Surviving the sand

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December 7th 2006
Published: December 7th 2006
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Can you guess who it is?Can you guess who it is?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
The perfect sundownerThe perfect sundownerThe perfect sundowner

Western Sahara
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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11th December 2006

Ah I see, just checking, we didn't want you to think we weren't writing to you. Am gripped with your blogg seriously-its such a good insight with your photos and your descriptions!! those kids must have been well cute!! And I just cant imagine how I'd cope with not having shower facilities for so long-very brave with all those smelly boys ha ha ha take care babe tom xxx
12th December 2006

Hi spankie am totally amazed by your blog not just the beaty of the presentation but also by the content of course! wow what an incerible adventure!am so glad that you are all having a really good giggle!! thats what i like to hear. cant believe youve been away a mjonth already how fantastic! you look great in your piccie aswell! impressive howd you manage that?! i am working long days on an elderly care ward in teh hosp which is heavy but really enjoyable. am trying to get in some essay before christmas and get it sorted so that the final five weeks of placement arent too painful after chrimbo with paperwork etc. things with tom are fine all the usual stuff applies here. eating too much in the last three weeks in preparation for the run upto eating too much before and during the festive season(so yes its all about the food and developing belly!) and am going home this weekend to see dad cos its his bday and jelly cant remember whether i said but shes had three puppies ahh! i have named the boy beardy because he is all black with a little white beard-genius! nowt else to say except that i am presuming that you heard about our disastrous house party which has kind of dampened all relationships in our house except that of me and cerian-and thats the ned of it just hope we get our full deposit back... dont want to leave on a sour note so thankyou for the vodka and am thinking of going home now to have a go on your bike love! have fun although i know you will and are! mimxxxxxxxxxx
15th December 2006

Chirstmas time, sand in your wine, children singing, more sand in your wine
Hey Frankie, I am staggered by your photo's. If what you are seeing is even half as beautiful as the pictures suggest you must spend most of yout time in complete awe of your surroundings. It's christmas soon, I hope you don't miss home too much whilst you are away, but be happy in the knowledge that we are all thinking of you :) It is now 2 years since I was out there, I still cannot even begin to pay Nick back for taking me to Kenya, it really was a trip of a lifetime, and yet you are doing at least 50 times the trip we took to Turkana, it must be incredible to have seen and done so much and yet still have so much left to do......will you ever return or do you see youself doing Asia next? I hope you continue to have a superb time, and to help you continue your great time when you get back (in about 3 years time probably...!!) I have started to dig you your very own 'long drop' in the garden and have an asortment of sands, salts and muds that you can put in your hair to remind ou of your travels..... Anyhooo, enough talk of things that are many many months in the future. Keep traveling, keep taking pictures and keep on writing as your bloggs keep the rest of us thrilled by living your adventures through your words. Take care hon. Chris.
19th December 2006

bush toilets!
Hey Chris, thanks for comments, I'm impressed you got through my random ramblings! Africa is amazing, I defy anyone not to fall in love with it, lucky Nick for getting to go back so often. Not sure I'll be away for as long as you think, probably 6-8 months before funds run out, but I'm sure the adventurous streak will stay with me. Thanks for the long drop and sand, I do prefer the bush toilets out here but I think I'll be happy to have an en-suite again when I get home! Anyway, I promise to continue making everyone jealous with my tales, glad it's working!
19th December 2006

Mimbo Bimbo!
Hey mimbo! Sorry not been in touch properly my love, i hope you understand how hard it is to get time and things to work when you're away. Hope you're ok and not working too hard, bet the grannys love you! Bet the Jelly puppies are unbelievably cute, much cuter than our 'puppy'! Send me all the gossip in a proper email!! Happy Christmas/New Year etc and speak to you soon fxx

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