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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The capital city Nouakchott is a little more ‘upmarket’ than it’s second city Nouadhibou and it isn’t until you wander into the market areas or away from the relatively tidy central city streets you realise it’s not that different after-all. From a photographic point of view it offers very little, so I had to be creative with this post. What’s amazing is the sand is everywhere, covering the sidewalks and in the backstreets, it makes up the main paths.

The center of town and sand covers the sidewalks.

Outside our auberge which lies a few kilometers from the center and it’s not just the sidewalks, it’s as if the buildings and roads have all been built in the sand. As I wandered around my boots would fill up with it, a reminder that I must get myself a pair of sandals.

The main road outside our hotel.

Speaking of the auberge, these budget establishments put the Moroccan hotels to shame. Not only are they very well run, but much cleaner than many of the budget hotels I experienced in Morocco. It really is quite comfortable, I’m meeting a variety of fellow travelers and enjoying my stay here. The only downside so far has been the mosquitoes, of which there are very many and however much I try I end up getting bitten. Another reason I enjoy sleeping in my tent.

The communal dining area, Auberge Sahara.

Along with all the friendly staff and probably the friendliest Polish guy I’ve ever met, I’ve been very fortunate to run into Ben, a fellow Brit who has converted to Islam and is studying in the desert. As he speaks both French and Arabic we have shopped together round the markets and shared meals out, which has not only saved me money (his bartering skills are fantastic!) but I’ve finally solved the problem of outer garments to wear in the heat, as with his help I had them made up.

But what seems uncanny is that Ben was having problems with his laptop, which after a bit of fiddling about with I managed to sort out. I’m extremely thankful we met and I’m also very aware that I seem to be meeting the right person(s) at the right time.

Ben, or to give him his muslim name, Ibrahim.

I haven’t been in Mauritania that long, but it has already made a big impression on me. I’m fascinated by the locals and how they seem to take every opportunity to try and eke out a living. Roadside vendors are everywhere plying their trade and you can find just about anything if you look around. This shop below was doing good trade when I passed by earlier in the day (but wasn’t able to photograph).

The local tyre shop.

And the local car wash had no shortage of customers.

The local car wash.

But what has really made me smile has been the food, which I’ve found cheap, varied and excellent. Eating in the local fast food outlets has also introduced me to more locals and I’ve gained some useful insights and information that will undoubtedly help me with my future plans, more on this later. Tonight I treated myself to ice cream, which I’ve been craving for weeks. It was quite expensive in Morocco, so I thought I’d splash out with £1’s worth here and as a bonus I can use the container for my boiled eggs!

A very special treat: Ice Cream!!!

And on that note I’ll end and go do battle with the mosquitoes. More soon…


Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

Just to let you know I truely enjoy reading your blog. It feels like sitting on the backseat of your bike !
Good luck, enjoy to the max !

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

Auberge Sahara in Nouakchott seems to have gone distinctly upmarket since I was there.

My first time I stayed in the tent in the garden for UM 1,700. Notes from my second visit, “The auberge is a safe haven but expensive (UM 7,000 for a room) and the whole place has an uncared-for air. The wardrobe door falls off when I open it, there’s rubble on the floor in the corner of the room. The room is lit by a single low-voltage bare bulb in the ceiling, the shower is a dribble of tepid water and the air conditioning doesn’t work. Mosquitos are everywhere, the flyscreens on the windows have holes in them and the mosquito net has a serious tear.”

I think you are getting a much more accurate impression of the countries you are visiting by travelling at a slower speed.

Friday, March 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Tim, it really wasn’t bad at all, the bit’s I saw. The shower looked like a new head fitted and water was hot most of the time – the best shower so far for me. My self imposed budget wouldn’t stretch to a room (from UM 5,000) so I slept in the rooftop Khaima for UM 2,500. Yes there were mosquitoes everywhere and after an unsuccessful attempt to repair the net supplied, I used my own which I bought in the town. It was nice to use the clients kitchen to cook and make drinks etc.

They were actually painting and doing it up while I was there because it is changing hands again, the new owner looked like he had big plans for the place and was very smartly suited up.

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi Derek,
We arrived in Nouakchott exactly 1 year ago today from London. My kids and I really enjoyed your post.. There is def. beauty in this place. Thank you for reminding us of it’s beauty again after the ups and downs of settling-in. Looking forward to your next posts…The kids are asking where did you get your ice cream from?? LOL

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Hi Mona,
I’m so pleased you are enjoying my blog but I’m afraid I can’t help you about the ice cream except to say it was a shop just around the corner from the auberge!
But seriously, I’ve taken a look at your own blog and I admire what you are doing, it takes real courage. I had hoped to visit your homeland on my travels, but it seems very unlikely along with Mali. I’ll follow your blog with interest. Be blessed.

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