Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Savannah Journal Entry

I mentioned before that Savannah had amazing journal entries so I've stolen her journal, hee hee, and will give you an example of a day that she wrote about (minus all the sappy stuff about her boyfriend Grady, and all the bad stuff about me too. And that other stuff about Bre and the weird dream sequences and the song and dance about Rhett Butler, lol). Anyway, this day is the 9th of December and was the day we spent 11 hours in transit from Chinguetti to Nouakchott. Doesn't sound too terribly exciting right? This is totally raw but, well, check this out.....

Yay, travel day.....not. The guy changed the departure time from 10am to 9am and we didn't have anything for breakfast. Everyone packed up their backpacks and prepared for the journey ahead. Once again we let ourselves get rushed for nothing. We are taking transport out of here from the hotel because it is cheaper. He promised us a 4WD but at the last minute decided to arange a small mercedes for the first trip. Squishing is nothing new to us but there's a point where you've got to draw the line. I can't stand being around idiot people. They actually looked surprised when over 200 lbs of baggage and 6 people nearly crushed the poor car. The first driver said forget it and left. We sat and waited, with me cursing all stupidity, for the next car. We paid the driver his share then crammed everything into the car. I don't think it was any different from the first. There were three in the back with Bre and day packs thrown on top of them and Ammon and I shared the front seat. It's a good thing we're both toothpicks. It was terribly uncomfortable but I had a good view :) The road wasn't too wild but it was dirt and every so often my head would tap the roof or already cracked windshield. Luckily the road isn't anything like coming from Choum to Atar or I'd've been riding with my head outside of the car! There's no escaping the broken windshield here. They've probably made it fashionable to have huge cracks on the windows, haha. Plain land speckled with a few trees, rocks and roaming camels. My favourite are the graceful white camels. It took an hour and a half to get into Atar. Our plan was to pick up/meet Jake on the outskirts of town at the police checkpoint. We were driven to the station in town and as we pulled in we were promptly attacked by all sorts of drivers. It was at that moment that I knew for sure there wasn't any arranged transport for us out of there. The driver was hanging out of the car discussing and negotiating with them. Abdu had given us the impression that he had talked to someone and knew who would be taking us. Oh well, as long as we get it for the price we agreed to and get there alive. I wasn't going to complain. But before we could start worrying about that, we had to find Jake. "Jake and his damn bike!"-Bre. After unloading the packs, Ammon went back with the driver to look for him. As we waited we were offered tea and were annoyed. That didn't last too long because a policeman came by and got rid of a lot of the people. Ammon came back shortly after with Jake and there were no more delays but that didn't mean it was easy. There were no delays, we had all the stuff packed in, we all fit in without being too crammed and we had it all to ourselves (except for a small quiet guy in the front beside Ammon for a little while) for the next 436km on a beautiful, smooth, paved road straight through the desert. What could possibly go wrong? Right? Ha, was I forgetting that this is still Africa?? Shame on me! I didn't think it was possible to go 40km/h on such a perfect road. "Good for them, they managed a sneak attack on us"-Ammon "I honestly don't know what's worse, going insanely fast on a deadly bumpy road or going painfully slow on an empty, straight one"-me. It was a day of "I just don't understand...." but then if we understood even half of what they do, it wouldn't be Africa. I always seem to get stuck in the middle of things.....quite literally. I was in the back squished between Bre and Sky! Poor Sky always gets the short end of things. The worst part was when another car would not only pass us but would WHOOSH by like a bat out of hell! Every time brought me one step closer to boiling over and losing all control. Oncoming traffic was a smack in the face. The cars or trucks swept by so fast that we'd nearly get knocked off the road. "We're going so slow I can count the bugs on each blade of grass as we go by." - Dad. It was almost true. We knew from the start that we weren't going to make it there in the 6 hours but more like 10. It took us forever just to get 55km to the next town. Sky was worried about our safety and was getting paranoid. Who can blame him when the car has no side mirrors, rickety seats, no window handles, a cracked windshield, a broken clutch, missing lug nuts on 3 of the 4 wheels and not to mention a very questionable driver. He kept touching his right ear, slow motion like he was a zombie with an ear ache and I swear we caught him with his eyes closed a couple times. "I think he's got a brain tumour!" - Sky. It's like in "101 Dalmations" where the people look like their dogs, this guy matched his car! We only got to stop to buy food and water once in a tiny town. We had only prepared for a short ride. We started to worry about poor Jake's bike when we found out how it was tied to the roof. They carelessly strapped the rope to the tires then fastened it to the car so it is totally bent now. We stocked up on water and cookies because that's all there was. Mom passed out nice chocolate chip cookies. I was starving, as were the rest of us, but too many cookies made me feel sick. I would choose healthy food over junk any day. At the stop there was a donkey that Sky spotted standing like a prince with his cart. "Now there's a prize donkey!" - Sky. "Ya, it's like it's been airbrushed by the sand." - Jake. "Wow! No, seriously is it just my shades or is that donkey actually perfect?"-Sky
Sitting inside the car was like sitting in a caterpillar. We were all quiet and reading most of the way. When it started to get dark we were all a bit worried. "This guy probably doesn't even have working head lights!"-Jake "Well, they do try to avoid driving at night, headlights are optional." - Ammon. "Uhhhh, you guys why isn't he driving on the right side of the road?" - Sky. "I just hate arriving in a new city at night." - Dad. The night was dull and dark and even the stars seem faded. There was nothing but silence and darkness in the car. I was left to my thoughts only to be brought back to reality by blinding light! To Sky and me it was like a flash before death. Our driver drove with his lights on half the time and asked to borrow Jake's flashlight. I don't get that. I spend the day creating a perfect picture in my mind, only waiting to spill the words onto a page. If only my mind had a pen and paper of it's own. Bre and I listened to music after it got dark. I was leaned up against Bre sideways, legs across Sky's lap and over the bench in Jake's face. We all knew that the end was going to be difficult. We already had the driver ask for money because he had to pay a bribe. Well, damn, it seemed to us like he wanted to get pulled over. He was the only one that ever stopped when everyone else went zipping by. We finally arrived 9 hours later, exhausted and bitter and now had to figure out how to find our host. We originally wanted to borrow the driver's cell phone and have our host give him directions. It was the least the guy could do after being so late. He turned out to be a retard and had no intention of even pretending he wanted to help. A few people came and went until someone that spoke english came by. We got to use a public phone and the host had a taxi driver friend that could come pick us up. I'll never understand it but transport days wear you out.
The driving in Nouakchott is hectic, cars coming from all angles, cutting each other off and running pedestrians off the roads, AND sidewalks, haha. The streets are very dark at night (no streetlamps) making it nearly impossible to see the black people, especially by those who choose to drive with their headlights off.

That's enough of that. I am exhausted from all this typing. You get the idea and I didn't even write the whole thing out.


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