We set off from Dakhla at 6.30 AM intent on hitting the Morocco-Mauritania border by 11.00, stopping only briefly for a photo at the Tropic of Cancer. But nothing, not even our early start or our lovingly prepared egg-mayo samies could prepare us for what followed over the next 25 hours! Grant and I scouted out the scene: We were 80th in the “queue”, which resembled a Sowetan traffic jam in rush hour and made Beit Bridge look like an efficient toll-road. The queue was comprised largely of Moroccans, Mauritanians and Senegalese, most of whom were driving clapped-out Mercs (some stolen!) which would be sold in no-man’s land. Huge trucks queued up adjacent to the cars, leaving little space for on-coming traffic! At one stage an emormous truck, trying to skip the queue got stuck in the sand on the side of the road and was being winched very unsuccessful back in line! This was just the beginning of a very long wait…. One of the reasons we were moving so slowly was due to people (mostly Moroccans and Mauritanians) pushing in or paying bribes and skipping to the front of the queue! We were not the only ones angered by this as we witnessed many fiery disputes as the fiesty Senegelese stood their ground! Fortunately we had a convoy of Senegal’s finest behind us in the queue and before we knew it we too were fighting the struggle. It reached a climax when one of the Mauritanian Mercs, trying to push in, felt the wrath of Andrew’s bull-bar. When the driver accused us of not having any respect, Andrew tapped his bull-bar and said ‘”this is respect my friend!”
We finally made it to the front of the queue at 6 o’clock, just as they closed the gate. This was fortunate in that it meant we didn’t have to spend the night in no-man’s land. Amazingly, by 10:00PM everything had quitened down as everyone had returned to the sanctury of their vehicles, resting before another chaotic day at the border. At last we made it through at 11:00 the next day, exactly 24 hours after arriving! We stuck to the road through the perilous 8km of no-man’s land, which was littered on either side with the burnt-out shells of cars – a constant reminder of the landmines. We made it swifly through the Mauritanian side and were soon on our way to Nouadibou.