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Thursday, 11 October 2007

To the Edge of Nowhere: Tichit, Mauritania - Page 2

Written by Max Hunter
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There is nothing better than disappearing to some insane, off the beaten path place that nobody in their right mind would go to, and Tichit delivered on all accounts.

Finally, the visa issues were cleared up, and we set off for the Sahara on the fortuitous day of Friday, July 13.  Two days later, after several hash breaks and a detour to visit the crocodiles at Matmata, we made the 650km to Tidjikja, where the highway ended and the only way forward was through the sand seas of the Sahara.Max Hunter, To the Edge of Nowhere, Tichit, Mauritania, Nouakchott, Auberge Sahara, travel sahara, Dakar Rally, Moors mauritania, travel Mauritania

We purchased our final supplies, and I topped off the bike with jerrycan petrol, which was bright orange from sitting so long – it had actually leeched the color right out of the plastic container. Purveyors cut the fuel with cheaper liquids out there to make more money – judging by the smell, I figured my bike would be drinking ninety percent petrol and ten percent urine for the next two days.

None of us, save the Spanish guy, had much experience in the Sahara.  By not much, I mean basically none.  And the Spaniard's last trip had ended with a friend being medically evacuated with a leg fracture after falling off the roof of a moving truck.  So predictably, five minutes into the 200km piste towards Tichit we had trouble. Max Hunter, To the Edge of Nowhere, Tichit, Mauritania, Nouakchott, Auberge Sahara, travel sahara, Dakar Rally, Moors mauritania, travel MauritaniaThe Land Cruiser hit soft sand and sunk like a rock nearly to the chassis.  After trying to dig out for thirty minutes in 45 degree heat, the Spaniards produced a balloon they had purchased on the internet, the type that is inflated by the exhaust pipe to lift the truck off the ground so the tires can be dug out or sand ladders placed underneath.

It worked perfectly for the first five minutes.  So good in fact, that I wanted to film, but I had left the camera in the Land Rover.  I went over to get the camera, and while I stood in front of this over-inflated balloon, which rested precariously close to the hot exhaust pipe, I thought how ruined my day would be if that thing blew.

Of course, it did blow in a magnificent explosion that sent the air hose into my left leg and the two-ton Land Cruiser into my face, knocking me back onto the ground with a busted nose and forehead. Blood streamed down into my eyes as my companions dragged me away half dazed, checking to see if my leg was still in one piece.  So began the first day on the piste.Max Hunter, To the Edge of Nowhere, Tichit, Mauritania, Nouakchott, Auberge Sahara, travel sahara, Dakar Rally, Moors mauritania, travel Mauritania

An hour later, I was back on the bike.  It was rough going at times, with a mix of deep sandy ruts, dunes, and unmarked sections where the shifting sands of the Sahara had obscured any signs of recent traffic.  We had GPS, but half the party was too stoned to care anyway.  We pressed on.

That first night in the desert was nothing short of magical.  The sky out there was so clear we could see satellites traversing the heavens.  I was watching them and lying on the ground near my bike when one of the Spaniards tossed a rope my way. Sometime, somewhere he had heard that if you put a rope around you at night it would keep away scorpions.  Sure I would test it. The Israeli didn’t have a rope, so the next day if he was dead, we'd know it had worked.

(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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