Middle of March 2011 finally the time has come. First I head North to Muenster for a couple of days, and giving an interview there for a local newspaper .
Next is France where Im meeting Tatiana in the Pyrenees, climbing mountains, bathing naked in hot springs and learning about planting your own veggies.
In the Barcelona area the police (4 guys) at 3.30 am break into a toilet where I am trying to catch some sleep, later wanting to charge me 20 € for the broken lock.
In Almeria I catch the ferry to Africa (Melilla), and the moment I arrive in Maroc (Nador) I start to relax, hitchhiking becomes much easier. I opt for a small detour towards Oujda and the Algerian border. Following morning I already reach the Mauretanian Embassy in Rabat where Visas can be had for 30€, pick-up next day.
I meet Cody, a young Canadian with rent-a-car and neglectable knowledge of french. He gives me a ride towards Agadir, and through the night I hitchhike the last 380 km, arriving at my friend Mohamed's place in Tan-Tan 5 am. It becomes really difficult to leave, but after two weeks, when the visa I just obtained is already halfway expired, by chance Paul, a German from Munich traveling on his own 4x4-Hilux-Camper equipped with two large beds, kitchen etc, stops over in town, and this is the sign for me to get moving again.
So we travel down through Western Sahara together, stop in Dakhla en route, and, entering Mauretania on the 18th of April, I take advantage of the fact that hitchhiking alone I could have never made it to the national park of Banc d'Arguin, and join him there for some days in complete peace and nature, the beach full of turtles.
Then I manage a lift with another camp guest, reach the Capital Nouakchott, concert in the Centre Culturel Francaise the very first night, and head back to Nouadhibou, 450 km North (riding with British/Malagan overlanders Adam & Sophie), to catch the world's longest train (~140 wagons of iron ore, 2300m long) through the night into the desert. The train doesn't have any light or electricity in its passenger compartment, and of the seats remain mostly only the hard plastic parts if at all. Thank god thievery isn't a problem n the train (yet?).
I spend some time in Atar and Chinguetti, the 7th most holy city of Islam, a place that recently has been declared inside the red zone by France (supposed to mean higher risk of being kidnapped by Al Quaida forces), then need to reach Rosso border as my visa is about to expire. Clement, the Nigerian priest there, is a princely host for a night, and, crossing the Senegal river I reach the country with the same name on the other side of the Sahara and its former capital Saint-Louis, a town that has seen better days but still located idyllic on an island behind a great sand bar.
Before arriving in Senegal's capital Dakar I spent two fantastic days in a +/- 30 people Fullah (Peul, Fulfulbe) family compound in Thies, 60 km to the East. The Peul are one of the largest tribes present in most of the Sahel zone countries, while Dakar itself is predominantly Wolof, another tribe known for their size and commercial skills.
On 3rd of May I am exactly 10 minutes in Dakar, headed for the supermarket to get myself the first cold drink in days, when Markus, ex-handball pro, fellow-German and based here to oversee construction of a fish factory, addresses me in front of the casher and invites me to simply stay with him!
To be continued ...