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Piero Favero | all galleries >> Galleries >> Sahara 4x4 - Mauritania > Travel diary
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Travel diary

1st day - Tragic arrival in the capital Nouakchott: my luggage was lost by Air Maroc (two weeks in the desert with a T-shirt and one boxer slip) and all around is a biblical scourge of crickets, each tree is totally covered by the insects. Fortunately Mouloud, the owner of the local SURMI voyages, is extremely gentle and gives me a suit of clothes. We start! I am also with 7 friendly and travel experienced germans. Voilą the flat desert without trees, the earth as it was some millions of years ago at the begining of life and also before. Tomorrow is the begining of Ramadan, a period of fasting and prayer for all muslims. I'm also going to the desert for prayer: looking for Gaia, the mother Earth, the sole nature goddess who contains all creatures. We sleep between golden dunes at the hotel a las belles etoiles , there is no moon this night and I watch the milky way just as I did during my trip in Algeria.
2nd day - We head straight into the Sahara, and we stop at Akjoujt after visiting the water source industry of Benichab. Inside the Toyota with the music of Dragostea, looking at beautiful landscapes, I feel happy, what more do you need? At the oasis of Terjit the water appears all around as a miracle; we sleep among the palms of this little paradise. The light of the stars filter between the branches and the magic fire-flies flash around: it is an enchanted place!
3rd day - Sunday. In the Atar market you have to fight to haggle the price even to buy a slip. We pass near the majestic canyon of Amogjar and look at the stone paintings of giraffes and buffalos from the time when the Sahara was a green forest. We stop at the ancient city of Cinguetti. A german woman falls severely ill, with a suspected intestinal obstruction. I give her assistance all through the night together with Beatriz, a spanish doc from Murcia, who founded the efficient Hospital of Cinguetti.
4th day - The ill woman returned to Germany after her hallucinations stopped at the hospital of Atar; I think every western tourist must have an organized visit to an African hospital to understand. During the evening I happened to meet Beatriz again and we had a dinner of camel meat, with the host of the venetian-friulan wife of the owner of the Auberge El Menara.
5th day - Along beautiful golden dunes we arrive at the ancient city of Oudane, with vast ruins of stone buildings and walls. We made an unscheduled stop to change a punctured tire, and the crick got covered by sand. But Gerard (german engineer) with a big stone solved the problem. After days of lonely life in the desert, the sunset transforms the pink dunes into breasts and female butts: is it a mirage? I walk barefoot on the sand, what a massage.
6th day - We are headed to Paris-Dakar through soft sands and with difficult driving. We get off course several times and get covered by sand. On the way to Mount Zerga, we stop at the metorit crater of Aoueilloul. On an infernal pass the ground is covered by black stones and the tableland seems like the land on Mars. We look for a place to put the camp, but the stones never end...
How is my search of Gaia, the great mother of nature going? Believe me, I have found her! Yes, she is everywhere I look, in every hiss of wind, in every feeling of friendship and peace. Inside me, in the mental map of all things.
7th day - I slept very well under the crest of a dune that protected me from the wind. I wake up surrounded by a lot of busy scarabaei. We ask the shepherds for a lamb to eat but the price is too high (tourist price).
8th day - We drive through a labyrinth of small yellow dunes on black gravel ground, following the tracks left by a car as if it is the yarn of Arianna. The end of the labyrinth is the best moment of the trip. At the plateau border there is wonderful landscape: a boundless sea of dunes... yellow, pink, white. I'm happy. Going to south along the Paris-Dakar track it becomes very hot (42°C), and we travel always without air conditioning.
9th day - Friday. We wash ourself with the water of an oasis well before we visit the old and new city of Rachid. Then in Tidjikia I meet the friends and relatives of Be, our interpreter. Arabians are a friendly and honest people, they are very generous. But you have to approach them in the right way: as they are talkative people, you must talk first! Salam Aleikum. Yak la bas? Ishtari? (Peace with you. How are you? Any news?).
10th day - Saturday. We stay by a village of tribal people. The news spreads that I'm a medical doctor: the chief of the village asks me to visit a girl bitten by a snake, the wound is infected and I give her antibiotics. Many sick people form a line and ask me to help.
11th day - Along the border with the Sael zone we hike in Matmata. There is a large pool where I see a lot of crocodiles under the surface of the water, only one above (is not easy to see the Saharan crocodiles). The remainder of the afternoon we rest in the shadows like nomads (for a European this is a hard life). That night the whole village gathers to celebrate our coming with the Tam Tam. Girls dance totally veiled, except for the face like charming ghosts. I leapt into a frantic dance, it is not Salsa but I have fun! The next morning the chief of the village comes to tell me that the girl bitten by the snake is better, the swelling decreased and gangrene is avoided. I begin the day very happy. (Due to whomever robbed or lost my luggage with my portable Pharmacy I cannot do more for the multitude of ill people asking me to help).
12th day - There is grass on the ground: the Sael region is ahead. We visit the small cities of Aleg and Boguč, until we reach the Senegal river. During dinner an uninvited guest arrives: a scorpion.
13th day - Along the Senegal river towards Rosso we cross arid land with rare bushes and spiny trees; some rice plantations. We have difficulty finding the correct way so we pick up a local boy to show us the way to Rosso.
14th day - Diawling National Park on the Delta of Senegal river. Grey herons, ducks, pelicans, hawks. A lot of wild boar and iguanas. Nymphaeas on the water. This is the last night in the desert, dunes are lit by a full moon. I hear the call of a jackal. Three o' clock in the middle of the night I open my eyes and I see the wonder of a full starry sky despite the full moon... but the round moon is dark: lunar eclipse!
15th day - Nouakchott, the capital. We visit to the archaeological museum, bathe in the Atlantic Ocean at sunset (1000 Km of beach!) and eat dinner in a Moroccan restaurant.
What did I learn from the desert? To live free from the superfluous, free from the fear of inexistent ghosts.
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Olympus C-750UZ
1/400s f/5.6 at 13.4mm iso50 full exif

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