[ Nouakchott, Mauritania]
It’s 3:35am, the train is gone, and I’m standing alongside the track alone, in the dark. My trusty Black Diamond headlamp picked this precise moment to give up the ghost. The nightly vans taking people to Atar tried to get me on board, failed, then drove off. There were no lights, no sound but the wind, no nothing. I used my phone light as a backup until I was on gravel, then let my eyes adjust to the darkness. Within 15 minutes I located the main intersection in town and stumbled (literally) upon two men sleeping out under the stars in front of their shop. I laid out my tarp and sleeping bag and joined them, sleeping like a baby in the cool desert wind.
These images are from that first day: waking up in Choum and meeting a few locals; riding into the new and very different terrain of the Adrar Plateau (the name for this area of the Mauritanian Sahara); passing time with a goatherd under a shade tree mid-afternoon; climbing a small pass to the top of the plateau and camping for the night.
I made it only about 75km this first day, but they were a perfect bookend to the previous night’s train ride.