Thursday, January 20, 2005

Aaaagh, Part One

I slept in a little, due to my being up until twelve doing the last blog. Morning in Noudibhou was cool and drizzly; the town was full of puddles and muddy sand. I bought some food at the market, ate it, and then headed for the 'garage' for Noakchott at a quarter to eleven.

The garage was a big sandy lot where a small cacaphony of vehicles were filling up. The driver of one dilapidated large van beckoned me and showed me that he had one last seat on the bench. Sure, I thought, everyone says it's only a six hour ride, I'll get to meet the locals and still be in Noakchott by five or so. I hopped in.

And waited. While they loaded more stuff. While they stuffed more people. While they got gas. During the police check. During the next police check five minutes later. Finally at one o'clock we hit the road.

I'm sure you can see where this is heading, so I'll spare you the details. Except to point out that the road isn't 80 percent complete, it's only 50 percent complete, with the rest varying between good gravel and work in progress. Also, even though it seemed like we were hauling ass, we must have ended up averaging about 30 miles an hour.

Nor were there that many stops. Just one for urination and/or praying to Mecca, then another, then a third. Oh, and then for changing two tires. And for getting unstuck out of the sand. Not to mention how miserably drizzly and cold it was. We pulled into Noakchott at midnight.

The scenery got a little interesting in the beginning, with the ugly brown landscape starting to show a little rise and a few tiny ridges and hillocks. But even that flattened out after a while, so there wasn't a hell of a lot to see through my dirty, smudged window. I did get to think a lot, as my back was inexorably smashed by the interminable jouncing, about what an absolute total failure and idiot that I was.

After all, I could only blame myself for this, especially as I noticed us being passed by all the nice, passenger filled Toyota Land Cruisers. Because you can't just pay attention on a trip like this, you've got to really pay attention. And I hadn't done that at the garage.

Well at least my fantasy of being mugged by the cabdriver at one in the morning didn't pan out, and the hotel we eventually found was warm and inviting and English speaking.


At 8:54 AM, Blogger Charles Darwin said...

" I did get to think a lot, as my back was inexorably smashed by the interminable jouncing, about what an absolute total failure and idiot that I was."

It finally dawned on you?

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