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Published: December 7th 2006
Can you guess who it is?
Yes Nick, we did go native and all get head scarves, and boy are they a relief from the wind and sand and flies!
Apparently the average person in the UK uses 200 litres of water a day, for drinking, cooking, cleaning, toilets etc. For the past week we have been surviving on 6 to 8 litres a day...the result is not a pleasant sight or smell!
Well we have made it through the big sand pit as far as the capital of Mauritania, mostly in one piece. The truck is suffering slightly with a leaking fuel tank, not what you want to find out half way across the sahara!
What can I say about the Sahara? It is BIG! There is a lot of SAND! It is hot and windy. Sand can cover every inch of your body in about 20 seconds out here. Flies will home in on your head in 10 seconds out here. There are rarely any bushes to squat behind! Climbing sand dunes before dinner is great exercise. Digging big yellow trucks out of sand dunes is even better exercise!
We have spent the past ten days driving mostly along the coast, so there has been some relief from the sand and the midday sun when we get a chance to take a dip in the sea
at lunch time. Some of the beaches have been stunning, the one on the Tropic of Cancer could have been paradise. There have been some great surf breaks and lots of shipwrecks along the way too.
It has warmed up enough for me to brave sleeping outside under the stars. It's amazing how bright the moon and stars are out in the middle of nowhere. The last few nights have been like one long sleep over, with about 9 of us all lined up on a mat, gossipping and giggling into the night (and that's mostly the boys!) We're all starting to relax properly and we have a lot of fun. I don't think i've ever laughed so hard as the other night when our cheeky trip leader, Jeff, stole mine and Beccie's pillows and Dan, being the gentleman he is, went to save them for us. The sight of Dan, looking like Billy Elliot in his silk tights, chasing Jeff round and round, up and under the truck in the moonlight will stay with me forever!!
We crossed into Mauritania on Sunday and the change of country has been really noticeable. The ethnic shift from the Arab
north towards Black West Africa, the clothes are brighter, the streets are dustier, the children generally friendlier, the toilets downright disgusting!!
On our first night in Mauritania we camped on the beach just outside Nouadhibou. It's hard to keep a big yellow truck hidden for long and soon we were surrounded by hoards of children clamouring for our attention. This is the kind of situation I was looking forward to. They were so sweet, watching us play games in the sand and cook dinner. We let them have our leftover food and in return they helped clean all the pots and were so efficient at putting things away none of us had stools to sit on! My terrible french didn't help conversation to flow, but they thought we were hilarious and were obviously having a good laugh at my attempts! If the photos upload then I can't take credit for them all, the little boys were fascinated by the camera and so excited to take their own pictures!
One other sight crossed off the list...I have seen flamingoes up close in the wild! We passed through a nature reserve famous for it's birdlife and also saw huge pelicans, heron,
spoonbills, and osprey catching fish. There's an open area at the front and top of the truck we call the beach, it is perfect for viewing wildlife and catching the sun as we drive along.
So now we are back to civilisation and the pure luxury of not just running water, but a powerful, hot shower. I don't dare describe the colour of the water that ran off me after 9 days with nothing more than the odd wet-wipe bath! Nor the number of attempts it took to get a comb through my sandy, salt encrusted hair!
Tonight we are going out for pizza to celebrate one month away. A very welcome change from eating canned food, onions and unidentifiable rolled meat! In the next couple of days we are heading back north to visit some oasis towns. Then we will be crossing more of the Sahara (although on the less adventurous tar roads I think) into Mali, where we will spend Christmas and New Year. Hope all is well back home and you're starting to feel festive! Fxx
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