Tobaski day starts off with a family get-together for prayers. Around 9.30 am the animal
The other large and sprawling market is a maze of stalls and alleyways, full of mainly second-hand construction materials, electrical goods, hardware, vegetables, meat and fish and general household supplies. A
long time and many false trails through these crowded streets, was spent in following directions to find the bead dealers, especially the Hausa ones. Many members of the Hausa tribe from Nigeria seem to specialise in bead
dealing and can be found all over West Africa. They usually speak many languages fluently and are a reliable source to seek out ... if there are any interesting beads around, they will have them. Eventually we found them ...
only a few ... sitting behind large market stalls covered with a variety of beads.
Old Mauritanian "amber" is a beautiful and sort-after commodity, they did have some lovely old "amber" beads but their prices were very high. I bought a few ... including
some small, end-capped, lovely examples of Mauritanian silver-craft ... but refused many as too expensive, after calculating the probable last price from the first ! This is the inevitable result that the influx of tourists and
people with more money than sense have on accessible large cities.
Expressing my interest in old Kiffa beads brought the earnest conviction ( with a "sparkle" in their eyes ) that every other Venetian bead in their collection had been made in Kiffa long before
their great great grandmothers had been born. This is not deceit, but normal African bartering with strangers ... the gullible do not last long, anywhere in Africa !!
Time was passing by too quickly ... our original itinerary had been to reach Rosso, on the Mauritanian / Senegalese border, by nightfall. Having spent longer than anticipated in the markets .. it was after 4.00
pm and we had a long way to go. We thanked our hosts for the night for their kindness and bid a we'll meet again-type farewell to our friend and guide from Kiffa. He was worth his weight in gold for all the things he had shown
and explained to us ..
Deciding to treat ourselves to a faster and more comfortable ride to Rosso .. we splashed out a small fortune ( by local standards ) and hired our own Mercedes taxi for the trip. It is easy to forget what a real car is like, after a few days of bush travel. This car actually had all its upholstery, comfortable seats without the springs sticking through, window-winder handles with windows that closed. No cracks in the windscreen, fully working lights, active suspension, a quiet engine with an intact exhaust system and even a radio. Sheer heaven !
Our driver told us that he would just have to pop round and tell his boss where he was going ... "5 minutes only, I promise"... and we sped off into the back streets. The boss man was eventually traced,
only to inform our driver that the car did not have the necessary papers for travelling that far out of town. "Oh bother," we said ... or words to that effect, as darkness started to fall.
Passing hundreds of camels herded together on the outskirts of the town and apart from a few stops for our papers to be checked, the 4 hour journey to Rosso was uneventful and comfortable on the good road which
follows the coastline southwards. Arriving in the 9.30 pm darkness at Rosso ferry terminal, with no real plans as to where we would stay for the night, we found out that the last ferry had sailed at 8.00 pm and the next
would be at 8.30 am the following morning.
about to enter our room we noticed a rapidly nearing vehicle with lights ablaze and two agitated, grim-faced Gendarmes aboard. Skidding to a halt in a cloud of dust, leaping out and heading directly towards us ... it rapidly dawned that the waving hands and shouts that we had ignored belonged to these two. A boring night on duty must have suddenly changed into the possibility of two "international terrorists" at the very least, fleeing into the night from their "passports please" shouts. Fame and promotion would inevitably follow for their apprehension of these dangerous miscreants !
Our Mauritanian-older-style hotel room was enormous, with beds sufficient for six people, air-conditioning and a large bathroom with shower, clothes-washing tap and two toilets.
A knock on the door and a young boy brought us a present of the first of three glasses of attaya, the West African local tea. Drunk throughout the region, it is usually made from
imported Chinese Green Tea leaves .. known locally as Gunpowder. An incredibly strong mix of tea and equal parts of sugar are brewed with a little water in a tiny blue metal tea pot over a flame, for around half an hour ... occasionally being poured into one of two small glass tumblers and repeatedly poured from a great height from one tumbler into the other and back again.
The making of this West African favourite local drink is always carried out in an unchanging, ritualistic way on the same lines as the famous Japanese Tea-making ceremony.
Suitably replete, washed and very tired .. we retired for the night.