What the bus is all about

Read / lees in : Nederlands

Terjit Oasis / Mauritania
Just trying to stay afloat.

After my perilous adventures in the east of Mauritania it was time to go back to Nouadhibou, where I’d left my car, and continue my travels to Senegal. I found it enough to ride the train once, because I didn’t want to get accustomed to such unparalleled luxury. That’s why I chose to go back by minivan. Sidi booked a seat for me the night before and even brought me to the busstop early in the morning. What a great guy. To be honest, I was quite amazed when we left only fifteen minutes behind schedule, and that we completed the first stage, to the capital Nouakchott, punctual. After arrival I had to get on another minivan that would bring me to Nouadhibou. But that wasn’t a very good connection. Nor by time or place. So someone drove me in a car, that was held together with ducktape like every other car in this country, to the ‘terminal’ on the other side of town.

Atar / Mauritania
This passenger rode with us on the roof, in case we’d become hungry.


Once I was there the driver of the minivan couldn’t stop small talking to me even though we should’ve been on the road already. Just an hour and a half after the scheduled departure time he happily announced we were going, only to stop thirty meters down the road to fill up the tank. Another five hundred meters later we stopped at a shop where everybody wanted to pray after they got their groceries. After that we had some delay at the three checkpoints at the city limits, so just a few moments later it was time to pray again. We continued like that with checkpoints, sanitary stops, buying food and drinks, fill up the tank again etc. And during the brief moments that we were actually driving two very religious dudes, who sat right behind me, shouted Quran verses into my ears. Four hours later than scheduled we finally did arrived, but unfortunately having dinner and a cold beer in restaurant Galloufa was no longer an option.

Nouakchott - Diama road / Mauritania
What a great idea, driving with the wind in you hair.

And that was the end of number three

In the next few days I headed back to Nouakchott, where I met three Americans who are on their way to South-Africa on their bikes. They’ve been traveling for three years, and we followed a lot of the same roads. So between us there was no shortage of tall tales. There was actually nothing else on my Mauritania itinerary, so on to Senegal. I was making good progress, but around a hundred kilometers before the border I felt, apart from the vigorous shaking due to the roads being of Belgian quality, strange tremors in the car. As I continued they got worse and recognisable to me. The (automatic) gearbox was malfunctioning. I was hardly surprised, after all I had it replaced two times before already. It was just that at the time I was driving through a nature reserve, where it might’ve been quite the challenge to find a mechanic. Or a new gearbox. At the last checkpoint, about thirty kilometers before the border, all traction had disappeared from the car and it smelled like burnt oil. I added a liter of oil, that I had saved for a rainy day, to the gearbox, hoping that it would get me to the border, and to Saint Louis, that lies not far behind it……

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