After over half the crew buggered off to Senegal, the rest of us ventured into town, and promptly got lost amongst the narrow streets. Somehow we stumbled upon a market of sorts and stocked up on some rather sad looking veggies. Then it was on to a campsite on the beach, near the famous fish market. Having watched the “fleet” return from a day’s fishing we secured some fresh fish for dinner.
The following morning we attempted to find the “Grand Marche”, which we did, eventually, and were rather disappointed by the wares available. Mainly old tat, no food. A taxi ride to the supermarket wasn’t much help either, so we got some e-mail sorted and left. Goodbye Nouakchott.
The next few days consisted of long drives and some amazing bush camps. The nicest being at the base of the “Massif de l’assaba”, the first range of hills we had encountered in Mauritania. An attempt at a shorter path to Mali came to nothing, as we turned off at Kiffa, heading towards Kankossa, the road petered out to a deep sandy track. Normally we would have attempted it, but with only 5 of us, and as a recce showed, it went on for quite a distance. Back track number 1. The next town we came to was Tintane, and after securing some goodies for dinner, including a nice bit of goat, we discovered a new lake in Africa! The road ended where some flooding had claimed half the town, and we were forced to take a deviation. Not such a “dry” country after all!
On to Ayoun el ‘Atrous where we turned south towards Mali. That afternoon’s bush camp provided the course for the Mauritanian round of FANG (Frisbee African Nations Golf) a win by 2 shots and I am firmly in contention for the trophy!
We are currently in Kayes, by the Senegal river. The crossing into Mali was easy and the difference is palpable. People are friendly and seem much happier with their lot. The first market we visited in the border town of Nioro du Sahel, was amazing. The first true taste of black Africa, with all the colour, noise and vibrancy one expects. We even managed to purchase a crate of beer from a Nigerian lady! Jaap has been displaying a massive grin since entering Mali, and all are enjoying it so far. For many the journey has just begun.
Some friends have said ‘you must have endured such hardship wandering in out-of-the-way corners of the earth’. I have. But such count for nothing, since I have lived in nature’s halls and drank deeply of her pleasures…where does hardship figure when the reward is such?
Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930) from Plant Hunting (1927)