Monday 14th March ~ wild camp north of Dakhla to Dakhla town campsite. Still not there … yet.
blunt, basic and to the point – get to Dakhla and find out as much as possible. Then keep on going as planned to the border and see….
They may not even let us into Mauritania if it really is bad. But we should get some idea between here and there of the likelihood of trouble. One thing we have is a ‘Plan B’. Sounds good – but talk is easy / action not so.
I’m reminded of the time Joey Dunlop the famous Northern Ireland Bike racer that one year took his bikes to the Isle of Man by a small fishing boat rather than the main ferry. En-route – the boat sank!
So, get to Dakhla – a border town, the last point of civilisation in Western Sahara, and go to the port. We know the port is a busy fishing port – lots of locals with boats of various sizes, making their living from the sea. What if a bunch of Westerners show up on little motorbikes with a fistful of Euros and a desire to travel by the scenic route to Senegal? Thus bypassing Mauritania completely.
Easy money for the fisherman / easy solution for us. What could possibly go wrong?
I know some of the guys are considering another plan entirely. If the potential danger gets intense or calculating safety just becomes too hard to estimate – they will leave the Bikes and go home – fly (or attempt to at least) from Dakhla to… well, ANYwhere north really. Though Marrakesh is the most likely destination, but a European ‘hub’ (such as London or Frankfurt)would be better. For myself I know that when you have been focused on one thing for so long and it appears to be disintegrating, your view goes from a single point to a prism, then a kaleidoscope of ever changing possibilities. I haven’t the budget to just turn around and go home, and it hurts to even think about an about face. For two years I’ve been planning this trip. With all its highs and lows pros and cons adrenaline rushes and scary thoughts. All my plans, physical and mental face one direction; Gambia. This sends a chill down my spine. Life often throws a spanner in your works that makes you have to rethink. But while experience has taught me much – I’ve never faced a decision making situation like this before!
Focus Marc! … Mentally slapping myself in the face I come back to earth with a bang. No point and no time to ‘project’ all the ways this can go wrong. Mark Twains observation reminds me; “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
So, Get Real Marc. I remind myself. He was right – for a start, it’s true that it can’t all go wrong. At least not all at once. Not totally and irretrievably. Options will arise – I just cant see them from this mental and physical location.
Also, that I’m not exactly naive and innocent. I’ve lived a life that so far has been unusual, unconventional, eventful, diverse and at times right on the edge of sanity and when still young and stupid (or brave) I risked that life, my liberty, my health and even my mind – all in the hedonistic pursuit of ‘fun’. So why worry now? (I don’t apologise for the text below – it is precisely what then went through my head next.)
In this life there are only two things to worry about.
Either you will be rich or poor.
If you are rich, there is nothing to worry about.
But if you are poor, there are only two things to worry about.
Either you will be healthy or sick.
If you are healthy, there is nothing to worry about.
But if you are sick, there are two things to worry about.
Either you will live or you will die.
If you live, there is nothing to worry about.
If you die there are only two things to worry about.
You will either go to heaven or to hell.
If you go to heaven, there will be nothing to worry about.
If you go to hell, you’ll be so darn busy shaking hands with all your friends,
you won’t have time to worry!
So why worry?
… All the same, there’s a little boy that is inside me, inside every single one of us on this planet, that dictates so much of their adult actions and behaviour. Mine poked his head up from the back of my mind, where he’d been since this had come to a head and wailed at me; “But I’m scared of the unknown!”
Man up Marc. Deep breath. The reminder I’m alive. I get a little frisson of adrenaline. I laugh from the buzz of it all. Now, I’m ready. Bring it on!
Dakhla is a town that in itself looks to me guarded and wary – prepared for change and trouble. I say that probably because of its location and how for us at least, it is set up for preparation to travel, for movement, for evacuation.
You know – just looking at the two last lines above, it’s not even true – it’s just my perspective makes it look this way. But I’m going to leave that there because it does sum up where my head is at and what my priorities are. In reality the town has had a fair bit of money pumped into it. A lot of the buildings, the roads, the infrastructure is new. Obvious attempts have been made to make it look good, here to stay, – a thriving town – But a lot of it appears built and immediately abandoned. If I were Moroccan I’d see the sense in making this place well established and pointedly Moroccan. Just in case Mauritania chose to argue over who owned it… again. There have been attempts to get Moroccan people to move here, to establish a population, a stronghold perhaps? This has not been altogether successful, hence the many abandoned and half built estates, both housing and industrial. After all, once outside the town, if you weren’t a fisherman, just what the hell would you /could you make a living off?
For a place so remote, the Airfield is busy, worryingly the only aircraft I see are military or small private jets. You would wonder why the many private jets? But I do so quietly, as I suspect that my wild speculations could be way off the mark. But they cost a lot to run. Just what could happen here to generate the necessary wealth?
Tom took a bit of film of a neat little Executive jet that was ‘parked’ just off the road on the way into the town. He was swiftly discouraged by the guard that stood over it – angrily waving an automatic rifle at him.
There’s always a change in the mood when we enter a town. Obviously, even on a small machine your pace slows and observation points and links are more focused on people and traffic more than land and road. But today has its own personal tension. Whether you’re looking outward or inward, this has a sharpness.
Never has the phrase “Looking at the lie of the land” meant more to me.
I’m stopping now. This has been hard to write – but well worth it. I’ve left it too long to get back to this to finish this blog. But I really want to get this right. It deserves to be done to the best of my ability. I must say I worried it would be hard to recall after so long and impossible to just carry on where I left off. It will soon be a year since this trip took place! I think I’ve done o.k. – and now, I’m not fishing for compliments / just feedback, so – what say you?
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And he’s back! Good to see, looking forward to the next instalment 🙂
Marc, stop whittling, it makes fantastic reading and , from someone else who was there seeing and experiencing the same things, it’s great to read a different view on the experience. Now GET ON WITH IT 🙂