The ocean/the Atlantic.
After toooooooooo long in Zebrabar (a month), we are happy to be back on the road and soon happy to be back on the beach.
We leave St.Louis and Senegal via Diama on 24th of November.
Cristian, the Swiss who we became friends with, and his Mitsubishi are with us.
We don't want speed, just relax, inhale the air of the ocean, spend the evenings watching the stars.
It takes us 4 days to get to Nouakchott (less then 300km).
Driving the beach has never been better.
After Nouakchott, north the beach again
Loading up with food and water and organising a visa for Mali (the old I took out in Rabat is about to expire) and insurance for Mauritania takes a day.
I even manage to put the Ile-Gorée page onto the Internet. Not an easy task considering the speed of the connection in the Netland, a CyberCafé, fancy, held in tech-colors and design.
We leave Nouakchott on the the evening of the 29th November.
As night falls we pass the usual 3 check points (police, military, customs), only smiling faces, no documents asked, no hassle. They wish a pleasant journey, seem to be happy you came to visit their beautiful country. I am moved, I want to descend the vehicle and embrace the guy for the pleasant chat.
They're in power and happily content about it. "The military is getting things straight. Not all at once, but some. Nothing has been straight in this country, faked documents, number plates, all fraudulent..." Alex, a Belge Muslim convert in Nouakchott. He runs the restaurant Bruxelle, is married to a Mauritanian.
There was a clampdown on alcohol 4 days before we arrived. Restaurants, serving beer, would loose their licence. So I am looking at a (maybe 3 weeks) period without (Angst).
Those in power are showing off with their intentions to put things right. Their popularity is soaring.
Apparently the overthrown president Maaouya Ould Taya, had intentions to skip the "Islamic" and replace it with "Democratic" from "Republic of Mauritania" (under US influence!?, he had also embraced the Iraq war). "2 weeks later he was gone." explains Alex. "Islamic" is the property that makes Mauritania.
But democratic is the way things will be in the future according to the new military government of Col. Ould Mohamed Vall. A path of presidential and parliamentary elections has been outlined and given a go-ahead by the EU, the Francophonie and even the US. A French embassy official tells me over a bottle of cold Bandol Rosé (Provence) and some French gateau de pomme.
We met them on Sunday on the beach while driving to Nouakchott. La vie est belle on the beach facing the Atlantic ocean.
After Nouakchott, the next day the beach is ours again.
But a hub bearing, rear left, starts making problems. In the sand and the wind we succeed changing it, but it takes a while. Moral is down.
The next day, after success. The sea is flat, the wind has calmed, the low tide even further away (wind has pushed it out). We drive north with 60-80km/h.
A flock of several hundreds of birds goes up in the air as we attempt to drive through them. Air is clear again, light is good, colours are warm. Sunset is red, comme il faut, how it should be.
Hasna is lucky catching fish. 6 on one day, 7 the other day. Even before, we have found fish, "Capitain", 3Kilo a piece. "When they're too heavy they come to the shore to die". Some, still move, must have come onto the beach just minutes ago. Fresh, of the most delicious fish, and we did not even have to catch it, let alone buy it.
So life is sweet and cheap while on the beach. Tiéboudienne (Senegalese rice, vegetables and fish), or "poisson grillé".
Hasna's first try ever on a snow board.
Can't give it a pass, has to try everything...
Last night near the beach
Tomorrow we leave the sea,
the ocean, the Atlantic.
For the desert/then Mali.
Many month ahead without the cool breeze.
The natural humidity, the fresh fish, the swim.
The easy driving....
Desert first days.
5th of December 2005.
From the Atlantic ocean we go east. Deliberately we choose where.
There must be some passage. The unknown, untouched parts is what we are interested in.
And we accomplish an amazing journey, drive tracks that where not taken before.
But some work needs to be done occationally.
Disaster strikes - not really.
We managed incredible things with our vehicles. Cross the desert from west to east. Past Akjoujt we enter the sand again. All too confident.
Just when you think you have seen it all, when you don't take the risk serious any more, then it happens.
Cris later recalls: "I bogged down in deep sand myself, was about to get the sand ladders out, thinking 'What will they think that I got stuck again?'. But then, when I looked up I said to myself, 'What have they done?'".
Nothing really has happened. The Landy went down very slowly. In the back all stuff was thrown about (like the fridge/that came loose) and it took a while till everything was calm.
But noone hurt. 3 hours later the Landy was back on its wheels.
Final pics, before Atar.
After the adventure. We reach Atar.
Evening the 8th of December.
In the Camping Bab Sahara, I manage to get my hands onto two bottles of red and start working on the page.