I have now reached Nouakchott in Mauritania.
I decided to go via Nioro rather than Nema and got in last night. Things are a lot more Arabic here than across the border, it is strange what a difference a line on a map can bring.
I had to wait for 7 hours at the border, who knows what for. They didn't stamp my passport either so I am hoping that this won't cause problems when I cross into Morocco. I think that they will try it on but it will be ok. It seems a lot more arbitrary than in other places as I had real problems getting an entry stamp in Mali and ended up getting an immigration stamp in Bamako instead. I don't think I'll bother trying to get one this time.
In the villages on the way down I have laid on mattresses under tents drinking mint tea for hours. The water is still kept in goat skins. When I had read books that mentioned this I had always thought of a pleasing flask shape with the leather perhaps decorated. I have since discovered the reality - it looks like a goat hung up. You pour water out of (what I hope is) the neck.
The land turned to desert before my eyes on the way up and the distinctive colour of the Sahara appeared. The dunes are so beautiful. The winds are still blowing which is very late in the season and there was a slight sand storm as we drove into town at sunset. The sun hung in the sky like a ball while the sand came off the dunes like foam off the surf. It was quite amazing.
I will head from here tomorrow to Nouadhibou. Excitingly I have heard that the coast route now has a bit of a road so I will head that way rather than inland via Choam. This means that I will miss out on the iron ore train but I feel that time is starting to get away from me and am keen to press on.
ros from URL @ 1:34 pm