Approx. 175 miles.
Eungine, Dai and I woke with the cockerels crowing and the sun rising like a huge ball of fire above the horizon that shone bright rays over the small road side village. Madame came over to shake our hands and wished us “Bonne Route” as we packed up our sleeping bags (again) then started the bikes.
The driving mannerisms of the local’s compared to Moroccans had noticeably changed for the worse. Cars often pulled out into our lanes quite aware of us being there. Ross, a fellow Canadian ABR’ had warned me of the “incomprehensible driving standards” and of worse to come.
The tarmac roads are still in good condition. Rather than a road with nothing but sand surrounding it, villages are appeaing more frequently. We slowed down significantly when approaching each village to make sure we avoid the children who run out waving their hands to say hello.
Since the Tropic of Cancer, temperatures have increased to a sweltering 40’C. Beneath a full suite of protective motorcycle clothing, we are wet through and considering we haven’t showered for three days now, well errm yes, we really smell.
Police checks are just as frequent as in Morocco but nowhere near as intimidating. We simply hand over our Fiches and off we go. During last nights bed time story, Eugine spoke of a recent kidnapping of two Spaniards on the very road we were sleeping by. Cheers Eugine. He also said that this is the reason for submitting our Fiches so in the unlikely event that anything should happen then the authorities trace up to where your last Fiche was submitted and search onwards from that point.
For lunch. We stopped at another road side village, where bedowen tents and rugs lay there in preparation for passers-by to stop, similar to our service stations, well kind of, actually nothing like them but that’s the closet comparison I can think of. The mothers and children kindly invite us to sit down on the beautifully woven rugs as the women prepared our lunch and the children played by our motorcycles.
We had no idea what to expect, you just eat what you are given. Things is, you feel terribly guilty leaving anything so we tried our best to eat the very large serving of noodles and fish. The whole meal came served on a large plate where the three of us had to share the food using our hands. One lady stayed nearby and served us tea which was poured from a great height each time our glass was empty.
As soon as we ate as much as we could, the women dived in afterwards to finish what we had left. There was one woman in particular which for some reason had to wait until last and didn’t seem to be liked by the others. The women looked frail and week so I made sure she got a serving of food before we left as I suspect the reason for her being outcast may because of her illness.
Surprisingly, one of the women then presented us with an unexpected overpriced bill totalling the equivalent of thirty pounds. In thanks to my thoughtfulness the frail women secretly told us to offer half, so we did but with a generous tip. The women were pleased and waved us on our way but not before demanding we take some pictures of them next to the bikes which we did.
By early afternoon we finally arrived in Noiukashott, Mauritania and desperately tried to locate a reasonably priced hotel so we could quickly remove our wet clothes and take a shower. Dai located a superb Auberge (B & B) for only £15 per night per person which also had secure parking for the bikes. He beats the Tom Tom and Tracks for Africa everytime.
Dai was beginning to look rough and slept for most of the day, though I suspect this may have something to do with his swollen ankle and cocktail of Ibuprofen and Anti Malaria tablets. Judging from Dai’s unusual state i.e. staring into space, I also hesitantly begin my course of Malaria tablets which I should have really started last week.
Later that night, we found the local equivalent of McDonalds only a short walk from the Auberge where we scoffed pizza, burger and chips though I’m still on the search for a Mars bar (or cake) and am destined to find one somewhere in West Africa.
Following the gruelling last few days we communally decide tomorrow should be a rest day which will hopefully allow Eugine to obtain his Mali visa and Dai’s swollen foot to heal in preparation for the 373 mile ride to Kiffa, Mali on Thursday.