[ Bir Gandouz, Western Sahara]
I mean, are you really sure you want to leave Morocco? Really sure you want to continue with this adventure? ARE YOU SURE you’re up for it?
Such are the questions the weather is planting in my wind-whipped consciousness. My answers at the moment involve lots of whining, I’m afraid.
I’m so close to Mauritania I can taste it, but the weather is testing my resolve. What should have been two easy days with a tailwind has morphed into a stalled high pressure system delivering sustained 48kph headwinds (30mph) with gusts up to [imagine me cursing loudly because the number is unknown and doesn’t matter].
Yesterday’s should’a’been-simple, 38 kilometer ride took six-plus hours rather than the expected two. I arrived here demoralized and spent. Also dirty, surrounded by an aura of Pure Stink, out of water, and in desperate need of sugar and mounds of food. The police at the checkpoint looked at me like I had three heads. Perhaps I can claim major badass status for completing those miles, but I have also learned this: anyone who crosses this desert going the other way? Legendary Beings of Awesomeness. I can’t even imagine.
Now I sit, surrounded by military and UN types, camped out behind a gas station and construction site watching the weather forecast and listening to the winds scream. My tent is protected from them by a giant wall, and is staked out with discarded rebar just to be sure. (I’m not kidding, and have included a pic to prove it…the last one in the gallery.)
On the plus side, I’ve had some great experiences. There was an overnight with a work crew across the bay from Dakhla (I asked to pitch my tent and instead got two hot meals and an indoor bunk for the night). I crossed the Tropic of Cancer. There was a night spent truly out in the dunes, hidden from the wind by crazy, enormous formations held together by shrubs with long wire-like roots. A “cafe” inhabited by a small, bike-chewing horse and a stray dog. And the aforementioned Hell Ride of yesterday.
Oh, and the terrain? Stunning. Vast. Austere. Relentless. Surprisingly varied.
Since I’m camped out anyway, you get an update.
Hopefully this will be the last update from Morocco. Mauritania, here we come!