Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yeah so after chilling in Essouira for 6 days had to pay the price by sitting on a couple of long distant rides south to Dakhla and Mauritania

What a change it was to get on a long distance bus ride from Essouira south after chilling for the past 6 days or so with my 4 mates. One had already left for home and Mathjias and Lisa were heading back to Spain for a festival. While Manuela the German chick with a Spanish name was heading home too.
So decided to do the over 2 thirds length of the coast of Morocco in one long bus ride. Cus figured why not get back into travelling in a big way. If u look at a map of Morocco u may notice that its a long country with a lot of it in the Western Sahara desert.
The first bus actually only went about 4 hours to Agadir {a touristy resort town that most European vacationers like to hang out if u can believe more than other parts of Morocco}. We than had to switch buses however the 2nd bus was kind of broken so we were stuck there waiting for a couple hours for another bus. Luckily I found a Swedish chick also waiting for her bus so we chatted to pass the time. The bus driver noticing I was the only foreigner traveller suggested I get photocopies of my passport. I didnt understand but after about 10 hours of driving down the hwy I found out that there were a whole bunch of police stops. They were checking to insure that they could track people travelling south to Mauitania.
Actually the highway south through the desert is in good condition. It s all asphalted and traffic can easily go 100 kph. The trip started with a full bus but some where along the way people got off but I was sleeping and didnt notice any towns. I also was lucky that the driver had photocopies of my passport info cus we encountered a lot of police checks. So they didnt have to wake me up to check my passport plus this didnt delay us so long.

So 28 hrs after leaving Essouira we arrived in the city of Dahkla the furthest town in southern Morocco. But it was still about 350 km from the Mauritanian border however there were no buses going there.
But luckily the guy in the bus station there told me that there was a guy hanging around the Sahara Hotel [an appropriate name given we had driven thru the Western Sahara desert but little known to me I had a lot more desert to see} driving people down to the border by shared taxi.. So stupid me decided that I could walk in the heat to the hotel cus the town wasnt that big: But later found out the hotel was a bit of a ways away. But I made it there and true to his word a Mauritanian guy was waiting to sell me a seat in his taxi to the border.

He said we could leave at 8 AM the next day to the border. So this give me an entire evening to check out the town /city of Dakhla. But found out except for the park area by the ocean there wasnt much to see there. So this gave me a chance to wash some clothes; grab a bite to eat and get on the internet for a short time.

The next morning the guy was knocking on my door at 7.30 Am which was a pleasant surprise. However he fell back into the old routine of people in these countries as he drove out into the desert pickup area for more passengers to fill the car. This was the designated meeting point for people wanting or giving rides to the border. So we finally managed to get 3 passengers including myself and left for the border. I was glad he couldnt get more passengers cus more would have made it a long cramped trip.

The 350 km trip took us 4 hours and then we had a 1 1/2 delay at the border. The wait could have been longer as luckily it wasnt that busy that day. There were also a bunch of other western people there going by cars; campers and 1 guy going to South Africa by motorcycle.
I still had some Moroccan currency which I wanted to exchange for Mauritanian money. But the driver told me he could exchange it for me. Then to my surprise he also went thru the border check to continue driving us to Nouadhibou a Mauritanian town nearest to the border.

One thing I really noticed here was that there was a permanent sort of smog in the air as it always seemed to be cloudy due to the constant sand or dust in the air. This constant dust in the air was a bit of a problem for me cus I picked up a bit of a cold from hanging with Mathjias and Lisa who gave it to me. So the dust in the air didnt help with my cough or plugged nose.

The driver took 2 of us to this Auberge {a cheqp hotel or camping as they call it}. The Auberge was OK as I could sleep anywhere. But it was only about 4 pm and I wanted to get the hell thru Mauritania so asked if there was a bus out of town at night. Luckily there was one leaving at 430 pm so he took me to the station. Then he said he could exchange my Moroccan currency to Mauritanian. I then found out why he wanted to change it away from the border. It was cus he gave me an unfavorable exchange rate but I was stuck at this point cus I had to pay for my bus. But I still got plenty to pay for my bus as wasnt sure if there were ATM machines around to get cash.
So he drove me to the bus station and made sure I got the ticket to go to Nouchachott the capital city of Mauritania. On my way out of town I couldnt help but make a couple of noticable observations: 1 the town was a real shit hole with garbage laying all over the place {yeah OK so it s the same in all 3rd world countries but this one had as many goats as humans wandering thru the crap eating the garbage and wandering into homes and businesses like they were sacred animals }. My second observation was that almost all the vehicles were Mercedes. Now I dont know about where u are from but in Canada only the rich or people trying to impress others drove Mercedes and I knew these people were NOT trying to impress given the dusty; dirty condition of the town::

The bus ride was a bit weird cus there must have been 15 police checks in the 5 hr bus ride. I would have thought thqt they would quit after it got dark but they still stopped everyone on the road. I later found out that the reason they were stopping and checking was to keep track of people {mainly people like me visiting the country as a few had been kidnapped out and held for ransom in the past or had mysteriously disappeared in the desert so it was a relief to know that I was held in such high esteem. Cus God knows no one else holds me at this same level, ha ha}

Another thing that was a strange to see was the bus stopping so the people could get off to pray at prayer time. Heck I hope I never get that religious cus the wind was starting to blow sand all over Gods green acres {I ll rephrase that Allah sandy desert} so hell it was a mess kneeling down with your face in the sand with the sand blowing in my face. But guess they knew that at judgement day they would be rewarded for this sacrifice. But being the only Infidel well I sat in the bus or went out to pee but watching I didnt do it on a kneeling person. I thought that there were only 2 prayer times after 4 pm but we stopped 3 times for the ritual. But with all due respects to my Mauritanian friends they were probably saying an extra prayer to either have the dam wind from blowing all the sand around the place or maybe to get them the hell out of that shit hole. But in some ways have to admire their perserverance in following the religion so closely.
We pulled into Nourchachott about 10 pm and had to look for a hotel to pass the night cus there werent any more buses to get me out out of the country. This guy appeared out of the darkness to offer his services to drive me even tho he wasnt driving a taxi. Of course stupid me never gave it any thought on any danger cus just wrote him as a guy trying to make a buck or whatever their currency was {wasnt in the country long enough to know the name of the currency or to even have 1 meal so u can figure out how much the place impressed me}. The guy took me to one hotel which was definitely out of my price range as quickly calculated it would have cost me the equivalent of 150 Dollars a night. I knew I wouldnt spend that much back home or anywhere so why spend it there! So he asked me if I wanted to camp so I said sure wherever cus or whatever as long it was in my price range: So he took me to this Auberge {a cheap hotel which I figure could be almost anything but not necesarily always camping as I knew it }.

So this place was a bit of a cool place with a courtyard and a common room and kitchen; sort of like a hostel in my definition. But I just wanted a room so took a cot under a mosquito net and piece of canvas for warmth I guess: But to me it was kind of like camping cus I was basically sleeping outdoors on the roof of the building: But hell I was in no position to argue at that time of day: So yeah there were a lot of mosquitos out that night even with my mosquito netting: Im just thankful that there was a bit of a breeze to keep it cool and keep the main portion of mosquitos away.

So in one day I travelled by shared taxi 350 km from Dakhla to the Maritanian border. Then 1 hr at the border followed by 1 hr shared taxi to Nouitanbou; 1 hr there in that town followed by a 5 hr bus ride to Noutchachott. So u could say I had covered a bit of ground;

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