Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Tuesday April 24 Dakhla, Western Sahara Dakhla is a small tidy city, that has become a popular destination for kite surfers, as it tends to be windy all the time, and has large stretches of beach. This morning there were 48 4 wheel drive vehicles lined up on the pier to take us out into the desert. The buildings all are sand colored and have flat roofs, probably to catch rain, although I gather that that is a rare event. We drive out of town on a fairly good road for about 45 minutes, and then turn off the road onto a track into the desert. Unlike Namibia, there are no large dunes here. Vegetation is very sparse, there are lots of rocks, and many small hills. Shortly we arrive at our destination, a small collection of tents by the shore. A couple of the tents are set up for lunch, there is a bar, and a tent for shopping! We take a short hike before lunch with Tom, who is a terrific naturalist. He takes us to an area where there are fossil castings of shrimp burrows. A little further along is evidence of early hominids living there. There are many stones that have been knapped or flaked. David picks up what looks like it might have been a hand ax. Because of the wind and the sand almost everything has been scoured. Returning to the lunch tent, the white tablecloths have a fine layer of dust and sand. The only clear spots are under our plates and wine glasses. In front of the lunch tents is a mat where several Bedouin women are playing instruments, singing and dancing. The most ingenious Instrument is a large metal bowl turned upside down, and struck with 2 shot glasses, like a drum! Lunch is North African fare, a large communal salad, with eggplant, peas, beans and lettuce, followed by cous cous, and a lamb dish. Dessert is fresh fruit. After lunch we load uP and head back for the ship, taking off for Teneriffe, Canary Island. Tonight I have been invited to a chart room dinner by one of the naturalist staff. Each guest gets invited twice to chart room dinners. The first one that I attended was near the beginning of the voyage.