|Love and attention|
Next morning, just after leaving Dakhla, we stopped for petrol and Sean discovered a problem with his chain’s split link. We had carried a spare but despite taking all our gear apart it wasn't to be found so he did a repair, held his breath and off we went. Terrain began to change to white sand with flat top dunes. Came over a crest to the stunning scene of a white sand beach with turquoise and aquamarine water that stretched out forever. As we rode along I was busy pinching myself to believe the beauty of it all when I heard something slam under the bike and then a dragging sound. Pulled over to discover that unbelievably my fucking chain had snapped – problems with both chains in one day – WTF - it’s the middle of NOWHERE.
Given that we were a) in the middle of the desert and b) only a hand full of vehicles passed us each hour, our only option was to pick ourselves up and continue. This time however we put the rope on the right-hand grab of Seanie’s girl to the pull rope on my forks - far away from the wheels! We came to learn that the trick is in the stopping, the front bike is the power but the back bike should do all the braking, very tricky though – we crawled in 3rd gear for the next VERY LONG 20km and finally reached a petrol station.
|The magic garage|
as petrol and a loo – what were the fucking odds? Approached one of the (v. easy on the eye!!) mechanics to ask if he could fix it so he worked away on the chain for a bit then disappeared. About an hour later he pulled up in a car (we hadn’t spotted him leave) with a very rust old chain of the
|The wonderful mechanic|
Next morning went back to the same petrol station to spend the last of our Dirham before the border. Having MD2.50 left after water and petrol I gave it to the young shop guy and asked for chocolate bars expecting 3 or 4 - I kid you not he filled half a plastic bag!!! As I was finishing Sean came in to the shop with a sense of urgency. The cop who’d tried to extract the bribe from us in Boujdour just turned up – we thought shit, if he wanted to he could have a go for something again and this time his colleagues weren’t around to stop him. We had planned on sitting down and enjoying some
of the snacks before the ride but we got our arses to the bikes and got the fuck out of there sharpish. Have to admit to nervously glancing in my mirrors for the first 20 mins to see if anyone was following us. Was having flashes of all those movies I've seen with people trapped in a vast wilderness with a bent cop chasing them and there’s nowhere to escape to! Far too much time in the desert with nothing to distract me I think – your imagination goes a bit wild. Found out later the same thoughts were running through Sean's head - you can't make this shit up!
|Not a bent cop in sight.|
Got to the border by midday, after completing police and customs paperwork we spoke with a guard who told me (in perfect English) ‘sorry I don’t speak English, I only speak French so won’t be able to help you’- a really nice guy, he gave us loads of useful info. After the last passport control section you are free to enter ‘no man’s land’ about a mile of disputed land between the borders and is a mix of broken rock and very soft sand. WOW - we were all over the place, it was very very hard work on top of which it was baking hot. The
|Next stop Mauritania.|
Finally go to Mauritian border with the sweat pouring off of us in litres. At the police office we were accosted by an army officer insisting that we had to get insurance from the guy accompanying him. I said we’d talk about it later, he responded ‘No do it now', took Sean’s exit paper off of him and gave it to Mr Insurance, I thought bugger that so took it back. The army guy then demanded to know how many days we needed insurance for – we said we don’t know, and he got really pushy but as I wouldn’t budge he finally
|Out side the 'motel'|
We needed fuel and found a ‘petrol station’ which only had 2 diesel pumps. Sean asked for gasoline, the young guy nodded and went to put fuel from one of the pumps in, stopping him Sean asked if it was gasoline
|Second fill up.|
|Camel bones by night..|
|A willing model.|
|and in morning sun|
|Sunrise and wind still blowing|
Next morning after a shit night’s sleep due the windstorm and its accompanying sand based exfoliating
treatment had continued through the night) we woke to discover that
EVERYTHING was coated or filled with sand - twas in our eyes, noses, ears, our skin was covered in it, and every time we closed our teeth it crunched, blaaaccchhh. Packing up was a nightmare - had to try to clean all the gear before putting it away. To add insult to injury the door zip of our lovely tent has given up the ghost – the constant wind for the last week had buggered it so its zip no longer closed.
|Windswept and interesting?|
Sean had to give the bikes a check over and clean the air filters before we could set off, even that required having our scarves wrapped round our faces and nothing could be put down as it blew away instantly. The flat scrub desert terrain remained unchanging for hours on end which meant no sneaky pee opportunities, was having to get my timing right behind my bike between passing cars - nettles are no longer a problem, the hazard now is desert thorns, shan’t complain about nettles again!!
The Berber tents are everywhere, small white square structures with pointy tops. The only other structures are small wooden shacks – bunches of which make up a township – though unless you’re told and start to look really closely you wouldn’t know – the give-away is the boxes of mineral water stacked up inside the entrance. The stocks in the ‘shops’ are very basic, lots of water, juices and soft drinks, and bread, pasta, biscuits and sponge cakes, and very little else. There are endless police stops and they take all your details each time but all very friendly.
Passed one township and the kids ran out to wave at us and run after the bikes, delighted with the game of chasing us. At one check point the children came out of the shacks and waved at us for ages, then one brave little girl came across the road and said ‘caudex Madame’, we took out some fruity chews and suddenly the group shyness mysteriously disappeared -we were surrounded!! It was brilliant, and when we headed off we got very enthusiastic waves goodbye.
As we were chewing over these conundrums a woman and man started to set up a stall beside where we were sitting. We asked the woman about an ATM, she called the man over and between them they (patiently, given our poor grasp of French) explained that as it was 5pm the bank was shut and it wouldn’t open tomorrow. We asked about a Bureau de Change and after a discussion amongst themselves the woman said that the man would take us to one in a taxi if we wanted him to. She said we could leave the bikes and she’d make sure they were ok. With typical western thinking we immediately thought ‘shit will they be safe’ but our gut said the offer of help was genuine - so we said ok. The woman took our lids and again assured us she’d watch the girls.
|Mr & Ms S.|
couple of them had some English which was great. Mr Exchange returned and handed me cash but there
|Baguettes from heaven.|
Ms S was selling huge baguettes, about 1.5 foot long, stuffed with some sort of meat stew, lettuce, egg, some fried thing and loads of mayo and tomato sauce and it smelled bloody delicious. Sean was starving so we got one, it cost OGY300, feed both of us, and was fucking delicious.
|Beautiful end to long day|