Day 19… Early start as the winds had not died down. Plenty of camels, cattle and goats crossing the road at several places. More sand dunes and trees. The temperature is becoming more humid and stickier the further south we travel. Drinking more water each day. I have not had a cup of tea since leaving the UK and only one cup of coffee a day. We needed local currency for fuel as the petrol stations did not take card and stopped in Nouakchott – worst driving conditions EVER. No sense of order or apparent road awareness from drivers. Just find a gap and fill it seemed to be the approach. A couple of scrapes with a donkey cart with minor damage to Greta and one rear bumper knock from a fellow driver. A comical moment involving 4 police officers and a local translator who stopped to assist us and the poor translator got abuse from the officers. Apparently we had run a red light and they wanted a fine of 100MRU which soon increased to 1000MRU. The language barrier helped us and the officers gave up after much animated discussion between them.
Most fuel stations we passed looked very dubious or had been abandoned. However, we needed fuel to get us into Senegal and there were limited options available. Greta still needs a fuel filter to avoid poor quality fuel and this will be arranged in Senegal. Our route to the quieter Diama boarder crossing went through a national park. Stunning scenery and plenty of warthog running around. The dirt track was in extremely poor condition but Greta’s tyres were reduced and she flew over the massive potholes with ease.
Had to pay 400 MRU park fees and 100 MRU community tax which we had expected. The border crossing into Senegal weas relatively easy as it was quiet and the day before Ramadan ends so I think most staff just wanted to go home at this point in the late afternoon as the border crossing was closed tomorrow. The police officer who stamped us out of Mauritania wanted 20 euros which we managed to avoid as this was a bribe. Bridge crossing was 4,500 CFA (receipt given) and we changed up some local currency having worked out the exchange rate so the chap seemed legitimate. However when they hand over a bunch of notes that appear very old and having never seen this currency before, it really could be a good con but we had no choice but to take the risk. Got the passport stamped (no charge for a Senegal visa) and also managed to get a brown card to cover Greta for this region of Africa. All separate buildings again and a ramshackle wooden hut for the brown card. Much better road conditions driving into St Louis with wider tarmacked roads. Arrived at the campsite where our German traveller Marcus was also there and we had met him at the boarder too. The bar was self – service and you simply add your drinks to your own customer sheet and pay when you leave the campsite. We happily helped ourselves to several ‘La Gazell’ beer. Not sure if the counting of drinks added up by the end of the night.
What an embarrassment Nouakchott is as a capital city, it is very African, but still an embarrassment. I had fun driving around trying to navigate the chaos, being millimetres from other cars / goats without hitting them, all very Demolition Derby style. But every street is a complete tip, nothing makes sense, and it was complete chaos. Google tried to send us down one street which looked like a blend between a street market and an open sewer, so we managed to do a hasty bypass down some back streets to get back on track. Didn’t help many streets were closed due to preparations for the end of Ramadan.
I genuinely think it wouldn’t take much to make order of it all, but no one in this country seems to give a monkeys. It’s one of the grubbiest African countries I’ve ever seen!
And thanks be to Greta that Senegal has beer… time to relax for a few days.