Distance 560km, Western Sahara to Mauritania
Well I did these things:
1. Woke up in a tent on a warm sandy beach.
2. Rode my motorbike through the Sahara desert
3. Crossed the tropic of cancer
4. Exited Morocco and braved their customs
5. Crossed no mans land, a 3km stretch of wasteland between the borders littered with discarded vehicles and surrounded by land mines.
6. Entered Mauritania after about 2 hours of forms and waiting. (And about 200 euros in visa and customs fees and ‘other payments’).
6. Got fuel from a man at a hut selling fuel from plastic cans
7. Rode through even more desert but getting really hot now.
8. Had dinner with a cafe propriator and customs officer, neither of whom speak English.
9. Watched football on tv with a load of Mauritanians. Those that know me will understand how bizaar that is.
10. Watched something that for me was extraordinary but for billions of others tonight was very ordinary. Just before 8.30 every bus lorry and car started pulling into the service station. Everyone got out and was milling around. Then the call to prayer went out and they all filed into a little mosque in the corner. 10 minutes later and they are all getting back into their vehicles and leaving. The power of faith.
10. To finish this amazing day I am sleeping on the floor of a large room at the cafe. And although my instincts on arrival were to be fearful, I feel completely safe.
For those of you who came home from work and watched Coronation Street, shame on you, you should get out more.
For any travellers coming this way in the future the visa is 120 euros, customs about 30 euros but somehow you have to pay 50. All can be paid in Dhiram as well. I did object to the customs but was not going to push the point. I used a fixer called Gambia (from Gambia). You could do it without one but for the 200 Dhiram I gave him I was happy with his help. Other fees were 25 euros for insurance up to 10 days. I also got a phone card and some Mauritanian money at the border.
Tomorrow, after so much time and money getting into the country, I plan to get out again. Although that may take a day or two! !