Saturday, April 29, 2017

Southerly or Easterly Decisions

Cold but comfortable, in a bungalow with views to the sea at Camping Terjit
Beside the Atlantic ocean at Camping Terjit, just north of the Port de Peche with all the fishing boats back
Camping Terjit, excellent food prepared by Ivorians

We woke up deciding to have a day off from driving so I could catch up with my former bosses from Civil Aviation and we could decide what to do next.  Christophe had already made up his mind to continue with me, as far as Bamako hopefully.  We had slept reasonably well in a bungalow at Camping Terjit but it was cold outside.  The shower fortunately had hot water but the plumbing was something else, the base of the shower was almost two feet above floor level so getting into it was interesting, getting out whilst wet on tiles was just dangerous!

Setting off into town, we headed for Auberge Sahara knowing we could probably get advice from people there about the Route de l'Espoir.  It's the road that heads east out of Nouakchott, a road I'd never been on but heard lots about, essentially it was the quickest way to Bamako; we knew Ahmed our Ivorian friend from the border was heading that way too.  We also needed to get Malian visas but it was 24th December and therefore the embassy was closed despite several phone calls to consular officials.  However everyone at Auberge Sahara told us that crossing into Mali via Ayoun al Atrous/Nema and this route was off limits in reality, it could be done but could also be dangerous with AQIM in the region.  Christophe was still keen to go, I wasn't keen on dealing with Senegalese officials which was our other choice, to head south.  

My former colleagues joined us at Auberge Sahara, we all sat around the table for a while drinking mint tea and chatting with a French guy staying there.  Both of my colleagues were vehemently against the idea of us going east.  We were then invited for lunch at a colleagues house and drove off in their two cars whilst leaving Franki on the side of the road, the first time we had been parted from Franki!
Suburbian street view
Derby NHS screening outside Auberge Sahara?!

We drove across town separately in the two cars, my more senior colleague relayed recent updates of the aviation industry in Mauritania.  Finally we arrived at an extended family member's home and I was taken up the street to have my hands and feet henna'd, a present from him.  Christophe went off with my other colleague whilst I spent over an hour just getting my hands done, wondering if this will vanish by the time I return to work!

Arriving at my former boss's own home, the four of us sat chatting for some time then served a fantastic lunch of lamb, bread and various side dishes, Mauritanian style.  They were also unhappy we had spent the night at Camping Terjit saying it wasn't the ideal place to stay due to security.  We hadn't been at all worried about staying there but I was used to this hospitality of being safe in their country; it was agreed that they would pay for us to stay elsewhere for the night.
Beautiful henna with scruffy nails

We were taken back to Franki outside Auberge Sahara and told to wait for a call.  We noticed a Chinese registered vehicle, we presumed overlanders judging by the stickers all over it, but never saw it again.  Opposite Auberge Sahara was a cafe where we went and had some more coffee and waited ... for hours, to hear of where we would be staying for the night.  As it was getting dark, with cars screeching up and down the busy road in front of us, mostly boy racers; Christophe suddenly exclaimed 'there's Charlie' ... sure enough their little UK registered van had just driven past us.  So they had decided to continue south, we were shocked!  Expecting them to turn around as Franki was clear for everyone to see on the side of the road, we waited but they had obviously continued on into town.

Eventually my former boss arrived and called me to his car.  He had booked us an apartment next to Auberge Sahara, we were forever grateful, it was perfect for us and in retrospect similarly priced to Camping Terjit.  Christophe took the sumptious sofa in the sitting room, I got the bedroom.  We had a massive bathroom with hot water and a small kitchen, all we needed for our final night in Nouakchott.  We were still undecided as to which route to take, it had been the only topic of conversation between us all day.

Just before midnight, I was asleep but got a phone call, to be told that a Franco-Swiss woman had been kidnapped in Gao, Mali.  If we went via Route de l'Espoir, he would ensure the military turn us around ... the decision had been made for us, Christophe was particularly unhappy as he had no real desire to ever visit Senegal!  Tomorrow was Christmas Day ...
Chinese overlanders?
Stunning apartment next to Auberge Sahara for the night

No comments: