Day 39: Fiche and fish

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Tue 14 Dec 2010 09:00
Day 39: Monday 13 December 2010. Camping Nomades, Nouakchott, Mauritania. Distance driven 0 km
Today we had a relaxed start for a change and didn't move the vehicle.  Today's mission was to get visas for Burkina Faso and car insurance for the ECOWAS group of countries.  we failed on both counts!
The French Embassy here used to give visas for Burkina Faso but we found that they had sub-contracted their visa service to Societe General and Societe General had discontinued the service for Burkina Faso. By this time we had walked around most of the town and it was getting hot. In common with most Arab towns there are no footpaths, or if there are they are littered with holes, old cars, and piles of sand. We had information that the ECOWAS insurance was available here but we visited a number of insurance companies without finding anyone who knew what we were talking about so we retired to the campsite to sit in the shade.
After a lunch of delicious shwarmas we organised a trip to the fish market for 4 pm and shared a dilapidated taxi with some of the Oasis group. After being repeatedly harangued by the police over the last few days for our fiche, or "feesh" we opted to try fish today.  The scene at the market was absolutely amazing.  Drawn up on the beach were about 300 open boats all painted in gaudy colours and out at the anchorage beyond the surf were another 50 odd boats.  On the beach were probably 500 people engaged in off-loading boats, hauling boats ashore, launching boats through the surf and buying and selling fish.  Boast were being beached though the surf laden to the gunwhales with fish and then off-loaded by a chain gang of workers balancing fish boxes on their heads with fishy salt water streaming all over them.  Groups of women, all looking immaculate, sat in the sand with piles of fish in huge plastic bowls for sale.  The whole scene was vibrant, colourful, noisy and fascinating.