I am so excited. I don’t know why. Just a “STRONG” feeling of positivity energy going thru my veins.
Well I am in Mauritania. I don’t realize it or don’t believe it? Im not sure. The borders from Western Sahara to Mauritania was easier then I had heard. (I sometime wonder what my followers think about me. I question myself too!) Believe me my brain is doing fine.
Here I go;
Most people would think there is nothing to do or see in this country. Only sand! sand & sand. It’s understandable, 90% of the territory is situated in the Sahara.
BUT there is ALSO old tribes, oasis, villages, cities even wild animals and lots of goats that ate carbor. and lots of history.
Officialy the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF MAURITANIA. 40% Haratin( black moors) 30% Arab-Berber( white moors) and the rest 30% Halpulaar, Fulani, Mande and Wolof. Their religion Sunni Islam. Also it the last country in the world to abolish slavery, in 1981 and crimilized it only in 2007. Just a complex picture of this country.
North Africa within the ancient Magherd. Berbers occupied what is now Mauritania beginning in the third century AD. Arabs under the Umayyad Calphate conquered the area in late seventh century, bringing Islam, Arab culture, and the Arabic language. Long story short, in the 20th century France colonies. Then Mauritania gang independence in 1960. In the 2019 Mohamed Ould Ghazouani was elected. He was considered Mauritania first peaceful transition of power since the independence.
I had a plan. I read there is a train transporting iron from A mine near the border of Algeria to the Port of Nouadhibou the ” Baie du Lévrier” both with power plants and linked by a 700km railway. Taking the train from Nouadhibou to the the mine it’s empty! And it’s free. I will jumps in but first….
I had to go in town. I need money! Water and food. I found a hotel. “Le Bon Choix ” The hotel wasn’t cheap. It’s only for one night I said to my self. Then began the search of a working ATM. By that time, the sun had set. I was a bit anxious to walk around a new city in a new country in the evening. I couldn’t take a taxi I have no money!
Apparently they don’t keep to much money in ATM machines. Or they are slow to refill! I walk thru the entire city asking for a bank & ATM. No body knows. The only solution continues my search. I didn’t want to ride my bicycle in town ether. At my entering inthe city the taxi drivers where not easy to negotiate. I can’t imagine myself fighting for a bit tar in the evening. Finally I found an ATM on the other side of town not far from the Spanish ambassy?! After all that walking I felt more confident and secured. Walking is a great way to visit the city and meet people. Now I had money did have enough coverage to jump in a taxi back to my hotel. During my walk I found a great restaurant. Went back. Had a great dinner. You know what is cool when there is working foreigners? There is more luxury choice of food and place to stay.
The name of the Hotel “Le Bon Choix”. Can you imagine me asking people for a good affordable hotel the answer was ” LE BON CHOIX”! I would say yes , witch on? ” LE Bon CHOIX” !! It took me a few seconds and a finger pointing to the hotel to understand. Expensive yes I soon understood why. It is an apartment. The service was great and the breakfast delicious. I need it that after the ride of Western Sahara.
The next day I stroll around the supermarket “Le bon Choix”! Same owner. I need to stack up for my journey through the inland desert aventure. I think it would take me two weeks.
The cities, towns and village are long distance in between. Most of the time it’s’ in cities I can buy supplies & water but they are far in between. I was told that I will find water along the road. Police check point controls and small village. The water in the villages are in big balloons ‘sac’ at the entrance. In the desert there is oasis and wells. 🤪 Actually most villages I have ridden through were in oasis.
There is one thing for sure. I am enjoying every heart beat I can. A deep thinker wrote “We go where our thoughts goes”. I do believe it’s true for me. I am living it everyday.
I get to the train station around 15:00. The departure is due at 16:00. It doesn’t wait. I was told. So I wanted to be ready for all surprises.
I was also told that men will try to get some cash from me. I did have that experience before. I’m ready. The staring &the talking about me. Some guy just came to say it was dangerous around here. Then an other was saying I had to go inside to buy a ticket to reserve a sit. Then other came saying he was a police and need it to have a look at my passport. Good I knew what to expect. I said no only at check points the police ask for passport, and at the border. Then he is trying to intimated me. I just got up and puch my bicycle towards the crowd of people waiting for the train to come. The men started to laugh. I laughed too. I said my goodbyes
Now, I got to figure out how am I going to climb up the car ladder with a bicycle? Some young men sat beside me. At first I wasn’t confortable. Then I thought about my problem. I ask where they were heading? They are going to the mine to find work.
I told I what was doing here in Mauritania with a bicycle. I ask them if they could help me put my stuff in the train. So we end up together in the same wagon. It was easy now that I had help. These men are traveling very light.
I’m surely having a extremely interesting experience. I won’t be going to the end of the train line. I’m getting of at Choum. By that time I will have been in that wagon for about 27 hours. Oh my was I happy to get out of that wagon. Couldn’t sleep. The black/gray dust is everywhere. Even in my lungs! I did have two masks, goggles and all covered up. When it stop in Choum, I had a few minutes to get out. I threw all my panniers overboard and Mr.Minou was hanging out for me to catch him. Believe me nothing was easy. I couldn’t ride. I am just working with high adrenaline. It’s still dark. My lamp on my forehead a say GOOG LUCK to the brave men. I’m still on the train tracks. The stones are as big as my fist. I see the army compound beside the railway. The gardien did not want me camping. I ask again then a man arrived look at me and showed me a place to camp. It wasn’t a long sleep. It was already getting to hot.
Start my day washing myself. Yes there was toilet & water. Filled water bottles with fresh water 8L. I was so surprised to see a real village in the desert. Oh am I learning. This is going to be a very special journey.
I don’t know why I didn’t have breakfast in town. I suppose I didn’t realize that there was something for travelers. For future cyclist there is. The people are friendly and want to know what we ( crazy cyclist) are doing here in their corner of their world. I did have a man saying hello. I stop said hello then ask him why was he dressed so elegant? He is dressed all in white garments. The answer “to go out & visit friends”. He ask me to go to his house. I was suspicious so I declined. Few kilometers later a local minibus past by. I was a bit surprised again A bus?Then not far from me it stopped and the elegant man stepped out. He wave, I stop he gave me a baguette. He showed me where he is living. A small dusty village with a straw house. That the time I would like to be with a rider. I declined again.
We said goodbye again. It’s starting to get hot. How hot it is? 45°.VERY hot & dry!
Today I am going to go up one long climb to get on a plateau. I didn’t guiet get to the top. I was suffering from the heat. I did manage to put my tent up between big rocks. I know not the best place to get away from the heat. I had no choice. I had to laid down. I woke up about three hours later. It was very beautiful view from atop. Didn’t have in mind of taking photos. My thoughts were dwelling and thinking of getting ready to stay for the night. I went to the road trying to stop drivers passing by for water. Don’t get me wrong. I did have water but didn’t intended to stay there for the night. So I will need water by morning. I don’t understand no one is stopping
I still have a 10km onto a highway that is under construction. So I push my way in sandy parts with the cars, bus, trucks and the terrible taxis! Just thinking of a shower and a quiet place. I planned to stay 7 days at the house.
Then a jeep stops. Two men climb out and ask me what am I doing here? I explain my situation. I discovered they were chef & captain of the police control. They ask that I pick my things up they will bring me to the control officers post at about 500 meters.
They made me promise I need to camp with the control officers check points or in a village. Of course I knew that. They have drinking water, toilet and even a family living near to make food.
Everytime I enter a new country there is new rules. I need to learn for safety reasons most of the time. Between October to April. Mauritania lower temperatures so more tourists.
Well rested the next morning I was early on the road. The police were please to see me well. I must of looked terrible the night before. We had tea together thank them.
After that bad experience I had a great time. Always arriving in time to find a hotel. I did meet very interested people. We talk French and English and sometimes hand language.
I had naps every afternoon waiting for the sun to be more friendly. I really enjoying Mauritania and the Sahara. It’s fare from always the same. Country side people are quiet friendly and curious. Want to help. Make sure I had enough water. And wish God bless my journey.
There is a lot to see. I also survived two sandstorm. The third one I went thru with the SAHEL police. They arrived just in time. The guys put Mr.Minou on top of the jeep and panniers inside. There was two vehicles. So they made room for me to sit on the front seat. Didn’t miss anything.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m québécoise. l just love to play in the snowstorms back home. I have to say I did really enjoy riding in the sandstorms too. It’s a new experience. Loved it!
The first one I was on a plateau looking down at a town I was going to pass. I noticed a kind of light brown wall coming towards me. By the time I arrived in town it was on my back. I would of stopped at this point. But there was no place for me to stay. It is a very small settlement. Putting the tent up wasn’t an option. I stop at a convenient store refill the bottles. Ask for a place. No! The next city was Atar.an other 70km I think.
I did have to fight. Not with the wind, with drivers. One stop wanting to help. They had a small car. The others stopping in the middle of the road not knowing what to do. I was following the edge of the road. I was well prepared. Ski goggles, masque full wrap et dress up. The sand had no mercy in mind. Only the tips of my fingers were exposed. I did feel the sand sanding my body. I was more worried about Mr.Minou how he was handling the whole situation. By the time arrived in Atar my gears were not going normally. Sand was in the cassette. Easy to fix
As sundent the storm arrives it disappeared. I had arrive in Atar. Wow! I had read in a blog there was a camping spot with bungalows. It seems very appealing. I didn’t find the same atmosphere 😕. The pandémie cris did hit hard the tourists destinations. A nice and helpful neighbor of the campsite phone the caretaker. He actually did me a big favor. The campsite was close.
Everything was dusty. Chickens and ducks walking around. The kitchen and the huts were closed. In spite of that it was the best place me. I had planned to stay a few days. Finally I decided to get going on the forth day. Very early. To ride in cooler hours. I had a long ride to Akjoujt. I hope the wind will push me like the other days. I will do the détour to Tergit. Love mountains. And then the second sandstorm arrived. Again it was coming from behind me. Lucky me. I was riding between 35-45 km!
I met my first mauretanain that live in Montreal for about 10 years. It’s was he that started the conversation. He notices my québécois accent. He was happy to meet someone from the province of Québec. He was still working for a Canadian company in Mauritania. It is his home town. The hotels are very expensive because of the expats working in the mineral mine.
Mauritania is a leading producer of iron ore, as well as copper, gold and silver. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) notes that the mining sector – which is a core component of the Mauritanian economy – contributes 59% to exports, 9.6% to GDP, and 10.4% to the Mauritanian government’s revenue.Oct 19, 2021
An other few days in Akjoujt. Time to clean up from the second sandstorm. Suprisely in remote area in Mauritania I can have a great dinner.
From now on I will be going down from the plateau and ride in more flat area. I saw canyons with rivers. Now I am going towards Nouakchott the capital. Not much happening in between. The sceneries are changing in colors and shapes. Times it was flat and very white sand then stones on flat land. Looking like it rained stones. I also saw these mountains range to the east with flat top. Every thing is going great just hope the wind will stay on my back.
I don’t worry too much about water and food. Notice; I do bring food for a few days. Concerning the water all depends the situation. Here in Mauritania I didn’t have to worry.
I didn’t realize how hot it was because of the wind. But it was so dry my nose started to bleed. When I get to Nouakchott I had plan to stay a week. I did do some search on Airbnb. Surprise! I found one. A woman from Mauritania and living in France is offering her house for travelers like me. She was a sweetheart. Even though we haven’t met. She make sure I was confortable at her house. The place was at ten kilometers south of the capital Nouakchott. She also had a young woman from Mozambique helping at the house Ellis.
Still on the road toward Nouakchott
In small village the mosque were available for travelers. Once I did use a mosque for shade. Couldn’t get in. One day had a emergency stop at an improvised gaz station. I say emergency because couldn’t find any shade for the last 6 hours & 110 km. ( windy day). I stoped & ask if it was possible for me to laid down in the first Container home gaz station. The young man looked at me a bit puzzled and accepted. I look at the time it’s 13:55 then laid down close my eyes. Suddenly woke up it was 15:03. To early. To early to back on the road. Mohamed 2, suggested to put my feet in cold water. WOW. Then went back to sleep. At 16:00 I jumped up said goodbye. This man will have something new to say to his family & friends.
The sun is setting I must find a place to sleep. Suddenly here is some kind of huts. Look very touristy. For 7$ I had my own place. It was composed of a carpets wall to wall and beds along the wall. One light fed with solar panels. Outside somewhere behind a sand dune the toilet with bucket shower. With no light! And no door!
I will remember my trip in Mauritania
I’m almost at Nouakchott. With this wind I should be able to arrive in the capital.
It was so intense riding in the city. When i stop someone want my bicycle. ” Ilike your bicycle.Give me “. Sadly I don’t stop and take photos. Anyway nothing interesting but crazy drivers lots of people. Oh yeah. I think they see me like a ATM. And than i remember i should take photos. But then, someone very rudely says I am not allowed to take photos of people.
A bad moment
At a Carrefour I was trying to move away from the control officer trying to get drivers to obey the directions that was controlling the traffic. He sees me. For some reason he is walking in front of me so I try to move out of his way. The officer is trying to face me. I stopped. Then he said to go on the out skirt of the carrefour and wait there. I ask why? He said that I did something wrong. He will check my documents and give me a fine for disrespect of authority!? There in the middle of the street I said I had done nothing but trying to get out his way. Then I remembered other officers thinking that the lamp on my helmet was a camera. So I say I have proof, everything is filmed on my camera. “We can discuss about what I did wrong”… He scream “Out of my way”. That I did. Happy I found something to help myself out of that situation.
A week of my bicycle
That was a refreshing surprise. Staying in a village and local people is always very interesting.
Now it’s time to get going. Now my next goal is the Diawling National Park. This the park that is only rideable in the dry season. I’m hoping it will be fine and some birds. I am actually near the beginning of the raining season. So the birds have started to fly south.
I heard very bad stories about crossing the Rosso border to Senegal. So hopefully it won’t rain two days in a row. Oh yeah it has started to rain.
So excited everything is going well and can find a place to sleep and good food to eat. Of cause I do get some young man trying to sell me a vacations document and the yellow fever document.
I did tell him Mohamed 4 that he was a celebrity on cyclist groups. He was surprised and than we were friends.
After buy food and water at Keur-Macene I went to the park gate. I ask it was possible to camp inside thepark. There was no problem just need to camp near the next gards camp.
Arrive I ask where I could put the tent. When I came back to wash myself and have a chat, the men had fetch water and the other had cleaned one toilet. He specified it was only for me! WOW what service. Had a great talk. Of course because I am a older woman and coming from Canada.
What a night. Rocking my self asleep with the sound of the frogs & birds. Early the next morning I am ready to ride the next 30 ich km to the border of Senegal.
I saw lots of birds and wild boars. They are funny. At first I was keeping my distance from the wild boars but then noticed they more scared of me that I was of them. They really have a funny style with their tales straight up with a woupet on the tip of their tails. At a certain point I stopped to help a cow to get up. It couldn’t. It got hit by a vehicle passing by to fast. The man with his family stopped. He thought I had problems. Wanting to help me. I ask if he could help. We concluded that there was nothing we could do to help or save it’s life. He promised to mention to the gards on his way out of the park.
Arrive I stop to have rest and some lunch. The police guards told me they sent men to see what they could do about the cow. Finally took me all morning to do the 30km. I did stop along the a couple of times.
So then one of the guardian ask me for entrance fee. I started talking about the cow while I was taking a snack and then said my goodbyes. The men laughed then wave goodbye.
Crossing the border on the Mauritanian side was easy. Then the Senegal was a bit more formal but nothing to complain about.
I can’t believe I was finally out of the desert zone. Now going towards Saint Louis. I do have a cracks in the rear rime. So probably I will need a new wheel from Canada.
Hope you enjoyed my little story. The journey Africa has just begun.
Hope to read your comments soon.