It was kinda what I was hoping for, but I had made the mistake of expecting another Sudan, but just on the other side of The Sahara. Mauritania is very much it’s own country and while you can easily make comparisons between the two, neither is remotely a copy of the other.
The road running along the far south of the country is in fairly good condition and without going completely hardcore, the only way to get to the coast and north. I was expecting the road blocks, especially in the far east, and had planned for them by writing out a sheet with all my and bike’s details and then getting 40 copies. What I hadn’t planned on was just how many check points there would be- in some places within sight of each other. So, with my ride slowed down dramatically I was able to enjoy the scenery- from the little villages buried deep between the dunes to be as close to water as possible.
To impressive rock formations rising out of dusty plains.
To the unfortunate reality of human ignorance at the entrance and exit of each village. These piles were nothing new, but the lack of undergrowth just painted them more starkly than the jungle ever did.
A lovely shot of the road…
Until you take the blinders off…
As disturbing as these scenes are to ride through and as annoying as the endless road blocks may be, the riding is still spectacular. Yes, the road is pretty much straight and in good enough condition to be no challenge. And yes, freedom of movement is limited both by the terrain and security services. Just like the country itself, a simple listing of pros and cons weighs heavily against it. Unlike Sudan, it actually weighs heavily enough to keep you from quickly forgiving it its faults, but by enjoying and accepting it on its own terms- both as a country and a ride- you get to savour the points that do shine through.
Roast camel is not one of them.