Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finally...into Africa

Ah, now this is Africa! I finally feel as if I’ve crossed continents having left Morocco and entered Mauritania. I still see Morocco essentially as the end of southern Europe so it feels wonderful to be here in Africa at long last. Crossing the border - something I’m expecting to be fraught with administrative difficulties throughout west Africa - was surprisingly straightforward. I arrived in the border village of Guergarat on the Moroccan side and made my way through with not a taxi in sight. I needn’t have worried though because as soon as I stepped into no man’s land there, waiting almost with open arms, was Arturo Frontero, the self-styled saviour of many a cowed backpacker entering the corridor of uncertainty that is no man’s land on the way to the Mauritanian border. We quickly agreed on a price and he brought me to the Mauritanian side where the hassles - due in no small part to the fact that Arturo was widely known by all of the border officials - were non-existent. No man’s land was a depressing drive - an unpaved stretch of some 7km that served as a graveyard for many dead cars and little else besides.
A mere 5 minutes spent in the company of the Mauritanian officials and I was officially in Mauritania and speeding my way to Nouadhibou with the window down listening to a selection of Artruro’s favourites which included fucking ‘Sacrifice’ by Elton John which will now always remind me of Mauritania. Bastard. The window on the passenger side of Arturo’s taxi was stuck and wouldn’t go back up which became a problem as we drove to Nouadhibou and yours truly was whipped by Saharan sands. Every so often we’d pass a sign warning of unexploded mines on all sides - a legacy of Mauritania’s not so distant troubled past. The landscape on either side seemed to go forever - flat sandy terrain as far as the eye could see - a reminder of the vastness of this country which is twice the size of France. 75% of it is desert and it’s expanding southward all the time. On our way to Nouadhibou we had to slow several times for both the camels who sauntered across in front of us and the road block officials who want nothing more than a ‘fiche’ containing my personal details from me. Quite why they want to know my occupation every time they speak to me is beyond me but I’m hoping to have built up the courage to utter the words ‘camel mechanic’ before I leave the country in a few days.

1 comment:

  1. sounds great! have fun. I'll be in Mauri in a few days and hope that my border crossing is as cruisy as yours was. :))