11th Feb 2005. Ayoun El Atrous.
A mostly-easy 130 miles from Kiffa, with a section 100 miles in of big potholes. Having read Doug's description of his pothole day I adopt his technique of imagining myself to be a spitfire pilot and treating them as bursts of anti-aircraft fire. It works up until the road becomes more hole than pot; then it's just a case of going slow and praying for it to end soon.
On the way I'm asked by a policeman for a 'cadeau' for the first time. Bidding opens at my phone; I end up giving him a pen I nicked from the hotel in Valladolid. Half a mile down the road the Customs johnny tries it on as well. I decide to refuse (smiling of course), and nothing bad happens so I go on.
By 4pm I'm in Ayoun, and that night I sleep in my first actual bed for 100 days.
This is the Last Town in Mauritania. Tomorrow - the Mali border.
I stop somewhere today and the whole village comes out to meet me. Eventually some of the women start trying to beg aspirins from me. I have to explain that I don't have any to spare, given how plastered I intend to get once I'm over the border. I think they understood. I'm guessing fist-waving is an Arabic gesture meaning "bon voyage".Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at March 10, 2005 03:29 PM GMT
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