|Chinguetti is a much-hyped
Saharan town which, along with Ouadane, Oualata and Tichit, forms
part of one of Mauritania's UNESCO World Heritage sites, celebrating
a distinguished history in extortion, slavery and Islamic
scholarship (not necessarily in that order). It is a
windswept, desolate heap of ruins with just one minaret left
standing as a remnant of its former glory, slowly becoming engulfed
in the sand dunes; that is why we went!
In the old town you will be pestered at every
turn by women of the Chinguetti Junk Jewellery Cooperative who seem
to believe you have a duty to buy their trivia and that you have
travelled thousands of miles entirely to that end. If not
them, then enthusiastic cadeaux kids who will pursue you out into
the wilderness in the hope of a free biro.
There are a few Auberges, places to eat,
shops and, most importantly perhaps, diesel for sale.
According to the guide books there was a decent hotel, but that was
before the military took it over to garrison the tourist protection
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