The latest posts, regardless of story or project
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as dumb as when I bring Ananda to Marrakesh Airport. My thoughts are not at all with the awesome adventures that lie ahead. Why would any sane person leave for three months in search of “adventure” in some of the least developed places in the world, when I get to share my daily life with the most wonderful person, who brightens and expands my world on a daily basis?
29 nov – 2 dec 2019 ~ This time in Marrakesh, I am not alone, still poor, but with a wife that loves a bit of shopping. That also brings me into much closer contact with the curious art of Moroccan salesmanship. It can be equally infuriating, fascinating, and funny.
29 nov – 2 dec 2019 ~ So… here we go again… A solo backpacking trip in West Africa. Sounds familiar? It’s a continuation of my trip in 2014, but now I have an awesome job to go back to (so no unlimited travel time; 3 months max), and a most wonderful wife, which makes even a three week solo trip seem awfully long. Thankfully she’ll be accompanying me for my first four days in Marrakesh.
The pickup truck’s rear is filled up with fridges, food, furniture, construction materials, a few goats, and who knows what else, until the cargo is more than twice the size of the pickup truck itself… and then some ten people clamber on top of the cargo. I’m about to experience one of those quintessentially Saharan journeys, but I barely notice, let alone feel like taking a photo (I don’t want to do anything that makes it more obvious that I’m a tourist).
There are many gueltas in the Sahara desert, and they’re often a lifesaver for nomadic herders. What makes this particular guelta special, though, is that it is one of the last places in the Sahara desert where the West African Crocodile still lives.
The sea is dotted with hundreds of pirogues, waiting to be brought ashore. The beach is littered with thousands of men, women and children, whose job is apparently to bring the fish from the boats to the traders. It’s a dramatic scene, and one that repeats itself every afternoon.
On the morning of my sisters’ birthday, I meet a couple from Bretagne, named Simon and Valerie. Their great passion is west-African music. Their main reason for coming to this part of the world is to interview and record West-African artists and others in the music industry. They are looking for an American, who supposedly lives in Nouakchott and records local artists. It sounds interesting, but it ends up leading to by far the craziest day of my life…
For the most part, this is a thoroughly uninspiring city; it was a fisherman’s village of only a few hundred people until the 1950’s, when Mauritania became independent. Since it had always tagged along as the most neglected colony within the colossal French West Africa, it had never needed a capital, or much of anything approaching a center of organisation. So when the country became independent, it needed a new capital, and fast. Someone, somewhere decided that the little fishing village of Nouakchott, or “windy place”, should become the capital.
I’m curious about the dinner invitation by Coumba, the sister of the bride at yesterday’s wedding. Cora calls her for me, and as luck would have it, Coumba can make it tomorrow evening. The following day, Edgar and Katie invite Adrian and me to join them on a trip to an oasis, about 50 kilometers from Atar, called Terjit. Apparently it’s located in a ravine. Having already seen a stunning palm oasis in a ravine in Morocco (a Ait Mansour), I’m not terribly excited. As it turns out, my scepticism was completely unjustified; Terjit oasis is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen.