Chinguetti - Old Town 3

Passing by evidence that there is still a lot of restorative building work to be completed .....

..... our guide pointed to the height that the sand used to be before it was cleared away.

A wooden board showing the the height ( the top red line ) of the sand before start of a combined Mauritanian and European project to rediscover the ancient streets in July 2003.

At the end of the street, it was a welcome relief to stand in the shade and look across the sand at Chinguetti New Town in the distance. Click HERE for a Panorama of the view.


By now it was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was at its hottest. With evidently no electricity available at that time of day, we eventually found a small local shop with a gas fridge who supplied us with cool soft drinks and cartons of milk. Whilst we were drinking them, we watched a local stone mason, rebuilding the walls of a compound.

We were literally dripping in  temperatures in the upper 40s, this guy continued to work without a drop of perspiration showing. However, he accepted our present of a cool Coca Cola with a large grin, but strangely enough left it in the sun to warm up a little before drinking it. Obviously knowing better than many tenderfoot tourists, that mixing hot body temperatures with ice cool drinks only leads to trouble !
 

As we were leaving the shop to return to our car for the journey back to Nouakchott, a small girl ran up and begged us to follow her to her Mother's shop. News had at last permeated that 'tourists' were in town looking for beads and their shop had been opened especially for us.
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On entering the shop, we found a group of  ladies, two pretty but shy-looking sisters, their mother, grandmother and assorted female friends .. all sitting on mats on the floor, surrounded by a variety of local arts and crafts. Most were of the 'tourist fodder' variety, but we were offered a small selection of traditional aromatic beads, leather, stone, silver and brass items.
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It was so hot, that not only were Gabriel and I dripping with perspiration .. so were the ladies. After the initial greetings and questions of where we were from etc. .. for the sake of moderating prices, I predictably entered my "and are you married?" mode', directed to one of the sisters, who really was very attractive .. and half my age ! Her shyness quickly disappeared and with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, stated that no, she was not married. Within ten minutes of somewhat hilarious laughter all round .. involving translations from my French into Hassaniya ..
our future marriage was well on the way to being arranged. Then she mentioned the bride price.
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It all became a little confusing after that .. but I think we finally agreed that if I returned with a price of 12 camels and around 8 million Mauritanian Ouguiya .. the marriage was definitely on !!
-Converted, that is the equivalent of 15,000 / $30,000 .. I wonder how much a camel costs ?
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Amidst continuing laughter from all concerned .. and knowing that I had met someone with much greater 'price fixing' skills than I .. we had a very pleasant bargaining and buying session with her and the rest of her family and friends, lasting much longer than first anticipated.

Gabriel even bought a few new Kiffa beads, which I teased him about later. Having driven long distances to visit Chinguetti, he had bought new Kiffa beads of exactly the same type and price,
which .. on another of our
previous travels .. he had refused to buy in the town of Kiffa itself !!
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Shown above is a selection of the items we bought .. click on their pictures to be taken to the same or similar items which are offered for sale on the pages of
www.africantradebeads.com.
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Perhaps we might have found a greater selection of interesting items if we had visited during the 'tourist season' .. but from reports read elsewhere, we might also have been inundated with large crowds of persistent 'guides' and begging children. So perhaps we were there at the right time.