20 May 2010

Camels ahead - Western Sahara

Wind, sand and camels.
The big national road N1 takes us along the Atlantic coast into Western Sahara. The wind is incredibly strong - not just strong - but strong enough to push one into the ditch when absentminded for a little while in the saddle. Fortunately indeed, it hits us as a hind wind now. With speeds up to 30km per hour we whizz through the desert!

Every couple of kilometers there is a sign asking to pay attention to camels crossing the road. At first I expect them to be as useless as I remember the warnings from my first bicycle trip through Finland back in 1994: bright yellow moose signs everywhere but not a single moose to be found!
Not so here in the desert - there are camels all over the place. Most of them free range, just strolling about in small herds, eating the thorny bushes on the roadside. No herdsmen to be seen. Every once in a while we stumble upon an unlucky one; either welcoming us with a biting stench of decomposing flesh or in its final stage...
Time to smirk about the name of my bicycle water bottle - it's a "CAMELBAK"

The Western Sahara Region (kind of annexed by Morocco, supervised by the United Nations) begins right after the town of Tarfaya, famed for the writer St.Exupery who was stationned here as a pilot for the French army. It is said that the Tarfaya and its environment inspired him while writing the story of the little prince... The town is a friendly little fishing village with little to offer except peace and quiet. And fresh fish - battered and with a side of French Fries.

We keep on going south - happy go lucky with the constant hind wind. The coast line is very empty and beautiful. Kind of ideal for a beach holiday if one has a square kilometer of shade and a big fridge in the luggage. We keep waking up early in the mornings to make use of the colder times (BTW in the night we are wearing fleece jackets) and then try to take a rest in some shade during the hottest hours of the day. The thermometer doesn't goes beyond 40 Centigrade but the sunlight is very strong. In the late afternoon we resume cycling until an hour before sunset. We usually pitch up the tent wherever we find a nice spot. We never felt threatened or had any bad experience with wild camping here in Morocco. Very very pleasant.

Sometime somewhere I reach the 20.000km mark... technically I am half around the world already :)

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