Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Night in Nouakchott

I left Hadya and her mother and hailed a taxi to take me to Auberge Menata, a hostel/lodge that caters to overlanders and backpackers. The taxi driver sweetly offered me his details on a scrap of paper, in case I needed him to take me around Nouakchott.

Mauritanians had been really hospitable and friendly to me so far. Bamba had passed me off to Musa, who had seen me to the bus, where Hadya had keep an eye on me, and now the taxi driver also was taking an interest in me. He delivered me to the door of the lodge, where another young hotel worker kept an eye on me. I've forgotten his name, I'm afraid. It might have been Amadou. If it weren't for all the desert, dust, and police checks, I would have hung around longer just to enjoy the hospitality.

I was quickly installed in my own room, and I went out to find dinner. The place I'd chose—around the corner—was mysteriously closed, so I walked randomly, ending up at a fast food place where I ordered (crankily) a chicken schwarma. A group of Mauritanian teens sat at the next table, shooting photos of each other with one of them's new digital camera. The waiter sat down and tried to chat with me in English, which was sweet but pretty hopeless. Hunger sated, I hurried back to the lodge. I hate being out alone in an unfamiliar place after dark without a map or any real homing device.

Back at the auberge, I heard an odd accent. Sort of a German accent, but the man was speaking English. Austrian? No, Swiss. Swiss-German.

The speaker was an incredibly tan, lean, older man with a mop of white hair. I ended up talking to him somehow, and quickly learned that he had cycled down from Malaga, on the same route I had taken, but under his own power. Madman! He was a cherry farmer who could take off about four months a year. He'd cycled across East Africa and the US previously.

We both ended up under the tent in the backyard, where the staff poured tea and while one of them petted his new puppy, the others expressed their regrets over the loss of Tupac.

"Really? He's been gone for so long!"

"So has Bob Marley and we are still sorry for this too."

They were all still drinking tea and playing Bob Marley well into the night. I think they only had a single Bob Marley CD, and it was on repeat until late, and it woke me in the morning.

1 comment:

  1. Except for being so beige, Mauritania sounds like a really nice place. It sounds like the kind of place where getting to know the people would make all the difference in the world.