Sunday, 10 February 2008

7th Feb 08

Date: 7th Feb 08
Location: Nouadhibou, Mauritania
Weather: All sorts - 35°c in the desert, rain for 5mins in the heat and now a hot sultry evening!
Status: Ben – tired, amazed and still happy, Luke – overwhelmed but enjoying it, Colonel – another long day in the desert.

A true African experience today like we haven’t had yet!

Left our quiet little beach camp and made for the road again with our destination south of the capital if at all possible.

Passed through the numerous police checks with requests for presents, money and sunglasses at all and made for the new road which happily does exist.

Today was a true sahara experience as the desert lay before us with its enormity there for us to see, the temperature quickly rose from an easy 25°c to an almost unbearable 37°c as the road headed inland away from the coast. At its peak we even had some rain hitting the windscreen but it amounted to nothing and didn’t even settle the dust.

The wind gradually become stronger as the day wore on and by the time we were 100kms north of the capital vast amounts of sand and dust were being blown across the road making driving very difficult as visibility reduced and the sun became weaker. This lasted all the way to the outskirts of the town, and then suddenly disappeared as the sun dropped out of the sky for the evening.

We’d spotted a youth hostel in the guide book which we made for, if only for a different nights sleep from the tent! When we got there, and it was the right place, there was no such thing and Luke headed off to make enquiries for alternative secure parking and accommodation…he came back 10 mins later with a ‘guide’ and we took to the streets once more through the totally mad rush hour traffic of donkeys, trucks and cars that wouldn’t even get to an English MOT station let alone get on the ramps!

When we pulled into the Auberge we knew we’d been brought somewhere far too expensive for our budget and instead camped in the secure car park at a much better rate! Once we’d showered (bloody fine ones too!) and cleared the crap off us from the last two days travel we sat down, opened up to each other and calmed some of our fears and trepidation which had been building for the last 48hrs.

We are in Africa, it is the most different place in the world to what were used to and sometimes it becomes a bit too much with people trying to get things out of you the entire time, corrupt officials and just the whole environment, weather and heat…but were here doing it and I’m so proud of Luke – he’s taken on a huge amount.

Neither of us speak French very well and feel sometimes that we can’t get the whole picture and can’t properly socialise and take part, but we’re trying and getting better every day!

Tomorrow the drive to the border of Senegal and some respite from the heat in a country which we hope may be easier to get to grips with! Still I’m loving almost every minute and Afritrex continues as planned.

End of day location: Nouakchott, Mauritania
Distance covered: 430kms

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