Our stay in Mauritania can be summed up as:
WINDY – Mauritania was still as windy as we had experienced the last few days in Dakhla. Never fear – at some point this wind must surely die down. Camping, cooking and living outside the vehicle is somewhat less enjoyable with winds whipping up the sand. Clearly the Mauritanians have learned to live with it: they wrap themselves up with almost no skin showing! They have also come up with ingenious methods to protect their cars, including covering the bonnets and headlights with plastic to prevent the sandblasting.
CHARLIE – Checkpoint Charlie, that is. While I realise it is for our own safety, being stopped repeatedly by the “Mummy with Sunglasses” does become tiring. Most of the time they were very friendly and courteous, but still. In total, we handed over more than 15 fiches in Mauritania.
SAND: Everywhere! Every little nook and cranny. It is a desert, is Mauritania. The whole way we drove was almost unchanging scenery, continued from the 1,000km of it we passed through in Western Sahara. In the National Park we stopped at. In every campsite. Blowing across the road. In the car. In my socks.
We left Nouadibou and headed on beautifully laid black tarmac to the Parc National du Banc d’Argiun (see separate post) for 2 days. After our sojourn, we headed to a campsite 15km north of Nouakchott (Les Sultanas), and had planned to stay a few days. It was in a lovely location overlooking the ocean, and the people were very friendly (as we have found most Mauritanians to be) – they even boiled water so we could have a warm shower (or rather, a bird bath out of a bucket). However, I had a serious loss of sense of humour: I don’t mind very basic living conditions, but they have to be clean. This toilet really wasn’t.
And so, with the wind and the sand and the checkpoint-charlies and crossing-my-legs, we headed to a guesthouse in Nouakchott frequented by French travellers – Jeloua (N018 06.066’ W015 05.733’).
A charming spot, out of the wind … finally. The high walls calmed the howling wind into a gentle breeze. We had comfortable chairs on the patio, where the hours passed by as we read books, cuddled with cats and snoozed. Their washing machine was a real bonus for weary, sandy travellers.
We were within walking distance of what we needed – bureau de change at Societe Generale (the ATMS all out of cash), little supermarket where I even bought Weetabix, and a few cafes and restaurants. Best of all, across from the guest house was a French restaurant – Le Saloon – run by a Frenchman who was a cake chef in Paris for 22 years. The dinner was excellent and the deserts to-die-for!
A little indulgent, but worth every penny. It awarded us a chance to rest and relax before our next border crossing – Senegal here we come.