We were lost in the desert, dunes stretching in all directions and not a human in sight. We were completely lost, the way-point said we were already in Chinguetti but there was no city anywhere near us. And then we ran out of fuel.
I hitch-hiked with an Englishman from Atar to the culture festival in Ouadane, and from there through the dunes of Sahara to Chinguetti. We had company with four Germans and the three cars had a GPS each. We put the way-points, the last one for Chinguetti, and after a camp in the desert outside Ouadane we started driving.
The desert is beautiful. Golden sand turning white, black, red and brown as we drive. Camels grazing, here and there big herds with goats coming from nowhere. Small villages in the middle of all sand, and as we stopped the women and children came up to us, sat down on the ground and opened up their store. Necklaces, rings and camel-dolls. “Salaam Alaikum, no shokram. Inshallah” (Peace be with you, no thanks. If it’s God’s will) we say, they smile and we smile back.
Our cars got stuck over and over again in the dunes. At first we followed tracks of other cars, but after the first village we lost the tracks. We trusted the GPS:s completely and drove past dune after dune of this fantastic sand. “We’re gonna run out of fuel soon,” M said (Yes, it’s the second M I’m hitch-hiking with), “and they’re also.” he pointed at the white truck. And the people in the red one said they’re low also. We still had a long way to go to Chinguetti, but luckily we had spare tanks with diesel. But you know, going dry with a diesel is never good. And that’s what happened to the white truck. But everything solves, we put more diesel in from our spare tanks and somehow it all worked out fine.
We were completely lost in the desert, the way-point said we were already in Chinguetti but there was no city to be found. The cars got stuck one after another, we hadn’t seen any tracks in the sand for many hours and as we looked around us we realized we were trapped among the dunes. The sun was setting and darkness surrounded us. A dead donkey lay in the sand and the stunk crept into our noses. What to do? We set up a camp and left the troubles for the next morning.
Now, it wasn’t as bad as it first seemed. We looked through some books and found other way points to the city and it was only 8 kilometres away. But, the dunes were still in our way. We gathered strength, had a walk to check the ground and gave it a try. First we got stuck. Deep. Really deep in the sand and we got a shovel and started digging. Next the red truck got stuck, we dug them out again. And, suddenly, there were houses. And a man running down a dune towards us. He wanted a hitch and went with us to Chinguetti. It was a bouncy ride and we went flying at one point, but we had finally reached the desert highway and ten minutes later we entered the ancient and legendary city. Chinguetti.
There were auberges around every corner, but no tourists were to be found. We had a coffee and some cakes before driving back to Atar, picked up another hitch-hiker who’s car had broke down. Now, back at Bab Sahara, resting, enjoying, waiting for the next adventure.