A couple of years ago the TWBR route began to take shape. When first planning a route for a grand voyage like this, the sky is the limit. Countries that you never even knew existed become possibilities; geography becomes a daily topic of conversation. It is quite interesting just how large some countries are that probably 90% of people do not know exist. Mauritania is one of those places. With a population of only 3 million people in just over 1 million square kilometers, this country is a giant desert with large expanses containing very little signs of life. For most of us the Sahara desert is something that we read about in books or hear about in romantic adventure stories while we are growing up.
The last week or so, however, the Sahara desert is the place that we have been calling home and although signs of life are few and far between, they are quite intense when you do find them. A year ago Mauritania was a country that we did not even know how pronounce and was a place that we decided we would not be traveling through. Since our original route became basically impossible as Libya would not issue us visas and Algeria’s borders are closed, Mauritania has officially become our second country in Africa and we could not be more pleased with the new route. The first day we spent here is like no other day on the trip so far. We are staying a town called Nouadhibou, and here there is a ship graveyard with well over 40-50 ships that fill the coastline. Ranging in size from small dinghies to giant industrial ships, the coast has a post apocalyptic feel like something really bad has happened here. The beach is full of all kinds of different trash ranging from the standard plastic bags to pieces of heavy machinery.
The truth, as we have been told, is that the harbor master over the last handful of decades allowed people to decommission their boats for free here. The “decommissioning” process here is to simply leave the boats on the shoreline to rot. Certainly the large amounts of industrial trash and toxins that are released from these boats are not good for the environment, but the spectacle they leave behind is something that all of us will never forget.
Mines are all along the road on the way here.
Some people have taken the trash on as a home.
It is hard to understand how this ended up the way it did.
I heart goggles and turbans