|A slightly more relaxed start to the
day as we felt as though we had broken the back of the challenge
yesterday. We had some group photos taken before setting off about
We drove 150km together before leaving the Citroens to go
the border at Rosso. The rest of us followed the gravely and sandy
‘piste’ to the border further to the west. We were sad to see the
French guys leave.
The piste was quite rough at points but interesting as we began
to pass through some villages and the landscape became greener –
more like your typical African bush scene.
The camper van was at the back and had got behind so when we
went through a sandy section we all stopped as we were concerned
that he wouldn’t make it through with his two-wheel drive. We were
right. He got stuck. Much to Neil’s delight it was our job to pull
him out – our first recovery! The Mpudi did the job splendidly and
in no time we were on our way again although we did decide that the
camper van really should go at the front for the next stretch.
Having the French guys at the front meant one thing – they had
power over when we stopped for lunch and this we did not long
later, at 12 noon sharp. To be honest we were quite frustrated as
we were focussed on getting to the border, but we were wrong as it
ended up being a great moment.
Here we were German, British, South African, Brazilian and
French, sitting in the middle of the Mauritanian bush. We all
imagined a brief sandwich stop but Marc had other ideas. “Coffee
anyone?” he asked and then proceeded to produce from his van the
most enormous espresso machine I have ever seen and served us all
freshly brewed coffee. When Marielle produced some delicious French
biscuits I realised that this was the most civilised lunch stop we
had had since leaving the UK and certainly the most surreal. For an
hour, we did all genuinely forget our worries and thoroughly
enjoyed each other’s company and the surroundings, especially when
a camel and a large monkey wandered past. Something we’ll surely
This interlude also confirmed one thing to us. Absolutely
nothing, not even the imminent threat of terrorism, will keep a
Frenchman from his lunch and coffee.
We stopped once more to watch the flocks of pelicans in a bird
reserve and then, with a huge sigh of relief, made it to the
border. The arrival for us was slightly tainted by yet another
problem with the car but we were encouraged by the fact that our
convoy included a mechanical engineer and two people who work for
the company who produce all the welding equipment for Land Rover
chassis. Considering that the problem is going to involve welding
our chassis, this was pretty reassuring and we also couldn’t be
anything but grateful for the fact that this debilitating problem
(our anti-roll bar coming away from the chassis) had happened just
minutes before we arrived at the border.
The border was long, tiring and unpleasant and we didn’t make it
out until almost dark. Thank fully, everyone was sticking together
for at least one more night so we followed Patrick to our campsite
right by the sea. Driving in convoy through the streets of St Louis
in the dark with people all over the road was quite stressful but
this is supposed to be a beautiful place which we look forward to
exploring in the light.
The tension really released when we turned in to the campsite.
We all celebrated in the restaurant over several Senegalese beers
and a delicious meal. There was such camaraderie and we were so
happy to be chilling out with all these fantastic people after the
last nerve-wracking days.
These will probably end up being some of the most significant
memories of our trip.