Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Now that you know about the epic journey we had to the middle of the Sahara you may be thinking: so then what? Well, for the first few days...pretty much nothing. The biggest goal at the time was to get all of the sand out of our ears from the train ride and grasp the fact that we made it. We knew we had to find a comfortable camp with as few guests as possible. We succeeded and found ourselves quite content at Les Toiles Maures.
A view overlooking the peaceful Campement Les Toiles Maures. We were glad we didn't have to face another train or pick-up truck for at least a few days.
The manager of the camp, Cheikh, serves up a camel dinner. It may sound exotic, however camel may be one of the roughest meats on Earth. I'd say it tastes a bit like chicken, The inside of our tent became very familiar as the stifling Saharan heat kept us indoors for most of the midday hours. The tent became one part library, one part yoga studio and one part sleeping den.
The biggest highlight of Les Toiles Maures was the helpful staff. We had them pretty much to ourselves for three of our four nights there and they looked after us extremely well. From fetching water to do laundry, to riding into town for a phone card, to preparing Mauritanian tea and meals throughout our stay, they were very friendly and professional. From left to right: Ahmoud, Karim, Mustapha and Abdul.
The time eventually came for us to leave Les Toiles Maures and move deeper into the desert. Our next destination was Chinguetti, the seventh holiest city in Islam and the primary staging post for camel treks through the Mauritanian Sahara. Although it's only a two and a half hour journey up the plateau in which Chinguetti resides, it was once again a wild ride.

Our transport for the trip to Chinguetti was a Toyota Hilux, the same type of vehicle we rode with sixteen people (and a goat) a few days earlier. Although I didn't have the cargo bed to share with seven other passengers this time around, it was an interesting experience riding on top of the fruit delivery bound for Chinguetti. Rachel opted for an interior seat and got an invitation from a friendly local to visit her camels.
The ascent up the plateau was absolutely gorgeous with the midday sun blazing upon my balding top. My riding companion, Umar, decided to cover up for the ride and take a snooze. I did, however, give him a couple nudges during the ride to make sure he hadn't melted.
Upon arrival to Chinguetti we decided to stretch our legs a bit and get some exercise with the frisbee. Breaking out the frisbee never fails to attract the local youth. It's always a good way to make a few friends and teach the kids a new sport.

It didn't take long to hire a guide, a cook, a couple camels and a chemalier (or camel dude) for our trek through the desert. We went to sleep excited for our early morning departure into the Sahara.

Check back soon for details and photos from our camel trek!


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