Mauritania is a beautiful country, it is poor, but beautiful.
I never thought that sand could be so beautiful, so pure, so soft and in such many colors, white, yellow, brown and golden, all mixed or by themselves. Just to be able to walk outside the holy minor city of Chinguetti, which was founded 777 A.D, just walk 5 min outside it and you have entered the Sahara. The sand dunes is reaching as long as you are able to see.
Sitting there on a morning watching the sunrise over the dunes and just have the total tranquility, silence and watch the small beetles trying to conquer the dunes by crawling slowly, but sinking back in the sand, but never give up, is one amazing experience I will treasure deep inside me for the rest of my breaths.
Or the first sight of the Adrar regions mountains and plateaus in the first morning light as I was travelling on the back of the pickup truck, the breath-taking view of something so majestic as the contours of the mountains slowly gets easier and easier to see painted towards the sky on the sides of me as the sunlight slowly climbed over the ridge and shed light and unfolds the full beauty of it all.
To travel along the roads, may they be paved, dirt or just tracks in the sand, and see the nomads stand along the side the road, or watching their sheep or other animals, and have their boubou fluttering in the wind and their head covered with the cheche, is a vivid contrast to the desert.
There are so many pictures I havent been able to capture with my camera, but instead they have been captured in my head, pictures I wish I could print out and show for everyone. Pictures that have formed my mind and eyes of what the Sahara region is really about.
However, another picture that I really had a struggle with, and that I can not unfortunately erase from my head is the sight of all the plastic lying around. To try to photograph something beautiful but leave out the ugly part is not always easy. Especially when it is so widely spread as the plastic in Mauritania.
The total negligence of the Mauritanian people towards their own country by disposing the trash everywhere instead of having it collected is something that really made me sad. How they take it so naturally to just throw the bottle that once contained water, out through the window while driving, how they just open the cap of an orange juice bottle, finish it off, and just throw it on the street. This no matter if the person is an adult or a child.
To walk among the sand dunes outside Chinguetti and see a single piece of plastic that once used to be a flip-flop but now have been discarded into the sand as it most probably will disappear into the sand as the winds buries it with the moving sand, or to see the yoghurt container together with the 6 water bottle lay in the sand between 2 dunes.
To be able to see all the trash lay around fences and roads, to see the goats walk around and chew on plastic bags or other materials out of plastic that they have managed to get hold of by knocking over trash bag left in the sand by someone who don’t wanted it in their own yard or house.
To get, every time, no matter what you buy, a plastic bag that fits your purchased items. I have never seen so many different sizes of plastic bags as I did in Mauritania, how they give you the most strangest look if ou don’t want the plastic bag, and the even funnier look in case you have a plastic bag with you that you pull up and put your items in.
Why doesnt President Aziz, former military general Aziz in the coup in 2008, do something about the problem? Surely he is not blind? Or is he also let to believe that plastic will disappear by itself in the desert sand in a country that is slowly, bit by bit, being conquered and disappearing to the moving sand of Sahara? Sure, he has his political problems as the problems with the al-Qaeda in norther part of Mauritania and towards the Mali border, and also the struggle as he is not internationally recognized as the leader of Mauritania due to the coup in late 2008.
Tourism is on a decline since 2007 after the several attacks on tourists contributed to al-Qaeda, several states foreign departments forbids or strongly advice people NOT to travel to Mauritania due to the political situation and the safety, that is why the police have such a check on you as a foreigner travelling in the country, in case you should disappear within their borders.
Mauritania is twice the size of France and 75% of the country is conquered by th sand, th capital Nouakchott is also included in that figure as it is mainly is a pile of sand, a big Nomad camp that was founded in the 60s and since have been left to grow in the sand.
The main problems of the country is desertification, drought, overfishing by the European fishing vessels as the nation’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world.
But someone forgot that plastic products should be added to that list of problems as well.