Crossing the Western Sahara
We leave Agadir and my parents 4th of September. The family gathering has been successful and - peaceful. We have come to agree to repeat this once every year in a different part of the world.
We also leave behind in Taghazout which is a bit north from Agadir, Hamza and Virginie, Hamidou and Orane, friends, Moroccan boys and their European girls.
When in Agadir, I have got used to spending my evenings in Taghazout, at the beach where Hamidou's caravan has found a final destiny. A great many binges we have had here, near the sea that in winter belongs to the surfing community.
But at night it is quiet with just the sound from the waves and it usually has less flies then Agadir.
Not so this time as a lot of rubbish had been accumulated over the summer month, a feast for the flies.
Beginning of September, the holiday (silly) season has drawn to a close, the crowd looking for la fète, is much smaller. Just the 4 friends left, - they may hang out until the surfing season starts.
And, - Moroccans, to a great extent have started to observe the alcohol free time which starts 40 or 30 days before the beginning of Ramadan, depending on how serious you take it. Islamic teachings since Mohamed have stated that alcohol stays up to 40 days in the body.
So we leave Agadir, Hasna and I, the city where I have spent so much time. Been here with Michael (18Mar), past Tifnit (04Apr-28Apr), for the Timitar Festival with Hasna (30Jun to 16Jul) and again after my Western Sahara Trip (30Jul to 01Aug).
And Agadir had never been that hot. 48°C, the temperature inside the car, while driving, all windows down.
4th of September down, via Tiznit and Mirleft to Sidi Ifni. Next Day the piste to Plage Blanche, the road to Goulmine and Tan-Tan. A first night in the desert. 6th we take the goudron to M'Sied and 7 hours of bad piste to the road leading to Smara.
Somewhere on that road we take the piste to the right, direction El Hagunia. We camp 20km before El Hagunia. Laayoune the next day. Been here, liked it.
Dahkla 9/9, humid after rain: A neat looking little town, we arrive just before the Friday prayer starts. Half the men rush to the mosque, the other half stays (easy) in the cafés. Or enjoy their obligatory Friday cous-cous without a prayer.
So do we, the best cous-cous since arriving in Morocco followed by two grilled fish and fries. Yes we can eat a lot when we're hungry. We drive off for a round trip when the main mosque empties itself. People wearing their best white jellabas or darahs, most wear white, leave in groups. Some crowed gathers in one spot, a old rusty mercedes is being sold.
The whole town is surrounded by a rubbish bin. We drive the coastal pistes of the Dakhla peninsula in search for the Atlantic. Some good sceneries we get to see but the offensive smell on the car from the rubbish will not go away till cleaning in Nouakchott.
But Dakhla has jobs. Sardines is one big business. While visiting one of the many sardines sorting and packing facilities someone tries to steal my GPS from the car, amongst other items. I have got used to leaving the car unlocked, windows down. Morocco seemed such a safe place, with usually a great many decent people around that would guard the vehicle as if it was their own.
I have been right about this last point. The thieve does not get farther then 25 meters. Workers and a director from the sardines factory have been quick to react and catch the poor chap and hold him until police arrives. He had been arrested before, his glue sniffing habit has made him dispassionate about life.
A bit disturbing the whole incident. On the one side these happy, smiling people, proud of their jobs, on the other side ....
We enter Mauritania/This is Africa!
Finally in Africa, Morocco is trying hard to be(come) European, Mediterranean, Spanish. Mauritania is Africa, wants to be African.
Mauritania is a country on the crossroads between black Senegalese/Malian and white Arab/Saharan traditions.
We enter at Nouadhibou and shrug off a little shock, you think it is racist/fascist. The white against the black.
Mauritania had only abandoned slavery officially in the 1980s. Some say it still exists.
I am disgusted while I watch the owner of our Camping treat his Malian immigrant employees.
Only after a week and coming down to Nouakchott we begin to understand better the special melange that not just coexist in Mauritania.
Nouakchott, admitted, is more of a melting pot too. African colours, musique and dishes blend with the Moorish, desert, aristocratic bedouin-tent atmosphere.
But maybe in Nouakchott, we are just residing in the right place, the very hospitable Auberge de Sahara, of Mauritanian Sidi Mohamed and his French wife Kania (of Algerian origin).
Nouakchott is very hot. Really hot, even the locals concede.
When driving down from Nouadhibou we have taken the old piste that crosses the National Parc of the Banc d'Aguine. An easy drive, not too hot, we have had rain in the desert carpeting the sandy plains and dunes with a lush green transparent veil.
But the rain has made traversing some beach partitions impossible.
So we have been forced to take the road for some 70km. And there it is the desert and its strong sandy winds blowing hot air from the Sahara.
Back on the beach - the windy, sandy, hot conditions have not changed, but at least there's enough water to cool down.
And an early camp, right next to the sea, allows us to test our new fishing gear. The fish we put on the two hooks, has stranded. The water has been too hot for a while, fish is struggling under these conditions.
We arrive in Nouakchott 17th of Sep: Rain reaches Nouakchott regularly at this time of the year. After rain the whole city is wrapped in a special odour. The city is built on rubbish, as it grows the rubbish is flattened and used for new construction, new rubbish is dumped further out and flattened down once the next phase of development is reached.
No more rain once we have got here. But, the lakes of muddy water from the rain remain for many days as the rubbish does not allow for drainage.
The Auberge Sahara, a popular place for over landers, a centre for gathering information.
But we stay all day in a don't-move position just to keep the impact of flies and sweattening to a minimum. You don't want to read or work the computer nor visit the cities' many markets. All this has to wait for later.
There is no much beer in Nouakchott either, and the one you find is VERY expensive. So nothing to cool your senses.
But a great many nice people we meet and they give us new inspirations.
After 5 days, on 22nd of September, we decide to head for the green, more windy Senegalese coast, more exactly the nice beaches of St. Louis and its area.
Maybe it has been back in Nouakchott where I have caught the Malaria, maybe.