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Living in China has made me appreciate my own country, with its tiny, ethnically diverse population of unassuming donut-eaters. - Jan Wong

15 February 2020, Rosso to Tiguend, 92.2km
Royal Wings auberge UM1,000 (R400)


The first 30 to 40km of road was in excellent nick, then “broken” with cracked tar, potholes, and sections of soft sand, then mainly OK but not great, then horrible in Tiguend, narrowed by excess sand and too much traffic. Although primarily flat, it took us 11 hours door to door.
The desert and the villages in it were much prettier than we expected, and the villages with shops and soft drinks more frequent than we thought they would be - a real bonus. There were small dunes and flat sand dotted with thorn trees, the sand a grey-cream or rust red. The villages, homes and mosques and shops plonked haphazard on sand, comprised sometimes permanent structures of brick and cement, sometimes large square movable tents, sometimes open-sided permanent structures with canvas walls, usually a combination. The buildings painted in pastels - lilac and lime and sky blue, or bright - pink and blue and green. The fabric and occasional tile adding pattern and texture. Wandering about, goats and camels and donkeys.
People friendly, including the men, though more reticent than black Africans. The vibe was not overtly overly-conservative; there were women out and about on their own, heads covered, but not faces, the fabrics in which they wrap themselves coloured and patterned, not black. The women’s fabrics are delicate and lightweight, wrapped a little like a sari and worn over other clothing. I remember particularly a group of women in pastel shades seated on red sand, and two women at a water well, one in bright orange, one in teal.
Knock-kneed camels stared down their noses at us before loping away. Outside villages were large water bladders, presumably topped up by the water truck we saw dispensing water into yellow 20-litre containers brought to the road by villagers.
The beauty of the day put me in charity with Mauritania following our Rosso experience, but there were one or two sour notes. In the village of Mbalal, a boy stole a new packet of biscuits off the back of my bike, and his friends found this entertaining. He is destined, no doubt, to find a job in future at Rosso… Then the road deteriorated. Then we had a puncture. But these were minor and we did not allow them to negatively colour the entire day.
We met a cyclist headed south, Mikael from Spain who is “doing Africa” in six-week segments, this year from Dahkla to Bissau or Conakry. We also saw two motorbikers on the road, two 4x4s containing travellers, and one mustard Renault filled with youngsters.
It was late when we arrived in Tiguend, so when we found an auberge, we simply dumped our stuff in the room, washed our hands, and went straight out to dinner at the nearest restaurant. Our room had mattresses on the floor instead of a bed, much to our surprise, but was en suite with an aircon. At first they asked 1,300 Ouguiya, but we negotiated them down to 1,000, which was probably still quite a lot more than a local would pay. My meal was tasty, though with more spaghetti than anyone could possibly eat in a single sitting, served with a good sauce of beans, carrots and meat, more a stew than a sauce. Charl was less lucky with dated chicken and old rice and stale chips and limp salad. There was no menu. We had simply asked the proprietor what there was to eat and agreed our two meals from the limited choices he gave us. We had not bothered to check the prices, as local restaurants throughout Africa are cheap, so we were shocked when the bill came to R680, more than our entire budget for one day, and considerably more than we would ever pay for a considerably better meal in Johannesburg. We managed to negotiate the price down to R400, but were pretty disgruntled when we went home to bathe and sleep.

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…


Rosso to Tiguend
Rosso to Tiguend
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Rosso to Tiguend - water bladders
Rosso to Tiguend - water bladders
Rosso to Tiguend
Rosso to Tiguend
Mikael from Spain
Mikael from Spain
Rosso to Tiguend
Rosso to Tiguend
Rosso to Tiguend
Rosso to Tiguend
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