From the odd start to my trip to Mauritania (the Benin airport), I arrived late at night to realize, “Man, this airport is FAR from the city!”
Oddly, there were 0 taxis available. I asked around, and they pointed me to some guy driving a 1937 box with tape & glue, and off we went.
Ah, the sweet smell of inhaling fumes and getting carbon monoxide poisoning from a car. Mmmm. I put the window down.
Given that this guy wasn’t really a taxi driver, that also means he’s horrible at directions. I knew exactly where we were heading, but he didn’t know the guesthouse. He couldn’t follow my “go left here” instructions. He called the guesthouse and didn’t do what they told him. In short: he had no business driving someone for money, but he was my only option.
After successfully turning a 45min drive into something over 90min, we arrived. The guesthouse owner cursed at the driver for being a moron, and I went to bed.
After breakfast, I went to walk around. I discovered that the airport people in Benin were right: Mauritania isn’t that beautiful. Sure, I saw only the capital. The capital, though, doesn’t have a lot to offer.
This is the national stadium.
More walking and getting lost and trying not to inhale the dust that blows everywhere.
I passed by the Saudi Mosque, which I couldn’t really tell if it was open or not. The architecture was really nice, but it didn’t seem possible to visit. I saw people entering the gate, but no sign that anyone was entering the mosque itself.
From the Saudi Mosque, I wound up near some important-looking-probably-government buildings and a road closed to vehicles. It was packed full of people shopping & bartering. It had a great vibe.
At the end, where the cars were allowed, the normal chaos of Nouakchott street traffic resumed.
I got lost without any direction or purpose for a while, just walking wherever there was shade. It was hottttt.
I wound up by this little mosque that was isolated and stuck in time. I sat in the shade here for a while, drinking water and resting. The sun is intense, and walking with sand blowing in your face + heat isn’t the great combination in the world.
One of the few signs of green I saw was this traffic circle on the way back to the guesthouse.
From there, I stumbled on an Indian restaurant and ate there for lunch. That’s always a winner for vegan food.
I took a break from the heat back at the guesthouse with a shower and a nap.
In the evening, as the sun started to go down, I wandered some more. I had to print some papers for my flights home and also use the ATM.
The papers were easy. The ATM ate my card. I sat there chatting with the bank security guard for a good 30 minutes, figuring the machine would eventually do something. Nope.
An hour later, I returned. Still stuck on the same page with an error message, and my card stuck inside. I called my bank to tell them to cancel my card and mail a new one. I gave up on the ATM, since they wouldn’t open until after I left for the airport in the morning.
With my lack of using the ATM, I paid the guesthouse owner a combination of local money, a few euros, and a few dollars for the ride to the airport early the next morning. Nouakchott really doesn’t have a lot to offer. I felt like I saw everything it had to offer, and even then I didn’t really see that much.This entry was posted in Africa, Mauritania, Nouakchott