My impression was of a city with a forward-looking economy and government that intends to be at the forefront of the development of the natural gas and oil resources which are present off the coast of North West Africa.
a total contrast to its two enormous public markets and outer suburbs, which are often literally knee-deep in rubbish. The attitude of the people however, displayed no such great differences .. mostly of Arab stock and seriously business-minded, but without the lackadaisical approach which could be considered as one of the charming features of
"black Africa" and which becomes immediately apparent once crossing back over the border to the South.
My old friends amongst the bead dealers and the many new people that I met all displayed a friendliness and helpfulness that was not necessarily dependant on whether I was a prospective customer or in the company of Gabriel, who is well known and well liked amongst all sections of the community. His patient guidance and local knowledge were invaluable.
The meaning of Nouakchott is "the place of winds." Regularly occurring strong winds help to keep its temperatures from
reaching anything like the furnace-like levels of the country's desert interior, but on windy days it was impossible to
take good photographs due to a swirling 'fog' of sand, waste paper and the scourge of all of Africa, plastic rubbish !!
TheBeach Area and modern Fish Market are separated from Nouakchott City by around 6 kilometres of salt-encrusted, completely level, bare land .. where row upon row of new public housing is being built. On the beach, hundreds of brightly coloured pirogues were packed tightly together and many more were anchored offshore.
Further along the coastline to the South is Nouakchott's Industrial Development Area .. a huge expanse of land where many millions of dollars are being invested with an eye to the future development of the gas and oil fields which lie off the coastlines of much of North West Africa. Mauritania is intent on being in the forefront of this development.
After a very pleasant stay in Nouakchott, benefiting from Gabriel's superb hospitality and his kind introductions to many locals, ex-pats and good restaurants, I was getting short of time needed to complete other business in The Gambia before my return to the UK. So after a considerable delay in Nouakchott airport, I flew back to Dakar in the early hours of the morning. Catching the first 6.00 am taxi from the taxi garage in Dakar .. after an animated and furious argument with a taxi driver who tried to grab my bag and insist on me travelling in his taxi, rather than the one that I had chosen and would be first to leave .. I arrived 'home' to The Gambia by midday, with no other problems.
With his fascination in African Trade Beads, Gabriel has expressed an interest in travelling to Kiffa later in the year and had kindly invited me to accompany him. Plans were made for my return in November .. an exciting prospect !