8am Sunday morning we began. Two minutes later we were stopped in our tracks by a homeless man who wanted Wojtek to buy him a coffee. After a short bustle, we managed to get away and make it to the road heading south.
A Senegalese man stopped for us, even though he was almost home, and took us to our hitching spot, not before laughing surprisingly at our plans to hitch through the desert as well as giving us the address of his parents and thirty-seven siblings in Senegal.
All of this luck meant we had no time to stop to eat our breakfast. So we found a spot, put our backpacks down, got our food out... BEEEEEP "Where are you going?!" Luckily, before starvation set in, this guy let us eat in his car. He was French (and friendly) and owned a spa business. That's about it really. Oh, and he told us about the terrorists currently taking over the desert towards Mauritania. Little side note.
We waited a little longer for the next ride, and somehow ended up in a taxi. For free. He took us through a few towns before finding paying passengers and dropping us off.
Then our longest ride of the day came in the form of a Coca Cola truck. Two men, two seats. So Wojtek and I sat on the bed in the back. They gave us fruit, bread, drinks, cigarettes to Wojtek, and in return we hid behind the curtain every time a police checkpoint came up. That way they didn't have to answer any awkward questions about why they had two Europeans in their truck in the middle of the disputed territory of the Sahara desert.
Whilst Moroccan music blasted from the stereo, the driver danced with such enthusiasm that he didn't always have time to hold the steering wheel. [See video]
The journey continued into the night; the over sized truck drove on the narrow road with only two dim headlights leading the way in the darkest sky in the world. To add to the darkness was the slow, bass-ridden Moroccan music now playing. [See video]
We arrived at a truck park on the outskirts of a town called Laayoune and after the drivers washed their feet and prayed, we all sat around sharing a dinner of traditional Moroccan tajine. Wojtek and I set up the tent in a corner where the truck would shield us from the wind, and before sleeping, reflected on the incredible day we just had and were filled with excitable laughter for what tomorrow would bring.
"I take you to beach. Beach is here."
We explained that we had no time and needed to go south, not to the beach, so naturally he drove us into a port filled with shipping material and armed guards. A few handshakes and salutes explained to us that he was some type of official; a high ranking one who was obviously above the rules of drink- and drug-driving. After a few hours of weirdness, we finally managed to convince him to drop us at the side of the road to look for our next ride.
"We've been kidnapped, definitely" we thought.
He stopped in the next town and picked up a man who had lots of bicycles, then bought us a sandwich each.
"This is just too strange. Has he kidnapped us or what?"
We spent the rest of the day getting informed and incredibly worried about the current situation of the terrorists who were spreading from Mali to neighbouring countries, including Mauritania - where we were heading to the next day...