Thursday, April 27, 2017

Old mutton tajines


We left the service station and adjoining cafe in Foum el-Oued at dawn, the poor man that checked tyre pressures got a rude awakening with Franki parked outside his shed.  Once our checks were done, we were good to go.  Aiming for Boujdour for breakfast we promptly set off again along the road that could be mistaken for Mars, apart from the odd camel.  It seems the monotony of the endless road played tricks in my mind when I started comparing Franki's early morning shadow to a camel!
Franki Camel

Entrance to Boujdour

Stunning breakfast at Boujdour

We had an excellent stop in the early morning sun in Boujdour, wonderful breakfast and then hit the road again, which quickly became a U-turn as we missed the petrol station to fill Franki up with 0.70€ per litre diesel.  The aim was to have lunch in Dakhla then to make it to Bir Gandouz for the night, just over 80km from the Mauritanian border as it was going to be too late to cross today.  

Quite a few kilometres further on, it wasn't quite midday but we pulled into a service station I remembered from previous trips.  Astonished to find that it was deserted, I remember lots of grand taxis, long distance buses and other travellers always pulling in here.  Still mystified as to why they've lost their trade, memories of the most wonderful mutton tajines; all we could sadly find was a sheep's head!  Two very funny guys keen to serve us coffee and muster up some chairs to sit outside and enjoy the barren 'view'!

What was a thriving kitchen is sadly now becoming part of the desert
It's all gone, nothing to show of it's former busy past!

Dakhla had changed also, grown massively, a lot more Europeans there for the winter to kitesurf and enjoy the warmer climate.  We found a Greek/Lebanese cafe in town to have some hoummous stuffed salad buns, strange mix but we enjoyed it.  Christophe went off to find a pharmacy, unfortunately they all had handwritten signs on the door in Arabic declaring something but seemed to be promising to be open at 1pm, it was already past 1pm and it was all deserted!  We presumed there must have been a pharmaceutical convention on, no one could tell us why they were closed so we continued south with Christophe's toothache.

Finally we rolled into Bir Gandouz before dusk 786km covered on our fifth day since leaving France; fourth day of driving. It seems many overlanders like to stop at Hotel Barbas a few hundred metres into town which was probably out of our price range.  We found the most wonderful place just on the edge of town, Hotel Etoilhm Lamhiriz with fuel directly outside and lots of parking. Christophe used the barbers downstairs (loosing his stubble seemed to help his toothache!) and I found the cafe/restaurant.  The 150Dh rooms were clean and newly finished, the shower was luke warm but it was welcome after last night!  An added bonus it had great wi-fi!  We were all set to cross into Mauritania in the morning!

Whilst having a mint tea after supper before the last of the red wine had to be finished for the border in the morning; a UK registered van turned up.  A French/English couple got out with 2 very small children, one was a 8 month old baby.  This was Charlie and his family, having left Spain they were heading for Dakar but he wasn't happy with the 140€ visa cost per person to enter Mauritania with the family nor did he realise he was taking his children into a malarial zone with other nasties such as typhoid ... We talked at length with him whilst his wife put the children to bed, he decided to return north (or so we thought!)
A change of scenery finally, about 50kms after Dahkla
The road does get very monotonous!
Definitely on the right road, beware of the sand ... and the ferocious dogs in the compound next to this roadsign!

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