Well after spending another long day on the road I bedded down in an French guest house or camping as they called it there.
I preferred to call the Sahara Auberge that I stayed as camping. Cus I slept on the roof on a cot under a mosquito net and fly. It was OK as long as the wind blew cus it kept the mossie's attack down. But hey can’t be fussy about re I stayed cus it was late at night and I had taken an along day shared taxi and bus till 9 pm.
In the morning I was chatting with this Belgium guy Bert and he mentioned that there were 3 of them driving from France to Guinea. So I sort of asked Bert if that I wasn’t sure how I was going to get out of Naucharchott. So I asked since they only had 3 people if they minded another person to share the expenses. So he checked with the others and that’s how I came to travel with the 3 of them. One of the guy was delivering the car they were driving to the his in laws. This guy was French (his wife was from Guinea via Senegal) and the 2 of them worked for Airbus airline engineers designing planes. The 3rd member of the travelling 3 was an English lawyer working in Touloose, France. So they were nice friendly and we got along great.
We had to drive from the capital of Mauritania south to the Senegal border which took us about 7 hrs and a number of police checks but not nearly as many as in the north of the country. What was interesting I found out was there were many piles of rocks on the side of the road. I was told that this indicated that there were landmines there. Whether that was true or not was debatable but there were a lot more in the north of Mauritania than in the south. This was especially true in the No Man’s Land between Morocco and Mauritania a stretch of 4 km. This piece of land had never been cared for by either country so u had to drive over rocks and sand. One hell of rocky piece of land which was also a graveyard for a number of abandoned cars and trucks that probably never made it through.
The highway south of Nourachachot was in OK shape but I always wondered if no cars used the highway how soon it would be covered over by the blowing sand. One other thing I noticed about the country was there were no really places to stop and have a bite to eat. I suppose we could have stopped along the highway at one of the huts and maybe get something but it wasn’t really oblvious that they sold food to travelers. So we didn’t actually eat in Mauritania at a restaurant so I have no idea the food they served. One thing I notice is that the homes we saw were just mud huts in a wind blown land.
A touchy incident occurred to us just before we got to the Senegal border. We were stopped by a police check. The cop took our passports and asked if we had car insurance for Senegal? What was odd was why would a Mauritanian cop be asking if we car insurance for Senegal and saying we needed to buy it from them. Since they were all speaking in French well I was basically a bystander but also it wasn’t my car. But what did bother me was the cop got a little upset and said something and drove off to get proof that we needed insurance from him/them. This was really confusing so we waited for a couple minutes before we started to get concerned cus the dude had out passports!!! So we got another cop to show us the way to the local police headquarters for the area as we were only about 5 km from the border. So after driving thru this village in some obsqure place he showed us the local cop station. The long and short of the situation was they couldn’t find this cop who took our passports but he was known to the head of the police there. So this dude was in deep shit for taking our passports as I never did find out about the car insurance thing. So the head of the police apologized and had us come in to his office for a cold drink and water while they got this guy who took our passports. They finally located the dude and he was reprimanded in front of us. This must have been a big dent to his pride and ego cus the cops all seem on some sort of power trip in these countries. So a big argument began with a lot of shouting and yelling which I had no idea what they were saying but the cop in question was doing most of the yelling. So they kind of led him off to another room (or cell ha ha) to cool down but we didn’t see or hear from him after that incident. But gives a shit cus we got our precious passports back which was our big concern and we forgot all about the car insurance for Senegal!
The others had read in the Lonely Planet that taking the paved highway directly to Senegal was a lot of hassles. But driving a 100 km dirt road would eliminate the hassles. But I never really read the guide books that carefully so I had no thought on this decision. But I would have preferred to stick to the paved highway but hey I was only along for ride and had no vote (though they were really nice and I could have stated my case if I had one but like I said I don’t read the guide book plus everything is an adventure so shit it beat walking, ha).
The head of the cops had called ahead for us to insure they kept the border crossing open until we got there. Cus it wasn’t a particularly common crossing that was used cus it was basically a sand road thru the desert for 100 km. We kind of lolllowed the river that flowed by to the ocean which showed us how to get there. But luckily one of the cops needed a lift to the border crossing we were headed to so he asked for a rideand could kind of show us the way. So he hopped aboard and was quite a character actually once he got away from his fellow cops. We stopped for a break and he started putting his police hat on each of us to take a picture. We came across a couple police checks but they let us pass through once our passenger cop said a couple of salem malekems to them.
Shit those 100 kms took us like 2 hrs to drive but hey we did get to see a bit of wild life along the way like warthogs, flamingos, cranes, etc. The border crossing was painless as we had the head of the local area phone and pave the way for us. Then the Senegal side was relatively easy too cause we didn’t need a visa to enter plus the guys were busy watching a major wrestling bout (Sengalese wrestling is sort of like Sumo wrestling as its 30 mins ceremony and less than a min of action) on tv.
So hey we made it in to Senegal and it was noticeable cus the country seemed richer, at least it was our initial observeration. So we were close to ocean city of Saint Louis which had seen it’s better days.
We looked for another Auberge as they were cheaper guesthouses. But we found that the prices of places to stay in Senegal was not cheap. In fact I think that Senegal is quite expensive compared to neighboring countries. But we did manage to find a room for the 3 of them and one for me. But shit cost me like almost 13 Euro / $20 which I never pay for but then I was in the room myself and had no choice.
Saint Louis is known for its night life so Shellie the French guy had been there before so he wanted to go to this bar which had live Senegalese music playing. But by the time we ate and headed to the bar the music was over. So we decided to check out a couple of other places and ended up in a disco which would not have been my 1st choice but I just went wit da flow!! Funny thing is the live music ended early the action didn’t start in the disco till about 1 am ex most night spots I’ve encountered on this trip! I didn’t want to pay for too many beers cus it was expensive so only had maybe 2 or 3 that night/morning. Well after watching and listening to the music I asked this chick sitting at the bar next to me to dance. We had once dance but since she spoke French and I couldn’t we had nothing to talk about but wasn’t really interested. But after awhile she came and tried to talk so we tried to talk but didn’t and the others were going back to the hotel and so got them to tell her we had a early start the next day. But Shellie stayed longer cus he was told therwas live music on later but we didn’t want to wait. So that ended my night at a Senegalese disco a bit different but interesting.
The next morning they had to wake me up as they were having breakfast so another day with no food but hey I had no appetite in the heat! A funny incident happened as we were driving out of town as Bert the Belgium guy was driving. He happened to pass a slow moving car in front of a cop. So this cop jumps out and waves us to pull over and starts yelling wildly at him. He wanted his international driver’s licence and took him to his car. Well after about 10 mins of wild talking Bert comes back to say he had to pay about a 20 Euro fine or the cop was going to take us down to cop station to spend the day. This was oblviously a money grab but what could he do so he had to pay so we could get on the way to Dakar! I was to learn later that everyone in Senegal is after your money if you’re a foreigner
So after that incident we made it to Dakar with no other problems. But the traffic was really getting bad as it must have took us 1 hr to get to where we wanted to go. But first Shellie wanted to show us this plot of land he bought to build a house. He is European French so he must like the city cus his wife is from the place. But to be honest I wouldn’t have sunk more than Auberge rent in that city. Also it was beyond me how he found the place he was building the house. Cus it was like The Boss sang the words “the streets have no name” in one of his songs. Plus the area all looked the same to me and his street was so narrow a car couldn’t drive. All he had was a sort of a frame for some type of structure but looked like some that were finished – just walls! But hey it was his decision to build as I wouldn’t but I don’t want to own another place again!
He then took us to this Auberge near the beach which he really liked. So Bert and I shared a room for about 10 E or $15 each but we had to share a double bed. So we took it cus it was the cheapest we could find. The Auberge was a 2 min walk to the beach so Sellie was down there in the water as soon as he put his things away. So we all took a dip in the water to cool off but shit I found the water to be very polluted and dirty so I got the hell out fast cus this wasn’t a swimming beach to me. Hell there were motor boats anchored right there so that didn’t help. So had to go to shower after that swim.
Well it’s all an experience and that swim definitely was. But then the night was too cus Bert didn’t like the ceiling fan on for some reason. So I could hardly sleep all night cus 1.it was so fucking hot and 2. There were so many fucking mosquitos cus the fan and breeze keep them away. So I hung on the terrace in the breeze away from the mosquitos most of the night.
But we said our goodbyes & I had thanked them for the ride before going to sleep. So by the time I woke up in the morning they were gone. So ended my road trip with them!!!!