Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mauritania

The last days in Western Sahara soon after Dakhla started to become tense. The heat increased the the wind slow down, the desert grew lonely and calm but I felt manifestation of its extreme energy.

20131112-153016.jpgBut nature creat balance event not only to the universe but even with oneself. Hundred kilometers before the frontier with Mauritania it is rocky and dunes over huge expanse of land, it is breathtaking vistas.

The small border village is dust and polluted with garbage. I sort camp in the nearby but due to extensive military activities I was fetched out with man on the robes great military swagger. On my effort try to get information why I shouldn’t camp the situation was intervened with young policeman who present great proffesinalism with more civil tone. He told me that it is too dangerous to camp because of snakes and scorpions. I was taken to only hotel if ever fit in the description, I choose my tent over the room. Camped at concert compound full lighted, roaring of big diesel generator with movement of late sleepers , even after a day of 150km I manage to fall a sleep after midnight and awoken early with new day activities

Next day the young policeman show up to ask how did I sleep, he was so friendly and naive avoiding to ruin his big smile I told him all was good. He said it is very nice place and safe that why he brought me there. He helped me with what seemed to be endless exiting procedures.

About 5km of what supposed to be ‘No man’s land’ now inhabited with people who are deported from Morocco after being caught in their attempt to cross ocean to Europe. Here they run work of dismantling stollen vehicle which litter the desert. Mauritania border post emerge with it two it green flags doted with young moon and start. It also militaristic though here are more lose rather hang out than being on duty but still like to bull people.

Straggled with head wind I reached Nouadhibour, a peninsula city. Cycle down along the long peninsula with it beach was quite nice. Arriving on the city it was less pleasant. It is crowded place with garbage pollution, smoke and dust from old vehicles. As other cities of Mauritania, it is very democratic, every body use the road as he is pleased though donkey riders receive bit more priority; Poor donkeys pulling the loaded cart with riders on top sometimes engaging to deep cell phone conversation, drive against the traffic, just among others more privilege.

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The uniqueness of this country is not only the ‘unquestioned democracy’,

20131112-153457.jpgCycle farther south Sahara loose it sharpness as well as it harshness. Now there are little grasses persisting but they remain as dots because long and hundred of sand dunes decorate the landscape. Herds of camels wonder up and down the dunes to find grasses while watched with the man on oversized robe and turban.

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I had a chance to visit Banc de Arguing National Park, with guiding from Antonia a man who have worked here for 15 years. I learn a greet deal of conservation efforts and challengers. The park has minimum human activities such as fishing with only sail boats and animals keeping, the system which have been there since the creation of the park. The old estuaries and the evidence that there were many rivers run down into atlantic thousands years ago, still exist. Now bust quite a number of birds population. From Pelicans, Flamingos, Herons, to small Sand Paper. Also there are archeological sites showing the remain of shells pilled by fishers 2000 years ago, this explain the movement of people and distribution of activities in the adaptation of desertification and climate change.

It is fascinating to watch the fishing boat elegantly cut through the wave with masculine black shining skin men again the crystal clear ocean. The golden dunes are separated with Atlantic Ocean with white sand beach, here clearly Sahara meet the Atlantic this offer magnificent view especial in the morning and evening of sun rise and down. The night sky is so clear and in this altitude the young moon lined up with venus offer the same image which is in the Mauritania flag.

Thanks to Azeddine Ould Daddah for great help, Hotel Halima for the luxury and comfortable room (http://www.hotel-halima.com/). Antonio Araujo and many more other for the invaluable help and support.

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Meanwhile waiting for Senegal visa.

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Western Sahara

Cycling through Western Sahara it feels like pedaling in alien environment. Here Sahara meet atlantic, this give it a stunning appearance

20131101-212109.jpg. The wild coast with break of fishing villages and some which grow into urbans, it is mainly ragged but there is good stretch of nice white sand beaches.

It is thrilling to cycle here but it equal threatening due to it extreme heat, wind and cyclone not to mention the trucks and fast Mercedes taxes. The accidents which I encountered time to time are quite gravely, in these long roads drivers dozy.

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The desert is monotonous, it always the same landscape. Sand dune show up time to time in other places almost blocking the road. Mostly of the time it flat barren land and ocean stretch as far as eyes can see. Looking at horizon the road grow narrow and narrow to the point that I can visualize Mr. Devil steering giant pot of heat and head wind.

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There is some dry lagoon, some places still have vivid evidence that it was under water rocks. I sometime stop and take a walk through this land which seem to have little mercy to any living thing, there wind chant constantly sometime violently blowing the soft sand which bit the skin. In the night this wind brook my tent polls which are now growing tired with weathers.

Non Self Government Territory.
The first cycling day out of Guilmim which is considered to Moroccans as the door to Sahara, my Moroccan flag was dismissed with locals. They claim that ‘this is Western Sahara and not Morocco’ . It is until I arrived in Morocco to learn that it almost forbidden to mention Western Sahara, Morocco occupy Western Sahara and all is under red flag with green star. It said that this was once a great empire. It another political complexity.

Well, Western Sahara territory is classified with UN as territory without self government. The most sparsely populated county in the world, a formal colon of Spain but left in partition to Mauritania and Morocco instead of helping to set up independent.This resulted to long time war and political conflict. Mauritania retreated.

Population is swelling, there are good number of new cities in the desert. These cities which possibly were former oasis and fishing villages they are so artificial and pose so many questions for their sustainability. Almost everything have to be haul into the desert, government subsides lot of things. Fuel is sold for half a price, no tax is charged for running business, etc. To provide drinking water and electricity for the growing population is another question on the realistic of this program. Another environmental if all this will depend on fossils fuel which so far it is, there are couple of wind mills and some cell phone tower powered with solar electricity. A sign for hope.

Part of traveling and particular travel with bicycle is to feel close touch of things, I hear different stories over and over from encounters, family and friends I made here. It is not pleasant sight to see injustice or oppression of any sort. Perhaps it such feeling of ‘young dream to save the world’ or frustration of inexperience of humanity complexity plus the physical and mental tiredness of this stretch that I left with this feelings.

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