We first thought we were arriving early in Rabat, already at a quarter to nine (the time for depositing the papers for the visa was 9 to 11). But it was quite an adventure to find the embassy and it wasn’t until an Italian girl jumped into the car and drew us a map that we eventually found our way. It was already a quarter past ten and we had neither copies of our passport nor photos. A very stressful car trip later (which also made us meet a Guinean migrant with the intention of going to Europe) we had everything and it was one minute to eleven. The guard closed the door just behind us; we were the last ones to be let in. The man who received the papers was very strict and unpleasant in the beginning, telling us just to hurry up, hurry up when completing the forms. We started wondering what place we were heading towards. But then we made some jokes, spoke some Wolof, showed an interest to the Mauritanian national day and offered him an enlarged copy of one of the passport photos. And that made him smile and talk to us. Just like with the police officer at the Moroccan boarder with whom Karin could finally establish that contact meaning that you are really meeting as human beings above official positions and situations. It was a relief!
As the Mauritanian national day is on Monday the 28th of November we wouldn’t have our visas until Tuesday the 29th, which felt very far. As most of the bunch of people waiting outside the embassy we therefore tried to negotiate to have the visas the same day. This meant spending a whole day at the embassy before we realized that the consul was not going to show up. Still, it was interesting to meet with people on the way to Mauritania and hear their different life stories. Some Germans on huge motorbikes, an Austrian alone in his car, some Italians and two fully packed cars with Senegalese men living in Europe. We also met a Senegalese migrant on his way to Europe who went back to the border Mauritania/Morocco each three months to be able to stay in Morocco. A lot of destinies all heading in the same direction!
Four days seemed like an eternity on our trip that had been moving on constantly since the 16th of November, but we had to remind ourselves that these days are still nothing compared to the time and the efforts of the Subsaharian migrants crossing the border Africa-Europe.