Friday, 1. 12. 06
Today I will cross the border to Mauritania and leave Dakhla at 7 o'clock in the morning.
As I reach the Moroccan border post at 11 o'clock surprisingly only a few people wait for their formalties.
I get the stamp quickly and drive to the the barrier. The soldiers wish me a good journey and I leave Morocco.
Suddenly the good tarmac road changes into a bad piste which leads through a mine field.
8 kilometers later I suddenly see a barrier next to some old and desolate huts.
I reached the Mauretanian border post.
The soldiers ask me for my passport and examine my visa.
As everthing is fine with my papers and we talk about the entry stamp one of them asks me for a small gift or something I would like to leave behind.
Whereupon I donít understand anything anymore and may drive on.
The second way leads me to the customs in order to import the bike.
I must sign an explanation of honour, in which I assure that I will also export the vehicle again.
Likewise, a foreign exchange declaration is required.
Approximately one hour later and after buying the mandatory motocycle insurance I enter the country.
Compared to modern Morocco Mauretania is a totally different world.
People live along the road in simple tents and cars are partially driven without number plate.
I drive into Noudhibou and the atmosphere is not particularly pleasant.
Everywhere besides the road the goats eat the waste and the people sleep next to it
The lodging there is quite ok and I take a room for the night.
Since there are no cash machines in Mauritania, I change my remaining Dirhams at the camp site to a far better rate than in the bank.
Everyone here wants to have foreign money, therefore the rates at the black market are very good.
Saturday, 2 December 2006
Today I start early and hope to reach Nouakchott.
I have to do 500 km through the Sahara. Since somewhat more than one year there is a new road and the distance can be done in one day.
I fill the bike up in Nouadhibou and drive off. According to informations of some local drivers there should be one gas station after 70 kilometers and then nothing until Nouakchott.
However this gas station has no fuel as I arrive there.
As I ask the owner whether there comes another one he says after 90 km.
Fortunately thatís true, but the fuel price is crazy. 2 Euros per litre and from a plastic can!
As I pay the service-station guy he naturally asks me for a gift.
Today I finally see the real inhabitants of the desert and one of them places itself exactly behind my motorcycle.
After a hot day in the Mauretanian desert I reach Nouakchott in the late afternoon.
By chance I find a small lodge in the middle of the embassy quarter, run by a French girl.
The athmosphare is excellent and the whole garden is full of jeeps and tents of other Africa travellers. I place my tent on the roof, protected by the trees and with a great view over the city.
In the evening we all sit together and have a braai.
Sunday, 3 December 06
Today I spend a day looking around town.
When you see, how poor some of the districts are you really try to think of a possilbe reason for that.
Generally Mauritania is a very poor country, at least compared to Morocco. On the other side the country has got a lot of resources and the sea is suitable for fishing.
The longest train of the world goes from Choum to Noudibou and thereby carries iron-ore from the Sahara mines to be shipped all over the world.
At the moment 8 international fishing companies operate in the port of Noakchott and catch approximately 20 tons per hour.
For sure they pay for it but the benefit for the coutry is small if you consider the price of one kg of tuna fish in Europe.
In Mauritania telecommunication business is booming big time. The Big Players build themselves palaces in the city and there is hardly anybody on the street who doesnít have a cell phone, although without credit most of the time.†
Monday, 4 December 2006 - Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Today I visit UNICEF Nouakchott and speak to the secretary. I will have the opportunity to see a Fieldoffice and interact with the children to get a good insight of the work of UNICEF Mauretania. It is great spending two days with them.
Thursday, 7. 12. 2006
Actually it was my original plan to drive to the Senegal and then on to Dakar in order to get to West Africa.
Because of the annoying and often corrupt formalities at the Mauritania/Senegal border and my idea of seing some more of Mauretania, I decide to take the famous Route dīEspoir (road of hope) to Mali.
This road leads over 1000km from Nouakchott to the border to Mali. Directly between the southern stretches of the Sahara and the Sahel. The difficulty of driving this route is that the fuel supply is not always garanteed.
There are gas stations, but very often they are dry.
For me that means that I would have to carry 70 litres of fuel. Since I cannot transport such large quantities at the motorcycle, Iím lucky that some other travelers from France would carry 40 litres of fuel for me. They are on the same way so we will travel together.
The Route díEspoir leads through a beautiful landscape of sand dunes and later changes into the low bushlands, the Sahel.
We drive approximately 350 km today and spend the night in the bushes. As we build our camp for the night some men come out of the night, and offer us camel meat.
The evening is saved and at a true feast develops at the campfire.
Friday, 8. 12. 2006
The first sunrays wake me up in my tent and I climb outside into the enormous width. We pack our tents and drive the vehicles back on the road.
As I check my bike tires I get shocked. They are full of clusteres of star shaped thorn balls! Thrown off by thorn bushes.
Really unbelievably what these tires can bear, some of the thorns are over a centimeter long and go deep into the rubber. Nevertheless I lose no air and can drive on without problems.
Behind the small town of Aleg the road passes by some bizarre rock formations and leads into the mountains.
Beautiful for the motorcyclist, but one is never alone on the road.
As the sun goes down we leave the road and pitch our tents in the cover of some bushes. From here it stands 200km to the border and tomorrow we will arrive there around noon. We spend the evening at the campfire.
Saturday, 9 December 2006
Today' s journey goes over Ayoun towards Mali.
As I stop for a short break, approximately 80km before the border, a familie of nomads asks me if I would like to share their carpet and have lunch with them. In addition they offer me some camel milk.
It is exactly these coincidences that make journeys so unbelievably interesting. Mauritania was an example of how important it is to take some time to better get to know a country. So unpleasant it was to spend the first days in the large cities, so merrely and friendly the people received me in the Sahel. One of the poorest places on earth.
A few hours later I leave Mauretania and enter Mali.