January 26, 2005 GMT
Enough Nouakchott Already

13 Jan 05. St Louis, Senegal.

Senegal is the best country in the world. No - stop - don't even try to argue. It just is. Leave it. In the last couple of weeks at Auberge Sahara, several people had returned from Senegal in tears, whinging about the hassle at the border and everything else about which it is possible convincingly to whinge. The truth is that the border is a light exercise in patience, and St Louis is hectic, full of unthreatening chancers and home to the Bountyesque paradise that is Camping Robinson.

The "huts" on the beach with shower and toilet are bigger than my flat. The welcome is the warmest of anywhere between here and 5000 miles away (ie Petworth, W. Sussex) - thanks Edmond - there's all the ice cold Gazelle you can drink, and stupidly good garlic chicken. Really cretinously good. Oh yeah - and a palm thatched beach bar.

I'm here with Doug from Edinburgh, RTW on an Enfield Bullet. We met in Nouakchott just as I'd managed to get back on the bike (using a system of hoists and pulleys)* and rode here yesterday. The trip was a touch gruelling as the Enfield starts wheezing like Les Dawson above 37 mph, and it's 210 miles.
Oh me oh my it's good though. It finally feels like proper Africa, unlike Morocco which is Europe and Mauritania which is the Moon.

Everybody moans about the border crossing at Rosso. Sure, it's hot, smelly, expensive and confusing, but if you don't like that sort of thing you really should consider going to Wales instead. It's not hot there.

We plan to experiment with cocktails tomorrow so the next entry may be a bit garbled.

I have to go back to NKT for a bit after here for hospital purposes, but oh BLIMEY it's good to be moving again. Bike is fantastic. I love you, honey-pants. *mwah*


14 Jan 05. St Louis.

DRUMS & FISH & GIN!!!!


15 Jan 05. St Louis.

Owcha! My head... Watched crabs fighting over a dead fish on the beach before breakfast. Watched a set of four small birds hopping hilariously in unison during breakfast. Said cheerio to Doug. He's off to the Zebrabar down the road and I'm heading back to NKT tomorrow.


16 Jan 05.

How Not To Get From A To B.

1. Get Lost.
Rode 10 miles through heavy sand to get to the wrong Mauritanian border, i.e. the one through which no-one is allowed.
The Laughing Policeman - "Where do you think the border is then sonny?"
Me - "Er- here?"
The Laughing Policeman - "Ha ha ha ha ha, oh hee hee hee. I'm the Laughing Policeman - piss off."
60 mins.

2. Get Nicked.
Whups - I "forgot" to buy insurance for Senegal. Got nicked. 90 mins and a hefty bribe.

3. Get Lost Again.
Senegal doesn't do signs. 60 mins.

4. Go through the border at Rosso.
On reflection, it is a bit of a nightmare. 120 mins.

5. Have a breakdown.
The bike, not me. Fixed on Mauri side of the border but too late to continue to NKT. Road too pot-holed to do in the dark.

Thus I am forced to stay in the worst flop-house in Rosso, the worst town in Mauritania, arguably the worst country in Africa etc etc... The bed consists of three iron bars with a sheet draped over them. The bathroom is unenterably vile. I am advised not to leave the flop-house after dark. The advice includes universal throat-cutting gesture. Flopper does not serve food. Bonne Nuit!


17 Jan 05. Rosso - NKT.

I manage to scramble out of Rosso early without being murdered, and arrive back at Auberge Sahara after a freezing cold 120 miles through scrub and desert. Larry from Wexford arrives 10 minutes after me. He is even dirtier than I am, having gone to Timbuktu on public transport. Pre-lunch coffee loaded with scotch is in order. Feels like home!


*not true. I just put that in to make myself sound great.

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at January 26, 2005 03:53 PM GMT
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