Day 25-Mauritania, Nouadhibou-Welcome to the Moon

Trip Start Nov 09, 2008
Trip End Jul 02, 2009

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Flag of Mauritania  ,
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Now if there were any place in the world that resembled what I imagine the moon to look like, this is it.  Craters, rocks, vast white nothingness.  Really incredible.  Welcome to Mauritania.

Woke at the usual hour suffering what can only be called a slight hangover.  My grand plans of climbing to the top of the sand dune for sunrise disappeared with... nah I've already been up there 3 times, I don't need to do it again.  Suzy on the other hand was all dressed ready for a run.  I contemplated for about 2 seconds before deciding against it and promising to join her on her next one. 

So leaving the magnificent dunes behind us we drove until we reached the Moroccan border at 10.30am.  Having been told the previous group took 6 hours to go through we weren't holding much hope for a quick crossing but nevertheless a small pinch of it was still there.

Thinking there were no toilets at the crossing some took advantage of the rocky terrain, jumped off truck and legged it into the distance to find a suitable pee spot.  Seeing people disappear into the distance an official soon warned us "No no (hand signals) bang".  Turns out this area is littered with land mines.  Nice.  Thank god I didn't need to go to the toilet!

Back on the truck we continued to the border and its café and loo.  Knew I had held on for a reason!  We ended up spending about 3 hours at the Moroccan border which sounds long but could have been considerably longer had they wished to search the truck.  Whilst we were waiting I had to race back to the loo - there is a story with this so stay with me.  So I walk in and two guys follow me.  There are two ladies cubicles and right next door two guys.  I look up to see the walls don't go all the way to the top.  Interesting.  So anyway I'm doing my business when I look up and see two guys staring down at me from the top of the wall!  Eeeeewwwww like seriously who the hell wants to see a chick go to the loo.  Needless to say I legged it out of there as soon as I could.  This my friends is reason why girls go to the loos in groups!!

Finally, getting the okay to leave Morocco, we enter no mans land which doubles as a car graveyard, a distance of about 5km to the Mauritanian border.   Instantly the road stops, rubbish builds and burnt out cars litter the criss cross tracks marking the somewhat direction towards the border.  It's nothing like I've ever seen - you're driving in the Sahara, with no roads trying to get from A to B but not actually being able to see where A or B are.  Very weird.  Due to the condition of the ground it took us about 30 minutes to drive the 5km.

By now we were all hot, hungry and tired.  Having to stay on the truck cook group did a great job in bringing lunch inside and we all passed things to and fro.  Once again we were very lucky in that the truck didn't get searched, especially as we were carrying so much hidden booze into a dry country.  Still it took us until 4.30 to be cleared - 6 long hot hours spent on a truck going no more than 5km!  At least we were now on our way and in another country.  Yay.

Few things about Mauritania:

1.    It has the longest trains in the world.  A mix of iron ore and passenger trains.  Usually at lengths of 2.5km.

2.    There are numerous check points along the main road so just when you're getting up speed you have to pull over, show paper work and sometimes have an official climb on board and ask us questions.  Once again thank god for Catherine.  Thankfully so far it has just been more out of curiosity than anything else.   

As we had to get special insurance for the truck we swung through Nouadhibou, our first introduction to a Mauritanian town.  The differences between Morocco and Mauritania were immense.  There was no green to be seen, buildings were partly finished, goats wondered the streets... and the dust was just EVERYWHERE.  Making the tar roads look like dirt ones - it covered everything in a white sheet.

Having arrived later than expected we ended up finding a camp site in town rather than sticking to our original plans of driving out and bush camping.  Upon entering the site we saw the other truck already there and set up.  Turns out they had been there a few days stopping off to get hammered at a random bar on their first night.  The campsite was nice, we got to sleep on sand not rocks and it had good hot showers.  Bliss. 
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