25th April – 1st May (Fran’s travels in Turkmenistan and Mauritania)

This Week: Fran’s travels in Turkmenistan and Mauritania. More desert fun in two different countries with a surprise fire to end off the week.

UPDATE: This is my last full weeks worth of travel dates. From next week I will only place one date up each Sunday. Main content has been removed to leave new content for when book published in early 2023. Keep following for updates on when the book will be available.

25th April (2016) Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

I finally arrived at my destination of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan at just after 2 a.m. local time.

View of Government buildings from my hotel balcony by day
Ashgabat by night in Fran's travels in Turkmenistan and Morocco
The view by night

26th April (2016) Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

We drove out to a fortress at Old Nisa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Old Nisa
Surrounding countryside

We ate at the Turkmenistan version of Subway.

Subtime rather than Subway

My favourite building was the indoor Ferris wheel.

They make everything out of sparkling white marble with gleaming gold embellishments. The guide book describes it as a mix of Las Vegas and North Korea. 

I noted in my diary that it was 32 degrees today. I was also keeping note of what I had to drink throughout the day as a way of monitoring my hydration in the hot climes. Between juice at breakfast, Sprite with dinner and water, I drank a total of just under three litres.

27th April (1998) Crossing Mauritania

A lot of waiting around trying to sort everything out after Lucy, and two other vehicles were broken into overnight and belongings stolen.  

When we left we were three cars sharing one guide to lead us through the desert to Nouakchott. The Red Team, us in Lucy, the Orange Team, the Stumpy crew, and we had a third car join the Green Team. The Green Team comprised two French guys in a caravan and truck mash-up, called Florent and Tristan. Their truck cab was green, thus the Green Team. Three cars playing Wacky Races in the desert.

Lucy made it through the day but was overheating again.

Orange Team, Stumpy and Red Team, Lucy

28th April (1998) Crossing Mauritania

6.12 p.m. Green Team gone missing

6.26 p.m. On the way to join the others following their tracks after Keith spotted them from the roof

6.30 p.m. All together. The Green Team were helping out another vehicle who was stuck. They told us not to get too close as sand very soft. Emma and I stayed in the car. Keith, Florent and Joe gone to help.

6.34 p.m. Green Team beside us. Stumpy on the other side. We’re off again.

29th April (1998) Crossing Mauritania

The Green Team between ocean and dunes. Florent out the window, Keith in the middle, Tristan driving.

30th April (1998) To Nouakchott, Mauritania

7.23 a.m. Just had to push start the Green Team again.

7.25 a.m. We are off. We are literally driving a metre out of the edge of the water on the beach. It’s great. As close as you can get to riding a horse on the beach without a horse.

Just saw a flock of pink flamingoes – amazing colour.

A shadow photo of Sarah and Anna on the roof as we drive on the beach
Shipwreck with a Titanic pose
Group photo on the shipwreck with Lucy and Stumpy

Even though it was a ship and had the pointed hull and bow, it was not scary. So I have learnt shipwrecks were ok. It was the black hulls that scared and scare, the bejeezers out of me.

1st May (2016) Darvaza, Turkmenistan

The hole

Sometimes it is called the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell. Its official name is the Darvaza Crater. This site will not exist in the future.

Our campsite and camp crew

I was very slack with my diary today. Hopefully, I drank more than I had documented, as only scraped in with 1.4 litres. That’s not enough in the desert, especially whilst literally playing with fire. 

Darvaza crater Fran's travels in Turkmenistan and Mauritania
The Gates to Hell in their full night time glory

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