Up early and more laughing cow cheese on baquettes for brekkie. The coffee is not as good here as in Morocco, all instant with hot milk. A few adjustments and pack the bike. Head off, but first need to find some gas money for the road as understand there are long distances between fill up points. I walk into a bank where a cashier who is passing large cubes of cash to a customer informs me that I cannot exchange money at this bank. He, less than helpfully, suggests trying a western union office down the street …. and he’s right! Funny banks they have here!
We head north up the peninsula to rejoin the main road south with a good 30km/h cross wind hampering progress. It’s 500km to Nouahchott and there’s not much in-between. Not even a town! The road here heads inland about 50km or so from the coast for most of the way. As we head inland the temperature climbs, and climbs, and climbs, until it’s at the point where you could cook a casserole! The digital air temp readout appears to be stuck at 51C. And worst off all, in our haste to leave Nouhadibou, we haven’t replaced the empty 1.5litre water bottles that are strapped onto the right hand pannier – which are usually at the temperature of warm tea!
50km, 100km, 150km, and no sign of habitation let alone the next gas station. A couple of breaks in the deadening heat are all we have. We’re almost 200km in from Nouhadibou with no sign of anything. Get back on the bike and 2 km up ahead is a gas station …. with …. no gas. But fortunately for us, fanta and lots of water which is much appreciated. Apparently 80km further on there is a gas station. We have plenty of gas so not worried. Riding along with the visor cracked open to hopefully dry some sweat off, it’s like someone pointing a hairdryer at your face, it is unbelievably hot!
We hit the next gas station and there’s a tea house and they’re selling baguettes and tea, so off course I prefer to go for a more balanced menu of chocolate chip cookies and fanta! Refuel, and we’re good until Nouakchott. Set off again in the oppressive heat. Mile after mile with stops for luke warm water and wiping the sweat off. After a couple of hours I reckon that we must be close to hitting those cool atlantic breezes again. But mile after unrelenting mile the heat just doesn’t seem to diminish. We pass a couple of photo opportunities but don’t stop. Everything is now simply just about getting out of this heat! The bike has also been having some issues keeping cool with engine temp rising to a max of 117C, a little warm for the old girl despite the fan being on, she crests a ridge and there’s another endless baking plain, and then moments later, we hit a wall of cold air, I start changing down the gears and coasting to a stop. We get off, I check the air temp, it’s fallen to 33C from 51C. Never has 33C felt so cool and welcoming. I check the max air temp, it showed 57C, so at one point we must have passed through a pocket of truly boiling air.
We’re only 60km out from our destination by this point and due to the motivation to get cool we’ve really been putting the miles behind us. We arrive into Nouakchott around 5.30pm and survey the bustling streets. There’s not much infrastructure but it’s very civilized by Nigerian standards and reminded me a little of Cotonou in Benin. Decide to rely on the great sage lonely planet again and after much directional impairment we finally find a cheap auberge for 12,000 Ougiya ((€35) which turns out to be just perfect after the roasting in the desert. “Climatisee?” (air conditioning) the French girl says … “Absolutely” says yer man!
Dinner at the auberge is excellent and we meet a Tunisian and Italian who are there for a UN project to put the entire judicial records of Mauritania into a searchable database – Danielo and Hassan. Very interesting conversation over dinner spanning aid, politics, Arab Spring, Africa etc. Crawl into bed exhausted but no longer dehydrated!
I should also note here that it was so hot that we didn’t take any pictures along the way …. !Share