That evening, we discussed our options. Flying to Nouakchott costs about as much as flying to Dakar. If we had to fly, we'd probably opt for Dakar. In this case, we might even use the return leg (which we'd be paying for anyway). Flights within Africa are expensive and it's always been unclear to us how we will get from West Africa to Egypt. It can actually be cheaper to fly point-to-point in Africa via Europe. So maybe we'd return to Morocco and then take a bus to Madrid or Paris en route to Cairo.
But... the return ticket would have to be used within one month. Would this be enough time for us? And if we were only going for a month, was it worth going at all?
We're really looking forward to visiting West Africa but have known all along that at this time of year it will be very hot. Will it be tolerable? If we were to bypass West Africa altogether, we'd be in a better position to reach the Karakorum before winter...
There was another factor: We'd committed to meeting our friend Lisa in Dakar. Lisa is to fly in from London in late June. We decided to wait and see what the next day brought before making a decision.
The following afternoon, we sat having lunch in a dingy restaurant across the street from the Rabat train station. The tablecloth was filthy, flies were a constant nuisance and most of the items on the menu were unavailable. We were about to get on the wrong train for Casablanca.
But none of this mattered. We were getting out of Rabat - Mauritanian visas in hand - without even having to buy air tickets.
Now all we need to do is figure out how to actually cross the stretch of the Western Sahara where there are no roads and no buses.