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Sahara Bound, or How to Get Married in the Sahara

Found: One Zebra Bar

Mauritania to Senegal  When the Mauritania/Senegal border finally opens at 9 the next morning we fork over money to a man called Babayya to do for us what we could have done for ourselves, had we spoken French. As it is, it’s like having a tattoo on our foreheads ‘look, we are completely impotent, take advantage of us’. […]

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Rite of passage

Leaving Nouakchott, south to the border with Senegal, I am sad, saying goodbye to the sand and the camels and the goats. They probably have goats in Senegal, but I’m betting they aren’t as cute, running free, wherever they want. It’s cooler for a while, 27/86, not the intoxicating, suffocating desert heat that trumps even […]

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Nouakchott: Korean game shows and Senegalese bureaucracy

One of the benefits of backtracking was that we came across a nomad and were able to give him a ride (squashed between a bucket and the wedding dress) that probably saved him a day of walking. He looked about 120, possibly even older than me pre-Botox, so for all we know we could have […]

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Break down

We awake to the braying of a donkey. Why there is a donkey here I don’t know, we aren’t near anything. A near sleepless night. In pain and exhausted we are bent double as we go through the machinations of packing up the tent and car. We drive and drive and drive forever, past sand […]

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A bargain: $200 for a piece of rope.

Meanwhile, while I’d been having my out of body fish experience, Rick, Ryan, and Alioune were having a merry old time, drinking tea and taking Polaroids for the women that we could give to their relatives some 30 miles away (3 hours) in Chinguetti. Rick bought a bracelet but to our surprise when we left, […]

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A bucket of fish

With festivities over for now, the next day we headed out of Azougui further into the desert, this time with Alioune and Ryan squeezed into the back. The day passed without event except for a near miss with a charging goat. The goat, bounding across the road ever so much slower than its friends saw […]

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Hairstyle a la Van de Graaff

As I mentioned, a Mauritanian marriage lasts 3 days. They had shortened it a bit for us, but there was still a second ceremony planned that night. Like everything else on our trip, this one went exactly according to plan. We start the day with a double breakfast, our own (granola) because we thought Kassim […]

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Love and marriage: Mauritania style

My spirits soared as Rick, my knight in shining armor, entered the room and we could finally be together. We were allowed to hug but not talk, which I of course ignored, having been not talking for the last 11 hours. To his credit, Rick didn’t run screaming at the sight of me, covered like […]

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Back in black (aka wedding prep)

Okay, so here’s how the real deal went down while Rick was off having fun with the boys in the market demonstrating how not to barter. Firstly, in a Mauritanian wedding ceremony the men and women are separated so they don’t see each other all day. So, after the lengthy but ineffectual wedding documentation process […]

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A corrupt official is hard to find

Bleating goats and Arabic music chase us through our dreams that night. Breakfast is in an open walled, low roofed concrete shed that even Kassim, bent as he is, has to lean forward to get into. Stucco over brick, red and black patterned carpet, a plastic red ceiling under straw, held up by chicken wire, […]

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