That barely ended alright

Read / lees in : Nederlands

Southwest of Ouadane / Mauritania
A short stop underway because we had to ask for directions.

I needed some more Dutch courage in the form of Just’s delicious beer to ask him to arrange a car and driver for me. He was to bring me from Atar, which still is in the orange area on the MOFA-map, to the deep red east. The next morning Sidi picked me up at the crack of dawn and we set course for Ouadane. A historical little town that once flourished because it was on the trans-sahara caravan route. Nowadays you can have a look at the left-over ruins, and all the souvenir shops open their doors when word gets out there’s a foreigner strolling through town. We arrived there by fairly decent paved and unpaved roads. But fortunately the next day my adventure was finally really going to start. At first light we slalomed around the souvenir venders, that had been waiting in front of our hotel for hours, straight into the desert.

Ouadane / Mauritania
Whenever you see an arab walking in between ruins you can’t helpt to think that an American bombing might be imminent.

Burning sand

We had about 160 kilometers in front of us with nothing but sand. No roads, no jeep tracks, absolutely nothing. Loose sand, as far as the eye could see. I then realised we had about three liters of water with us, at most, and no self rescue stuff like sand plates. And, after I counted, one small bag of peanuts. But Sidi seemed perfectly relaxed behind the steering wheel, so I decided not to worry and enjoy the ever changing views. But of course just at that moment we got stuck in a dune. Now it was yours truly’s duty to push the car out. Because, despite all the promises made by the MOFA, the terrorists, who could’ve helped push, were nowhere to be seen. And neither was Lame Francis. After that I thought it would be better for everybody involved if I would take matters the steering wheel into my own two hands. That way we reached, via a beautiful oasis where we drank tea (everywhere they hand out tea), without further trouble Chinguetti.

Sahara somewhere between Ouadane and Chinguetti / Mauritania
This was the community building, so don’t think they all live in houses this big.


Upon arrival in Chinguetti we visited an old library. The caretaker, a sweet old man, put on some gloves so he wouldn’t damage the delicate paper of the centuries old books. But every time after he showed me a book he just threw it back into the show case. I could barely keep a straight face. The next morning, again, we left early, but just five kilometers or so outside of the village the car started giving us trouble, engine problems. So I thought: ‘We’ll probably go back to find a mechanic in the village.’ But Sidi ain’t no wimp. He mumbled something about bad diesel, cleaned the dieselfilter with our last drops of water and continued deeper into the desert. At least I still had my peanuts. Every two kilometers or so the engine stalled and as we continued it got harder and harder to fire it up again. Meanwhile thick black smoke escaped from the exhaust, and sounds that make your skin crawl from the engine compartment. But like a miracle we suddenly arrived at a tarmac road after several hours. Not completely at ease yet I counted down the last kilometers to my cold beer in the Bab Sahara. Luckily enough we made it there, because after all peanuts taste a lot better with a cold one.

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