It is explained to me over multiple drinks that only people who believe in God deserve respect. Jews, Christians and Muslims are all equals under God. (This is only a theory obviously). Atheists however are like weird monkeys. God-fearing types should avoid them. When I ask why it is that atheists in general are happy to respect the beliefs of others, but the reverse appears to be impossible, a stony "are-you-one-then" silence descends.
Anyway, motorbikes! Great, aren't they!!!
19 Jan 05. NKT.
Take Imodium pills and put your helmet on...
Heeeeeere am I sitting on a tin can etc.
I blame Chinese beer.
21 Jan 05.
Royally fucked up on whisky (15000 ouguiya/£30/$52) and grass with Larry, person A, person B and The Defendant.
-Larry thinks The Defendant has stolen 300 euros from him.
-Person A has badly injured his hand by punching a door during an argument with The Defendant.
-Person B has started referring to The Defendant (early forties) as "granny".
-The Defendant's laugh is, after 11 weeks, begining to drive me Fucking Berserk!!!!! Dinner is tense.
29 Jan 2005. NKT.
As part of a concerted effort to find ways to pass the time in Mauritania's bustling capital, I have devised the Neil Peart Open.
The challenge is this:
How many holes of the phone's Minigolf game can you complete during the drum solo Neil performs as the centrepiece of the track YYZ?
My current record is 10 holes. Email me if you can improve on that.
Also it's my Dad's birthday. HBD!
3rd Feb 2003. NKT (sigh...)
It's out! I went to the hospital yesterday, as one does, and the surgeon said -
"OK, we can take the pin out right now if you like. That's right sonny, without an anaesthetic of any kind."
I enquired, more out of politeness than anything else, how much the procedure would hurt.
The surgeon and his assistant looked at each other. I could sense two very well controlled sniggers.
"Oh, there may be some slight pain" came the reply. I decided to go for the tomorrow-with-anaesthetic option. It's out!
Met Tiffany Coates from this very website and Toby from Germany, who likes lager and Black Sabbath. Tiff's bike has exploded a bit (i.e. chain & sprockets, suspension, battery) but she knocks up a mean veg curry.
Appendix 1[a]: An Apology.
Yes, I know the title of this bit doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but there are some better ones coming up.
4th Feb 2005. NKT.
I have managed to persuade Tiff that me giving her my battery is not the ideal solution to her exploded bike. Phew!
I may have inadvertently given the impression that three months in Nouakchott is a waking nightmare. A living hell. The Worst Thing In The World. A daily piledriver to the cranium of ennui, filth, loathsomeness and despair. Today's agenda was as follows:
1. Get up at 11 for breakfast on the verandah.
2. Have lunch.
4. Ride down to the weekly motocross event next to the beach with my new mates.
5. Eat lobster and drink beer until 2am with English and German people who are gagging to listen to Black Sabbath all night.
It doesn't seem quite so bleak now there's an end in sight.
5th Feb 2005. NKT.
The sight, yesterday, of a saucy girl in a bra on the back of a motorbike on the beach has sent Toby and I into a 36 hour spiral of Beavis and Butthead hysteria. You just don't see that sort of thing in Mauritania and I've been here 13 weeks. Louise (the female bit of Gary and Louise from Cornwall) coins the phrase "Tit Frenzy" to describe this unsettling phenomenon.
Gary and I are reduced to hot tears of helpless, moronic laughter this evening at every mention of the words "box" and "helmet".
See? I told you the titles were going to get better.
6 Feb 2005. UPS Express Office, 23 Avenue Bourguiba, Nouakchott, Mauritania.
I went to pick up my freshly-couriered camera today.
The lazy bitch at the UPS office said "S'not 'ere".
I said "Yes it is, you lazy bitch."
She said "Try tomorrow."
I said "Do you want me to phone UPS in London and tell them you can't
be bothered to go and get it from the pile, which is all of 6 feet away
from your desk, you lazy bitch?"
She said "Oh look - there it is."
I should have taken a photo of her and emailed it to Michael Eskew, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UPS, under the heading "Sack Me Today. I Am A Lazy Bitch."
I didn't really call her a lazy bitch. Not until I was in the car park.
PS - if you are DR800, you've put your email address in wrong. I think.
7th Feb 2005. NKT.
It's nearly the end of my prolonged stay at Auberge Sahara. Those guys are grrrreat.....
...and laughter with Herman
I have decided to bin several things to save weight, including my second pair of jeans. This means I will smell like an incontinent death's door tramp more often, but I should be immune to the stink within a fortnight.
9th Feb 05. NKT - Magta Lahjar.
Up at 7.00 and away at 9.00. Travelling alone again feels exhilarating for the first 5 miles, and worrying for the next 95. During one cig stop the bike blows over in the wind. I can't pick it up and have to flag someone down to help. The final 125 miles are a mixture of exhilaration and botty pain.
The road after Aleg is brand new tarmac with white lines! It's like being in England except there are camels all over the highway. There's nowhere to stay in Aleg and I've resigned myself to sleeping in a pole-less tent - a bag, if you will - by the side of the road. 25 miles shy of Sangrafa I spot an Auberge sign. It's very simple and barn-like and a lot better than the alternative. Also it's a mere 125 miles to Kiffa where there's a proper place to stay for tomorrow night.
If you're wondering, my tent poles are in Bamako. I can't remember why at present.
On the day I leave Auberge Sahara, the guests are
A. Eight completely mental evangelist/fundamentalist/missionary-ist Christians.
B. Ten underprivileged/disturbed/just plain bad teenage boys. "Enfants perturbe" in French. Not as perturbe as I was when I found out their two favourite pastimes;
1. Stealing vehicles.
2. "Making fire to" vehicles.
I foresee a re-run of the eternal battle - good vs evil. But which is which?*
The Christians are by far the most joyless guests I met there. Frowning at people and indulging in late night weeping sessions are their chosen methods of spreading the Good News.
Their leader really really really looks like a David Koresh/Rev Jim Jones wannabe.
I'm so glad I got out before the flame-throwing tanks arrived.
Uh-oh - a hole in the floor toilet. Call me a big nancy boy if you like but I haven't used one yet and I'm not starting today.
*The Christians are the evil ones of course.
10th Feb 2005. Kiffa.
There's exactly 1 pothole in the 145 miles of tarmac between Magta and Kiffa, but it's a big one. I'd still be planted face down in it now if a gust of wind hadn't blown me into the middle of the road, as I was gazing at some camels as I passed it.
I'm rushing this bit of the trip (as far as my coccyx will allow) because I want to get to Ghana ASAP. I've heard various reports about when the rains start. Also Doug is in Bamako and he's found a cheap bar (this is booze-free day number 5).
Now onto the topic that's on everyones lips - my bowels.* Here at the "Phare du Desert" auberge, they have hole-in-the-floor crappers with, unusually it seems, a flushing mechanism.
I managed to hold out yesterday (at one point I found myself addressing my complaining intestines with the phrase "sorry lads - nothing doing") but today their arguments seem to have gathered weight.
"What's the worst that could happen?" I ask myself, immediately picturing several horrific scenarios involving inaccuracy and slippage.
Of course it all turns out to be fine, and the most natural thing in the world and so on. To the uninitiated I would suggest waiting until you find one with a shower no more than two feet away.
I reckon I can get from here to Bamako in four days. But then I thought I was only going to spend two days in Mauritania.
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".
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