Day 18 – Nouakchott, Mauritania

September 19th, 2011
Today I have arranged to meet Willem van der Sanden from Maersk Logistics, and it’s a non road day. Hopefully there’s a Maersk fixer guy/agent down on the border with Senegal. I don’t have a Carnet de Passage for Senegal for the bike, which I’ve been told is not necessary anyway, But Justyna also doesn’t have a yellow fever vaccination card either, which we think is necessary to cross the border to Senegal.

Meet Willem for lunch at a nice establishment, which I also note sells beer, an interesting Islamic Republic they have here. Talk over the usual Maersk gossip and also at this point I’m realizing that will likely need to ship the bike back as I’m running out of time and new job in Turkey is starting in a couple of weeks. And frankly it just seems too far to do it all in reverse again to be honest. And I don’t fancy that head wind in Morocco and Mauritania for +1000km. Run some ideas past Willem and we agree to meet for dinner later on in the evening.

Head out to the main thing to see in Nouakchott – the Port de Peche – the old fishing port! The Pirogues and fishing boats have been bring fish onto these beaches, fresh from the Atlantic, for centuries. And little in the way they do it seems to have changed, with the potential exception of Yamaha outboard motors. Long, brightly painted boats are still launched from the beach and they bring their catch back to the beach where it is processed at the local fish market. A kind of African version of the great fish market in Billingsgate, London, and certainly going for just as long. I pass on buying some fish for the cook back at the auberge. You can buy your own fish and take it back to where you’re staying and they will prepare it for you for dinner – but we’re out with Willem tonight.

Head back to the hotel and investigate flights back to Casablanca and airfreighting the bike back, Willem has helpfully alerted the guys in Dakar for a quote as well. Come 8pm, WIllem is finished (Maersk 12 hour days as per usual) and he picks us up and we head to dinner. Nice French establishment, delicious food and far too many beers and we end up back at Willems super place in the north end of town. The night fades out from there as a bottle of excellent single malt and some rather nice cigars appeared …… although I have dim recollections of watching Dutch ballroom dancing championships at some point! Fade to black ……..

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