner for whoever stayed on the truck to eat). Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a lot to do! Its a smallish place, run down and dusty - not many sealed roads - and relatively expensive for Africa. Once we are done here and have got stamps for some postcards, the rest of our money is going on snacks for the run to Bamako, Mali. Some more Laughing Cow, some biscuits or chips, maybe some coke...expensive western food!