Banc D'Arguin Coast, Mauritania, Oct 17 - 18, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Mauritania  ,
Thursday, October 18, 2007

We continued with our sand matting through the Dunes of Doom the following morning, hitting the coastal lagoons within a few hours where there were plenty of opportunities for bird watching in the national park's shallow bays and inlets - flamingoes, terns, gulls, egrets, herons, storks, ibis, and ospreys to name but a few.  Ian and Blair, the group's two leading bird addicts were in their glory.  The park's headquarters was at a small fishing village named Manghar, one of the dreariest most impoverished places I've seen.  Our intent was to drive on the beach for the next 100 miles or so, but we had to wait about four hours for low tide to drive on more solid wet sand, time to have lunch, go for a swim, and walk along the beach. 
Well, with time to kill I decided to go for a dip in rather calm warm Atlantic waters.  I had been in the water for perhaps twenty minutes and was feeling relaxed and about chest deep in the water when I suddenly noticed a large fin sticking up out of the water about 15 feet away and the same distance from the shore as I was.  The fin moved quite quickly out to sea and disappeared below the surface.  I tried not to make any waves to attract the attention of what I assumed was a shark, but moved quickly back to shore.  Whew, another close brush with death - I'm going through my nine lives in Africa like they're going out of style!  Of course, I don't know for a fact that it was a shark, and Ian suggested a dolphin as a more likely possibility.  And instead of appreciating my shark warning, the others were just annoyed at me for spoiling their blissful ignorance since now they were afraid to go in the water as they had planned. 
The drive along the beach and occasionally into the waves was great fun, especially since we took turn sitting in the roof seats for a 360 degree panoramic view and a fresh sea breeze through out hair.  There was plenty more sand matting at dusk as Dave and Ben moved Daphne into the softer sand further up on the beach to get her above the high tide line to camp, an act of seeming busywork that had to be repeated again in the other direction in the morning, and then a third time to get the truck off the beach and onto a paved road.  I'm afraid I'm notoriously poor on the whole "collective intelligence" type thing of knowing my role when working together with others, something that seems to come so easily to other people.  Using sand mats to free a stuck truck is one such situation, where I certainly have the strength to move the heavy metal mats and the know how to place them but the presence of at least half a dozen people around me whom I have to work with to accomplish the task just scatters my brains.  I guess I've just always been more of a rugged individualist than a team player. 
It was my turn to cook dinner on the beach that night, and something didn't seem just quite right as I was cutting up the meat I bought in Nouadhibou into little cubes for my Hungarian Goulash.  Ahmed, our Mauritanian guide leading us through the Dunes of Doom, informed me that the meat sold to me as beef was most definitely camel.  So I renamed my dish "Chameau Hungarienne", and unintentionally flambeed it when the foul Moroccan whisky no one would drink that I added to tenderize the meat caught fire.  The camel meat's flavor was quite mild, and I could easily have been fooled into thinking I was eating beef had Ahmed not informed me otherwise.

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