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18th Oct 12′ Nouakshott – 50 miles West of Kiffa, Mauritania

October 22, 2012

Approx. 320 miles

As planned we left the Auberge in Noukkashott relatively early as we were all keen to take advantage of the cooler 34’C mornings.  Every hundred yards there were Guardermerie stop checks where we are asked to hand over our Fiche. For some reason, Eugine hadn’t copied his which meant every stop was lengthily and took us one hour and a half just to exit Noukkashott. By then the sun was well up and temperatures soared up to an unbearable 42’C. With temperatures so hot, its making this journey a real challenge with every movement being an effort.

There were plenty of fuel stops within Nouakshott but we just wanted to get out of the busy city as quickly as possible. The fuel stations then became sparse and the ones we stopped at had run out of essence as most vehicles here predominantly use diesel. Having such a large fuel tank I was ok but Dai and Eugine were running dangerously low. Luckily they managed to stay mobile until the next fuel station. When the attendant filled our tanks I noticed an unusual smell to the fuel but thought nothing of it. Further down the road we restocked with water and when Eugine attempted to start his Yamaha, it failed. I had already set off ahead and as soon as I couldn’t see them in my side mirrors I knew there was a problem and returned. Dai was not far behind and told me of Eugines breakdown and that he had told us to continue without him. We selfishly continued but due to Eugines resistance to mix with the locals I now wonder the position he is in.

Later on at another water hole, families gathered round us and the bikes as they usually did. I noticed a scorpion clambering up one of the children’s leg. The father casually brushed it off then splattered it with his sandal. We mounted the bikes to leave but Dai’s bike wouldn’t start just as Eugines wouldn’t. Straight away he realised we had been sold duff fuel. I was lucky as I had mixed the duff fuel with the half of tank I already had left. Also, I had the engine remapped back in the uk to accept a lower grade fuel. Dai filled his tank with a higher octane fuel and so it mixed the two and his bike then started and we were on our way again.

The desert had quickly turned in to green shrub land with the lone African flat top trees in the distance. It was here Dai and I both felt we were now in the real Africa we had longed for.

Up to now the roads have been reasonably tarmacked but as we head further in to Africa more and more pot holes are appearing. The biggest danger up to now have been the hidden dips which when hit at speed propel the bike in to the air sometimes landing on the front wheel; a heart stopping moment. Along todays route the locals (and Russ) have warned of road constructions up ahead between Kiffa and Nioro which means some sandy off road trails will have to be attempted. With the bikes being so heavy, this is a real concern.

In the distance was a table top mountain, the first we had seen in hundreds of miles. A bend in the road was taken with great satisfaction  as it was also the first along the long straight desert road.

Ascending the mountain top we stopped for a rest where families again gathered around us. There was a young mother and her child where I asked if she would like a photo of them together. She replied “qui merci, monsieur”. I produced the Polaroid and as the photo developed she ran back to her village to proudly show off the probably first photo they had ever seen. I’m sure it will be treasured for many years to come.

En route to Kiffa, our planned next stop, Dai noticed a hill top Auberge with more Bedowen ready pitched tents. What a perfect end to an exhilarating or should I say exhausting day!