The late arrival and exhausting previous day changed the plan for us. Our partners from the previous day had a very strong opinion on not go forward with today’s stage. It also was stated in the road book that the stage was extremely dangerous and though. It had never been used for Budapest-Bamako, but once part of the famous Paris-Dakar. We were not allowed to go without a satellite phone or a proper working vehicle. Uncertain about the condition of the auxiliary diesel tank and the extreme length of the day we chose to leave the race and go to Nouakchott. Have a shower, sleep in a decent bed and see the capitol of Mauritania. The decision was later verified to be the right one as just two teams were able to complete the stage before midnight.
The drive itself was not very exciting as it was tar road the whole way. The scenery changed between white sand, dust, small villages and group of houses. Camels were already a common sight for us and didn’t make us snap any pictures as we passed them by.
But we had a bit of a Sandstorm. This was blowing heavy accross the the road and probably in the deep desert as well for the others.
Arriving in Nouakchott on the other side was something to remember forever. There is just one way to describe it, and that is chaos. We have never seen anything like it, and will probably not do it again. Entering the town we also saw a guy standing along the road waiving for us. It was one of the cars in the race that had broken down because of probably some bad petrol they had bought of someone. The two guys had no experience, no tools and helpless. Luckily we had Anders and our comrades from Hungary. They just rolled up their sleeves and started finding out what was wrong.
As we stood there, more and more people approached by scooters, cars, donkey carts and by foot. It didn’t feel very ok, so not finding the fault nor wanting to spend more time we choose to tow the car to a garage. Once done, we headed towards the hotel having no local money. The hotel had no problems being paid in Euros; we got two rooms, African cleaned, and headed out to find an ATM. What we had heard and later experienced was that Mauritania was replacing and devaluating their currency. To find any ATM that worked with an European credit card was not an easy task, as the exchange rates changed through the day, they were only fixed and available in the morning just after opening hours. The streets were only sand, crowded and cars going in all and any direction. It felt very unsafe and dangerous as all eyes followed the three white men walking the street. After some tries Anders was still able to withdraw some money, as we needed to fill up with diesel the next day.
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