A Travellerspoint blog

Africa’s Wildest Train Ride

The continent got some crazy train rides, but riding through the night on a cargo train meant for transporting iron ore, not passengers, compares to nothing else.

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Waiting in the Sun

Waiting in the Sun

I happily endured a few extra hours of scorching Saharan sun to get the worst seat available. The shady area around the station building was reserved for those who had been intelligent enough to buy a ticket for the one passenger carriage that makes up the rear of the train. It wasn’t like the tickets were sold out either. Or too expensive. But I was here to ride the Iron Ore Train and I wasn’t going to take the easy option out as other, more famous, travellers had done before me (Michael Palin, I’m looking at you). To travel this train, you simply jump into one of the open waggons, endure the scorching sun, the freezing night and the impossible dusty twelve-hour journey. During those twelve hours, this train will bring me from the coastal city of Nouadhibou and 400 km into the Sahara.

The Iron Ore Train

The Iron Ore Train

This train is the longest in the world, averaging2.5 km in length and maxing out at 3 km. That’s between 250 and 300 waggons. It’s also one of the heaviest when these are loaded with iron ore dust. From what I’ve been told that also makes it the dustiest train ride in the world. But initially, the dust wasn’t a problem, the sun was. The train leaves once a day; at any given time, between two in the afternoon and midnight. So once you’ve shown up at the station, it’s basically a waiting game. For this train passengers aren’t the priority, the iron dust is. I turned up about a quarter to three, with no train in sight. The first hour was spent explaining the police why I was in Mauritania. Not in a controlling manner; they were clearly bored and wanted to chat. And their office was in the share, so I was in no hurry to get out of there.

Dust!

Dust!

I’d come prepared, for the sun, the cold and the dust. My long ski underway has been surprisingly useful in Africa. I’ve used it for hiking in the jungle on previous trips and wore it for much of the mishaps in the Banc du d’Arguin. It covers me from the sun; it transports the sweat away from my body and it isn’t as hot as you might think. Come night; it will also help keeping me warm. For the dust, I’d gotten a flour sack for my backpack and I’ve practised my turban/terrorist-scarf skills for a few days now. It worked out pretty well, but still amateurish compared to the Mauritanians, who are experts at covering their faces from the dust. People will go most of the day with scarves covering their face, and at times, it almost looks like Mauritania is a country inhabited by bank robbers.

Fighting for a bench seat

Fighting for a bench seat

While waiting in the sun, I quickly made friends with a handful of locals… Well, some of them where Mauritanian and somewhere refugees from the Sahrawi camps in southwestern Algeria, who worked as seasonal workers in Mauritania’s harbours. Oh, and they probably made friends with me – not the other way around. I tried to explain to them why I wanted to ride in the carts instead of the more comfortable carriage. They didn’t understand it. Why wouldn’t I just share the room in the carriage with them? I played the tourist card, telling them I was there for the experience of riding in the empty iron ore carts – “tourists are weird”. Truth be told, not even all the people crazy enough to go to West Africa is crazy enough to do this. I, however, had been looking forward to doing this for months.

And riding in the carriage has some drawbacks to it too. Getting a seat on one of the two benches along the walls will require vigorous infighting with around 50 locals. They will all be better at it, more experienced and less merciful than me; I would most likely end up sitting, with too little legroom, on the floor. It’s going to be overcrowded and stinking hot, so I’d rather try my luck with the dust.

The train arriving

The train arriving

The train rolled up at around five p.m. in a cloud of dust that only grew larger for each passing waggon. At least they were empty going into the desert. I picked some nice-looking locals and followed them up into one of the carts. Their friends, in the meantime, were busy loading the neighbouring cart with ten goats. If the goats could do this, I could too. We settled in, in the cart’s shady side. My new companions came armed with thick jackets, blankets and a small teapot. I’d broad along my trusted travel sweater, a windbreaker and a sleeping bag. For a bit of comfort, I’d copied numerous homeless people and brought a thick piece of cardboard to sit on.

The train sets out with what is by far the most frightening sound I have ever heard. Like a building coming crashing down on top of me or a thunder rolling ever closer. Instinctively I duck down into the cart, just before the waggon receives a heavy pull, moves forward and bumps into the waggon in from of it. In the same instant, the waggon behind ours does the same. The sound is the continuous ‘clonks’ of carts hitting each other, getting closer and closer. It was the same ever time we had stopped and during those twelve hours, I never got used to it.

Killing time0

Killing time0

Once the first excitement of rolling out had settled, this train ride – like most train rides – get pretty boresome. The landscape ‘outside’ is endless desert, impressive but dull. Whenever I got up to enjoy it, the dust storm generated by 250 train waggons hits me at full force. The interesting bits of the journey are experienced inside the cart. The little teapot, somehow, produced endless amounts of tea, which were generously shared amongst everybody. The talks quickly fell on football. Did I like Barcelona or Real Madrid better (Spanish football is the only football worth anything here)? I tried to play it diplomatically, as I actually prefer Athletic Madrid to the two formers, but that wouldn’t do. I had to pick one. Then, I’m easily a Barca-man, to the great satisfaction to that half of passengers who share my conviction. The other half insisted that Danes don’t know anything about Spanish football.

Despite the languish barriers, conversation flew relatively easy and day turned to night. This is where choosing the open waggons really pays off. The desert night’s sky is unrivalled, and if you haven’t seen one, you need to head to your nearest desert right away. Just lying on my back in the open cart, enjoying the view, made time fly. Suddenly, we arrived at Choem, in pitch blackness. Until the waiting pickups turned on their blinding headlights, ready to drive us the final kilometres, further into the Sahara.

Posted by askgudmundsen 05:17 Archived in Mauritania Tagged desert train africa sahara nouadhibou mauritania wildest iron_ore choum Comments (0)

Amateur-Hour at the National Park

Or how we were saved by a Frenchman and didn’t die in the desert.

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The van!

The van!

Saying that we were ill-prepared would be an understatement. All right, we had enough water with us. But that was also it. I’d just arrived in Nouadhibou in Northern Mauritania, from my walk through No Man’s Land. In the sand-covered yard of the camping/hostel, I was going to stay in was a big green van that had been modified into a camper. Pretty cool. In the camper was a young German family; David, Antoinette and two-and-a-half-year-old Rosa. They were just about to leave for the UNESCO protected Parc National Banc du d’Arguin. I had long tried to figure out how to get there without my own wheels. So I was thrilled when I was invited with them and didn’t hesitate to accept. I had barely had time to see the room I supposedly should have occupied, let alone get any local currency (the impossible named Ouguiya), sim card or anything else. But this simply was too good of an opportunity to miss. So we set off.

Flamingos

Flamingos

Parc National Banc du d’Arguin is a cool place. It is not only a place where the Sahara runs directly into the Atlantic Ocean. It is also home to millions of birds, including thousands of flamingos and, lastly, inhabited by the isolated Imragen fishing people, who some of the year fish by letting dolphins chase fish into shallow bays where the mammals then split the spoils between them.

Rosa and my bunny

Rosa and my bunny

The van had to get its oil filter changed, giving me a chance to change some money and buy a sim card. We also bought a few baguettes. Then we were off. That said, I still felt very unprepared. That, however, was soon forgotten. These were cool guys and even little Rosa eventually began to accept me, despite my status as an intruder in the van. The toy animals that I’ve been forced to bring with me by friends from home helped immensely here (I had almost not gotten them with be when I left the van).

Second Dune We Hit...

Second Dune We Hit...

I can’t remember when I figured out that the van wasn’t a four-wheel-drive. Maybe back at the camping, maybe when we hit the first dunes. But I can remember thinking that I’d read somewhere that this park was accessible for 4x4’s only. Never mind. Keep calm and carry on. It was a powerful machine and most of the piste (off road tracks) was gravel or hard sand anyway… Alas, we got stuck in the second dune we hit. Digging the van, weighing six tonnes, out of soft sand is hard work. Often we would only get it up on the metal plates that should secure the wheel’s grip and a few metres further before we, yet again, had to dig it out. So larger dunes had to be driven one or two metres at a time if we got stuck. Getting just 20 or 30 metres like this take hours. Worse, the piste was becoming sandier.

Stuck Overnight

Stuck Overnight

Stubborn as we were, instead of giving up, we when off the piste and tried to navigate our way between the dunes on the harder sand. That is a tough job and judging when the sand is hard enough is next to impossible. Whenever we hit soft sand and did not have enough speed to get through it, we would get stuck. We didn’t count, but we probably got stuck at least a dozen times on that first day. The last one was bad too. So bad that we just had to stay there for the night, trying to dig ourselves out the next morning… I spend the evening trying to figure out where we were. The distance from the tarmac road, where we entered the park, to the coast and better piste was around 30 km – we had gotten 8 km on that first day.

Getting Out by Building a Road

Getting Out by Building a Road

We woke up to a worse situation that when we went to bed. The wind had added a few layers of extra sand to our bogged down situation. We were unmovable. While the van was too heavy and going any further in a car that wasn’t 4x4 seemed inadvisable, we actually had a few nice tools. Besides the metal plates, we’d picked up a broken tier that could also be used for grip. And we had an axe. So, twenty or so small desert trees had to give up their lives for us to get out of trouble by building ourselves a small road on the sand. Thus, we actually managed to do so, and after a long, long day, were we probably had to dig the van out twenty or so times, we actually manage to reach good piste, and shortly after that, to reach the coast. There weren't any facilities in the first village we arrived in, but they pointed us further down the coast were one of the park’s larger settlements, Iwik, was located. Unfortunately, my German companions weren’t prepared to pay for parking their van overnight within the village. (For the meagre sum of 5.5€ per person). We instead found a spot too far from the village for me to explore it. To my big frustration. However, I was there on their invitation, so it didn’t feel right to make a big fuzz about it.

Imragen Village of Ten-Alloul

Imragen Village of Ten-Alloul

Waking up to the sound of the waves, was brilliant. An hour’s drive further down the coast, we came across a flock of hundreds of flamingos and figured it would be a good place for a pancake breakfast. Everybody was fairly tired after a day of exhausting digging the van out yesterday, but the pancakes wasn’t a matter of spoiling ourselves. Having run out of bread, that was what we could make for breakfast.
Past another small fishing village we once again hit some big dunes. It was either going back or charging through. The way back wasn’t attractive giving all of yesterday’s trouble. However, neither was battling the dunes. We eventually choice the latter, and sure, we got bogged down good. It took nearly three hours and most of our energy to get us out, only to discover that the sea had washed away the piste just a few hundred metres past the last dune. Mud is far worse than soft sand with a heavy vehicle, so we didn’t have a choice. We had to go all the way back. Not just across the dunes, but – probably – to where we entered the park. There wasn’t really anything to do about it, we all knew it, we would get stuck again in those same dunes we’d just gotten through. What really got us down, though, was that we got stuck even quicker than expected. We were all too exhausted and demotivated at this point to start another four hours of hard work. I instead opted to walk to the village we’d passed five kilometres further up the road and recruit some local help. Getting there I was greeted with tea by a village elder and for a second thought about hanging around for an hour to see the village. But, I was on a mission. Besides, the locals knew exactly why I had walked in – it hadn’t been the first time a tourist had done that.

Local Imragen Fishing Boat

Local Imragen Fishing Boat

There even were a standard price: the equivalent of 55€ would give us four local guys and one shovel. They did have a pick-up truck, but that was too old and had too little fuel to do any good. No matter, it took the four guys just forty minutes to get us out of the dunes and back to the village. Before we left their also showed us the “la bon piste” on our map. It was almost the same way we’d gotten to the coast. However, this time, we knew where we were going and only got stuck in the sand a couple of occasions. Thus, we managed to get within 10 km of the tar road at the edge of the National Park before it really went wrong. David, tired from three tough days, realising that food and fuel was now at a minimum (we didn’t have lunch that day), and impatient to get back to the road charged uphill at a dune clearly too long, too steep and too soft. A hundred metres in we stuck. Too far in to back up, to much in the middle to get to the hard sand on the side of the dune. I would take hours, maybe a whole day, to get us out of this. We ate dinner there. The last food we had. In the dusk, I went a few kilometres out of the way to find a decent way to the dune and back onto the piste. Eventually falling asleep dreading for the mornings work.

Deadly desert

Deadly desert

Rice crackers with butter. That was breakfast. Nothing else was left. Not a very energising start on the day. As we began digging the van out, slowly turning it towards the harder sand on a downhill slope to the left, it was hard to see how this would not take up the entire day. At least, we still had plenty of water, but that was it. The red lamp indicting ‘low on gas’ was blinking fiercely, and we were beginning to wonder if we would get out. In one of the breaks, I’d started looking at how far it would be to the road if we’d have to walk for help and I noted down our GPS coordinates. But that would have to wait. The most foolish thing to do would be to begin a walk for help just before the midday heath would hit. If you have to walk the desert, do so in the early morning and the evening. In general, I tried to be cheerful and positive. I told stories about how I had managed to run out of food, alone on a four-day hike on Madagascar and how easily it would be to survive this time around. Though, I couldn’t vouch for their van. At the time if felt a bit like I was talking BS…

Rescued

Rescued

Luckily, we were still on the piste. That meant the hope of another car coming by – a proper 4x4 – was not out of the question. And like on Madagascar, were I was saved by a guy passing by, that too happened here. A Frenchman in a nice, new and powerful Toyota just happened to pass by around 11 o’clock asking us, relatively casual, if “we needed help getting out?”. Yes, please! Even with his car, it still took an hour and a half to get us out of the dune. After that, even though he guided us around the worst of the sandy bits, we still got stuck a handful of times – but Françies was there to drag us out each time and that made all the difference! Late in the afternoon we finally spotted the road. We’d made it! Thanks to a Frenchman in a Toyota. With no food left, basically no fuel and certainly not of energy left. We stopped at a nearby gas station to refuel, both the cars and us. Alcohol is forbidden in Mauritania, so I had to settle for buying a round of cold Coca Colas. However, they felt just as good as a cold beer would have done!
David, Antoinette and Rosa, as well of Françies were all going south, while I was going back north. So they left me at the gas station for my next struggle. Hitching a ride in the Saharan sun. Compared to digging out the van numerous times a day, this was a breeze, and less than an hour later I could fall asleep in an air conditioned minibus. The bliss!

Posted by askgudmundsen 10:57 Archived in Mauritania Tagged desert travel dead national_park camper deadly nouadhibou mauritania parc_national banc_darguin iwik imragen Comments (0)

Crossing Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland

It has been described as "one of the world’s most dangerous border crossings." I figured it would be an interesting 45-minute stroll.

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Leaving Western Sahara

Leaving Western Sahara

There are plenty of exaggerations and wild rumours in travelling stories. Admittedly, I don’t hold back telling you about any credible danger I might face. That’s, however, nothing compared to the bad reputation that the border crossing between Western Sahara and Mauritania has amongst travellers in this corners of the world. The official name of ‘No Man’s Land’ just add to the mythical stories. While a German traveller was tragically killed in 2007 and another seriously injured when their car hit a landmine, the dangers of the border crossing do not merit the stories in my opinion. I’m not one to talk ill of the dead, but only the careless and the ill-prepared have anything to fear from this hopeless corner of the planet...

Did these blow up?

Did these blow up?

I’ve always preferred to walk across border crossings. Many borders are determined by rivers, mountain ranges or high walls. Moving across these borders at a walking pace gives me time to feel and realise the transition from one country to another – and often from one culture, one languish and one mindset to another. No Man’s Land might just be one of the wildest such passages I’ve ever done. The four kilometres is not just a walk across the Sahara Desert along a unpaved desert track; it’s also a walk through what is, essentially, a good guess as to what the post-apocalypse will look like. It’s a scenery that I’ve never come across before during my travels – and for me, places that don't remind me of anywhere else rare. These are Gold.

Car Wrecks of No Man's Land

Car Wrecks of No Man's Land

Thousands of cars, television and other rubbish litter the desert here. It’s as if civilisation had been destroyed from one day to the next and the desert had taken over. Add to this the claimed danger to your life from those tens of thousands of landmines. Scam artists warmed me as I began my walk. "It’s dangerous," they told me. "There are mines." Some even yelled "BOOM!!" after me. But trust me on this one. It’s a scam, nothing more. Sure, a few of the car looked like they’d been blown up, but most had been dumped here for one reason or another. But these tracks are well worn and even though it, at times, can be difficult to figure out which track that is the most direct, all lead between those same two border posts. Stick to the tracks, and there’s no danger what-so-ever.

Stay on the.. road...

Stay on the.. road...

Though it is still very, very cool to brave this walk alone if you ask me… It can surely be turned into a good story. But for once, I am not in a bragging mood.

What shouldn’t be done, is what the Germans did. They drove off the tracks. Not just a little. A few kilometres off the tracks. Either they didn’t know about the mines or they didn’t care. Regardless, their fates should easily have been different – something that’s only making their story even more tragic.

Posted by askgudmundsen 05:11 Archived in Western Sahara Tagged desert travel cars border_crossing border mines dangerous landmines danger mauritania western_sahara no_mans_land Comments (0)

The Last Colony – Travelling West Sahara

It was just past four a.m. as I walked out of the bus station. The police car slowly followed. It kept shadowing me as I walked down the road, maintaining a distance of 400 metres or so. I, purposefully, made it easy for it to follow me.

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Western Sahara on the map

Western Sahara on the map

You might have seen it on the news. On one of those world maps where countries are marked in different colours according to their performance in something. If you’d noticed that weird gray ‘no-data-available’ area in the upper left corner of Africa, you’ve noticed Western Sahara.
The “disputed territory” has had this ‘gray status’ since 1975 when the Spanish left their last colony in Africa. They left so completely that they even duck up the bodies from their cemeteries to re-buried them in Spain. The term ‘disputed’ is diplomatic lingo for “someone is not following international law” - in this case, that ‘someone’ is Morocco. For non-diplomats, most of Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco. The long story short is that the Spanish let Morocco and Mauritania “have” the territory when they left. This against the direct will of the local population, the Sahrawis, who according to the United Nation’s Charter had a right to self-determination as a colonised people. They still have this right, now just under Moroccan rule, not Spanish. Hence, Western Sahara has been named the Last Colony of Africa.

The so-called border post

The so-called border post

Spectacularly, back in 1975 Morocco had 500.000 unarmed civilians march into the territory in what is known as ‘the Green March,' claiming it in a glamorous way as Moroccan. The army had moved in six days earlier. Mauritania eventually had enough of the local population’s resistance and left. Morocco swiftly moved into that territory too. And the reason for all is? Natural resources. (What else?). Western Sahara is home to the world’s biggest reserve of phosphate, and the waters off the coast a rich – making the fishing rights here big business. A ceasefire eventually put an end to the fighting in 1991. Since then, Morocco has occupied around 80 per cent of the territory. The 20 percent left to the local population is eventually nothing but sand, with no natural resources. Hence, about half of the Sahrawi population currently live in exile in refugee camps in Algeria.

Plenty of road blocks

Plenty of road blocks

This conflict is largely unknown to the wider world. Primarily because no powerful state cares about this easily forgettable corner of Africa.

Travelling here is distinctly different from travelling in Morocco. I’ve had both civilians and police instruct me not to take photos. At all. Of anything. One local Sahrawi, who befriended me, wanted his picture taken and we had to drive out of town for no one to see us. Both police and military presence are massive, and there are at least a couple of military bases in each of the towns I’ve visited.

Let's call him Riad

Let's call him Riad

Entering and exiting any town the buses stop at a police checkpoint and everybody will have their ID’s checked. As a foreigner, the Moroccan occupational force fear that I’m a journalists or human rights activist, who’s only mission is to expose all the violations happening towards the Sahrawis (more on that here and here). My details were vigorously noted at each checkpoint, and at my final destination for the day are the local police warned about my arrival. When I arrived from Morocco to Smara very early in the morning, the local police was waiting for me at the bus station. Just sitting, casually in their car. After leaving the bus station, the police car slowly followed around 400 metres behind me. The last thing I wanted was any trouble, so I made it easy for them. Not turning too many corners in a row while looking for a hotel. The first two I tried were full. After this, the officers clearly got tiered of following me around at 4:30 in the morning. They drove up to me, asked if I was looking for a hotel and the took me to “the best” (at 3€ per night it clearly wasn’t). Being under surveillance has its benefits too.

Local football boys

Local football boys

Smara isn’t visited as often by foreigners as it is inland. It’s also closer to the front line between the Moroccan army and the local rebels. So besides an alert police force, there’s also plenty of secret agents making sure that none of the locals I spoke with would tell me anything about the occupation or any mistreatment going on. This explains why my new friend was so weary of having his picture taken. Luckily, the agents are rather easy to spot with their sunglasses and leather jackets. I stayed out of too much trouble, and they stayed out of my way, though one was spectating me playing football with some local kids in Smara. Those kids would probably have gotten a visit from the police one of these days...

Posted by askgudmundsen 12:46 Archived in Western Sahara Tagged travel security morocco west_africa conflict western_sahara polisario sahrawis smara dakhla Comments (0)

What do Travellers do all Day?

Going to Rome or Marrakesh figuring out what to do is pretty easy. It usually goes like this: Sightseeing at day, a nice meal in the evening before drinking the night away. But what does one do in Western Sahara?

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Welcome to Western Sahara

Welcome to Western Sahara

I’ve seen this question asked multiple times. In novels, on television and online. It has always been kind of rhetorical. It is often answered with “seeing the world,” which is both inadequate and a cliché. Now that I’m here in Western Sahara, where typical pastimes such as sights, good food and alcohol are non-excising, I figured I might try to give a decent answer to what travellers do all day.
Generally, it’s possible to divide my travelling time into five categories: planning, actually moving from a to b, killing time, meeting people, and meta-travel (blogging, editing pictures, etc.).

Planning

Travel planning

Travel planning

Travel planning distinguishes itself from preparing for a vacation. It’s much more low-tech. Hostels don't exist in Western Sahara and those five hotels with online booking is way, way out of my price range. Planning is done on the ground and is more a matter of improvising. Having arrived somewhere, the first thing I need to do is to find a place to sleep and to offload my backpack. I usually head to the primary market – these are more often entire neighbourhoods than actually makeshifts markets. This is where the cheap hotels tend to be located. It usually takes a bit of shopping around to find one that isn’t full, cheap and clean. Leaving any destination also requires some preparation. Hotel staff can sometimes assist with departure times, but most often it’s necessary to head to the bus or train station itself. Booking ahead requires an extra trip to the station, but can be necessary if there're limited options to my next destination. The alternative, to just show up before departure. Once the ticket is secured it’s a waiting game as transportation is always delayed. Then there’s the ‘I need to get a new pair of socks or ‘my headphones broke’ shopping that takes ages because it includes figuring out a decent price, quality and the fact that I have no idea about where the electronic stores are. This quickly takes a couple of hours every day.

Moving between destinations

Standard Western Sahara Road

Standard Western Sahara Road

Then there’s the process of travelling itself, that is, moving from a to b. Distances are wast in Western Sahara; neighbouring towns are – at least – a three-hour bus ride away. (This is a country larger than the UK with only half a million inhabitants). However, arriving at a new, unknown destination is one of the joys of travelling. So is being on the move. You sort of has to like this bit. At least if you don’t want to have a miserable time on your travels. Yes, the landscape outside the window has been impressive, but dull dessert for the past three hours, but I’m moving. That feeling of progress is after all the essence of travelling. Though the rally-like driving down here makes it a rather nerve-rigging feeling too. On days where I’m moving between places, this takes up no less than three hours of the day. It can easily take up an entire day if waiting times are long or if it’s an eight-hour trip. Don’t even get me started on those 20 or 36-hour rides. Luckily, those are rare and yet to come.

Killing time

Weirdest. Sculpture. Ever.

Weirdest. Sculpture. Ever.

A sort of sightseeing is possible in Western Sahara, but sights are of a different kind. You might have learned about a few tings from fellow travellers or the guidebook. A lighthouse, a market or whatever. Those are usually crossed off the bucket list rather quickly. From there on it’s a search for new interesting tings to do. It usually takes a few walks around town, but once in a while, you strike gold. I’ve come across the weirdest statue I’ve ever seen, an idyllic harbour and a girls football match with all female spectators at the local stadium. When nothing comes up, my usual retreat is the tea-houses, where numerous men are hanging out killing time on their own. I join them. Smartphones and Wi-Fi reached Africa years ago, so many places give me time to catch up on the world, read (I’m becoming a big The Guardian reader) or have a chat with friends back home. This is not a vacation and time is not limited, so I can enjoy that ‘making the most of it’ does not require a constant rush. These breaks also give me a chance to check in with other travellers online. Is there’s something I’ve missed in town? The best gems are often hidden, and I just might need help finding them. If there nothing online, I’m have the options between another walk around town or another cup of tea. If I’m not moving between destinations, this can take up the entire day and no less than a couple of hours are spent in this fashion.

Meeting people

Meeting the locals

Meeting the locals

These are the spontaneous moments that for most travellers make it all worthwhile. Especially if they don’t like that whole moving from a to b part. These meetings are always spontaneous and once they’ve happened you simply just have to push everything else aside to enjoy it. Most travellers are more concerned with meeting the world than seeing it. These encounters are not solely a matter of the locals being friendly. I can help them along. A general greeting when I enter a café. By offering the person next to me on the bus some of my snacks. Or engaging locals with simple questions – like yesterday when a question of when the boats were coming in resulted in a tour of the harbour and tea with the workers there. These are the meetings that can lead to invitations to local homes, new friends and a better understanding of the country. I just hope they happen as often as possible.

Meta-travelling

Blogging on the road

Blogging on the road

Any travel blogger will tell you the same. Travel blogging is a lot of work. Two hours every day is a low estimate. Writing drafts, dismissing drafts, editing and proof-reading – all takes time. So does photo editing (a painstakingly lot of time) and uploading them. And I’m not even spending the time, that I probably should, on promising my blog around the web. For those living off their travels it’s a full-time job – they just always get to decide where their office is. I’m just happy that alcohol is so hard to come by. That leaves plenty of lonely nights to meta-travel...

Posted by askgudmundsen 15:44 Archived in Western Sahara Tagged travel planning sighseeing blogging how_to what_do_travellers_do meeting_locals western_sahara Comments (0)

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