Nouakchott the Capital City of Mauritania
-The next morning, rested, refreshed and happy to
be with my host in his comfortable home surroundings, I was ready for the following few days, which were to be full of interest and discovery in this fascinating city of contrasts.
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.
Large and sprawling across many square kilometres .. it has a spotlessly clean and modern central business area and equally
stylish upmarket residential areas, 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 !!
Luckily, with pleasantly light winds .. the sun shone and the skies were mostly bright blue and cloudless during my stay.
Click this link to see a Picture Show which I hope will convey the true essence of the city, portraying in reality the stark
contrasts between the pristine modernity and its somewhat scruffy older areas .. all of which were fascinating, full of interest and both subtle and vivid colours.
The Beach 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.
Cick HERE for a panoramic view
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 !