Day 144: Er, Why Are You Here?

24.05.09: I stayed in Auberge Du Sahara camping in Dahkla and would thoroughly recommend it. It only cost about a fiver and they even made me dinner. In the morning, twas another bit of shared taxi malarkey to the border. There I met Michel, a French guy heading to Dakar in his van. He took me the killer 3km over no-mans land, and there we waited. And waited. And waited. We had arrived at the border around 11am. By 4pm we had finally got our passports stamped into Maur-f-ing-tania. Seriously. Was the border very busy? Was it hell. I've seen more people at a pro-paedophile rally in a sink estate in Croydon. There is an old Moroccan proverb, A guest is a gift from God. I think there's also a Mauritanian proverb. A guest is about as wanted as blood in your stool. Can I recommend…

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Day 143: The Sahara, Again

23.05.09: The bus dropped me off in the desert town of Tan Tan at 7am. The guy in the ticket office back in Rabat assured me there was a ‘connecting bus' to Dahkla - the ‘border town' with Mauritania (you know, the one that's 400km from the actual border). Oh yes, there was a bus. But it didn't arrive until 11pm. Luckily there were a group of us that had fallen into the same Mauritanian border no-visas-here honeytrap, so we clubbed together and took a shared taxi the 1000km to Dahkla. Nobody spoke particularly good English, and my French is slightly worse than appalling so it was a bit of a lonely trip, I spent most of my time listening to my iPod. I did, however, pay double so I could have the front seat all to myself. After all this nonsense, I deserved a luxury…

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Day 142: Access Granted

22.05.09: I just found out that this change in the rules about getting a visa on the border came into effect LAST WEEK. Bad timing or what? And apparently there is an election this week, and after that, YOU'LL BE ABLE TO GET A VISA ON THE BORDER AGAIN!! I kid you not. What a nightmare. I was told to get to the embassy for 12noon to pick up Mr. Passpartout, so I got there at 11:15 like the feisty little scouse I am. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Whist working on my tan (a lovely shade of lobster for Sergeant Pinko here), I got chatting with a bloke from Belgium called Bernard - he's lived in DR Congo for the last thirty years. Interesting stuff - talking about the war there (which was largely ignored by the media, even though it was the…

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Day 141: Letters of Transit

21.05.09: Now I know how Ilsa felt. But at least she had Rick to save the day. I arrived in Rabat at 5am. I tried to get my head down in a hotel, but they were all full. So I sat in a café drinking coffee and writing up my blog. Eventually it was time to hit the Mauritanian embassy and get a visa into their infernal country. Outside the embassy, I got chatting with a few others in the queue who were trying to get a visa. They reckoned it would take two days to come through. No Luke, I am your father... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Two days didn't mean two days. It's Thursday today. Two days means MONDAY (the embassy won't be open Saturday, will it?). Oh, for the love of... Racing to get the form filled out, I got my application in (second! - not…

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Day 139: The Mauritania Disaster

19.05.09: Yawning and creaking, I staggered off the bus. It was still dark in Dahkla. After a particularly weird conversation involving the local police and a desert taxi driver (implying I would have to wait three days for a shared taxi to the border), I parted with 130 Euro [CHINNNNG! See those gold rings fly!] to hire all six places in the desert taxi. It's four hours drive to the border, so I kinda justified the cost - there is no real public transport, it's shared taxi or nothing, and if you ain't got nobody to share... Only (I found out later) I think the cop meant that I would have to wait three hours, not three days. Heures and Jours aside, it was a looooooong trip. Then I had to wait in the baking sun OF THE SAHARA DESERT NO LESS for an hour to…

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Day 138: Due South

18.05.09: The connection to the desert town of Dakhla - the furthest south one can go on public transport in Morocco - was seamless. I had barely arrived in Agadir before I found myself on another bus heading south at 100kph. Coolio! Cursing myself for not buying a new novel to read in Spain, and for not charging the batteries on my ipod, I spent the day drifting in and out of consciousness, until I found myself a travel buddy in Abdullah - a guy from Western Sahara who was happy to chew the fat over the dastardly Moroccans annexing the former Spanish Sahara in 1975 and flooding it full of Moroccans (the Green March!) so the native Western Saharans would always lose any referendum calling for independence (nice trick - bet they learnt it from the British in Northern Ireland). He was happy that I…

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Day 137: The Road To Casablanca

17.05.09: The plan was to get the 7.30am bus to the coast. However, however, however... we got a taxi to the southern bus station (a good bet as we where heading due south!) but the bus to Algeciras wouldn't let us on, and then drove off while we were trying to buy tickets from the CLOSED ticket window! The rotter! It wasn't until the information post opened at 8am that we discovered we were (once again) digging in the wrong place! - The bus left from the Eastern bus station (silly Graham), so wasn't picking up passengers from our bus station (well, he could have given us a lift, the big meanie). The next bus for the coast wasn't until 10am - I really could have done with those extra three hours of beddy-bo-bo's. Oh well. Matt and I sat off drinking coffee until we were…

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