picking up scraps along the trail of giggles, cupcake and locks, like moroccan residency cards forgotten with hotel receptionists and the noble town of jemaa shaim known by every border guard, we were ultimately tested.
our immaculate planning ended up imploding alongside the hulls of forty years worth of automobiles, fatalities of the massive minefields that stretch between morocco and its ‘economically irrelevant’ desert neighbor.
we had visas. we had all the proper stamps and had conquered the art of charming moroccan and mauritanian officials. but when the lone mauritanian border official decided we had to return to rabat for newer visas before we could cross (a favorite pastime we were later informed), battle-axe threw an epic fit.
while d-dawg and flames returned to our desert transit and expertly interviewed a secret polisario agent (who’d been a regular passenger with us from the moroccan border until no man’s land where he’d suddenly revealed himself and begun shouting liberty and pro-independence maxims in spanish while slapping hands with our driver), i began reminding the visa officials at the mauritanian embassy in rabat just who we three ladies were.
they remembered us. they cowered. they called the mauritanian foreign minister. they contacted the army post at nouadhibou, who commanded the vindictive guard at the border crossing. they took a surprisingly short lunch break. they tackled the case of two young french cyclists in our same position (but less equipped except for one sparkly pinwheel sported on their handlebars).
a battle-forged german woman took to our cause with her dog and WWII era desert 4X4 and lambasted the border officials in her sharp native tongue until her personal multiple entry visa was Xed out by the guard in vengeful frustration. from ten in the morning until three in the afternoon we drank tea and fought (and found secret routes to the saharawi refugee camps in algeria and 6,000,000 dirhams in the polisario agent’s pockets for buying contraband mauritanian camels) until army officers nearly tripped on their turbans chasing us off the border.
we were finally granted new visa numbers over the phone and tasted sweet victory by refusing them and taking the first battered mercedes benz transport heading back to dakhla. dusk settled over a god-forsaken countryside (and the young french couple with their pinwheel, still hoping for reprieve) but we looked forward to the trip ahead: a painless flight from casablanca to ghana (via dubai) and a new no1ladies african adventure in reverse. the road back to casablanca would be long but we could do anything by now, with our eyes closed.