It took me two days overland and one and a half day in the air, but I am here. In Zanzibar.
There is a lot to say about the overland part, but I will just summarize some of it.
I found a taxi pretty quickly after I left my friends’ house in Nouakchott and told him in some sort of French that I wanted to go to the taxi station for Rosso. He drove for a while and asked me something in French, I didn’t understand and he told me something that seemed very important. He repeated it five times, using the same words, and I think he tried to explain that I could get off there and take another taxi to the station, but I was really not sure. Eventually he took me all the way there anyway and found me a taxi that left straight away.
Now, I was in Rosso. I have heard so bad things about that border-point, how corrupt it is and how nasty the staff can be. But, I was lucky as usual. The taxi driver called on a guy who spoke English, from the Gambia, and he helped me through all the customs and I got my stamp for leaving Mauritania. He helped me onto the boat that would take me across the small river onto the other side; Senegal. And then we waved goodbye.
In Senegal all the donkeys suddenly had turned into horses. My first culture-shock. I got into a taxi that would take me to Saint Louis where I would spend the night. I shared it with I don’t know how many people and a sheep. On top of the car they loaded another three sheep with their legs tied together, one of them screaming in vain all the five hours that turned into nine hours before we reached the famous coastal city.
I spent the night in a hostel and gave my last Mauritanian money and my sim-card to a girl who was on her way to the big country in the north.
It was with mixed feelings I got into that boat in Rosso. I didn’t really feel happy to go to Senegal, too many people I met in Mauritania said that Senegalese people are arrogant and nasty to tourists. Plus I didn’t know how to say goodbye to Mauritania. Somehow it felt as a big part of my life with its desert, people, culture, traditions and food. Sure I was missing knäckebröd (I still am) and vegetarian lasagna. But everything else was too exciting for me to actually prepare to leave. Even though I knew I would leave two weeks in advance, I still couldn’t get my mind to say goodbye.
It took another day to reach Dakar, I left at nine in the morning and arrived at nine in the evening. And yes, after one and a half month in Mauritania I agree; Senegalese people sure could do with some manners and politeness, though I did meet some amazing people. One who helped me all the way from the bus to the hotel and even paid the taxi (I only had six hundred CFA left) without wanting anything in return. That whole thing took us almost two hours. Thank you.
Then there was the airplane, first landing in Togo then in Addis Ababa to change airplane and then another landing in Dar Es Salaam before, finally, reaching Zanzibar seventeen hours later. There the man giving the visas said “50 dollars for the visa.” Oh my word. “I don’t have any dollars.” I said. He asked what I had. “CFA” I told him. “What is that?” he gave me a non-understanding eye and I said it’s “Senegal, Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire, Mali…. You know, CFA.”
He did not like it. Eventually he allowed my friend who was waiting for me outside the airport to come inside and pay for me, but tried to charge him the double. “African corruption” I wanted to say, but figured it might have done it worse than it already was. The time was three in the morning but luckily my friend had his head in place. He knew the exchange rate and paid the right amount in shilling, then we left the airport. Me with another stamp in my passport. Here’s the funny thing: they gave me the wrong visa. I was supposed to get a tourist visa, but on mine it says “for any paid or non paid work.” Maybe I should try and look for a job on Zanzibar?