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What a let down.

Nouakchott, Mauritania


We arrived in Nouakchott in the dead of night. The journey was long but the roads looked captivating with the sand blowing in a sea of waves across the tarmac. We almost ran over a camel earlier on during the day so we were keeping our eyes peeled there weren't any ready to jump out and surprise us. We stopped outside a big house / compound where the guys could eat and Kat could use the loo. The place was like an abandoned hotel where people were living in the run down rooms. We went up to one apartment that was full of mosquitoes and some men were asleep in mozzie nets in a room. Kat's tummy was hurting and the toilet happened to be one of the worst we've been in yet. It was pure filth! There was no running water and looked like it had never seen a bog brush. That wasn't the only problem though. Kat used the last of the loo roll and Ben had to go as well...

After Aziz and Habib had finished eating, we returned to the camions where Ben made his excuses to go on the hunt for tissue. Kat had disappeared off to bed at this point as it was 2am and a cold had also broken with her, so she missed it when Ben collected bottle labels to wipe his arse with. The sad yet funny part was that after squatting and doing a shit that resembled a cow pat, he tried picking up one of the labels out from under a rock which caused them to all blow away in a gust of wind. As if someone above was humoring him, a pair of Bermuda shorts were blown his way in the same gust of wind. The opportunist he his, he snatched them up and wiped away.

Having to endure the toilet again the following morning, Kat was feeling lousy. The day unfortunately didn't improve when went with Aziz and Habib to get their lorries unloaded and then went into town with Aziz. We smelt something fishy then as Aziz had told us to leave our bags. Why go all the way into town and not get dropped off?! Well we were right to trust our instincts as he drove us to a cash point. We had already decided to give 12,000ogli so got out that and some more for the money belt. Driving back to the depot we felt sick to the stomach as we were worried what was to come. On arrival Habib came to say goodbye to us and after hugging and shaking hands he said "Aziz drop you in town and you give him 1500 dirhams". WHAT?!? That's 150euros! We explained that we had some money for Aziz but not that much because we were hitch-hiking and the buses were too expensive. On telling him and Aziz who turned up at this point that we were going to give 12,000 ogli (£28). After much debating and we saying that a price wasn't mentioned to us otherwise we wouldn't have rode with them, the 2 men walked off to talk. We had another 4000ogli in our wallet which we previously told them was all that we had left and gave it to them to smooth things over as much as possible. In the end they accepted the 16,000ogli (£37) and Aziz drove us back to the derelict house on the outskirts of the town. We said our goodbyes, Aziz taking us up in a big bear hug and forced Kat to take 1000ogli note for a taxi. We decided to walk with our rucksacks instead and head to the shops for much needed loo roll and water.

Once we got supplies, we walked around looking for a hotel in the blazing heat. Kat was feeling pretty light-headed and seeing little paws belonging to cats facing upwards and embedded in the sandy streets. It was pretty awful and an image that'll stick with us.

We were stopped a few times by street sellers and one man who approached us insisted on giving us gifts. A bracelet each and invited us into his shop to meet his family. Giving the man the benefit of the doubt we went with him and listened to him tell us about Mauritania and his family in Senegal. He cut to the chase after a while and asked us to buy a bag of rice for his baby's naming ceremony the next day. Hearing about so many different cons, we told him we didn't have any money on us and couldn't help for the moment. Trying to give the gifts back he wouldn't accept them and wanted us to return later for food. Once we eventually left and found the road with hotels on we were pestered again by a man trying to get us to stay at his campsite. Kat was ready to lie down and never move again at this point so we swiftly went through the hotels trying to find one with the lowest price after some serious haggling. 14000ogli was the very lowest and the room looked more like a suite so we agreed to the price. It had air-conditioning, TV, seating area, balcony and an ok bathroom which became essential in the following 72hours.

Kat got from bad to worse so we stayed there for 3 days until she felt a bit better and the antibiotics kicked in, which Ben painfully got from the local pharmacy. We say painfully because Ben's French is really bad so with embarrassing hand and body gestures he managed to get the Doctor, pharmacist and a helpful assistant to understand Kat's condition. so we decided to risk the journey to Senegal.

We didn't get great vibes from Mauritania and it didn't help with the hotel receptionist constantly knocking on our door to take payment - Ben's cash cards weren’t working and Kat's cards were not accepted which caused a few problems but were solved with the thanks to Ben's dad. So after those few days of illness, watching lots of TV and Ben trying his best to play nurse to Kat (with only a few mishaps), we were ready to move on and decided to risk the journey to Senegal.

permalink written by  Kat and Ben on July 5, 2009 from Nouakchott, Mauritania
from the travel blog: Kat & Ben's World Adventure
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