Tag Archives: breakfast

A Dakhla Birthday for Mikaela…

Yesterday Mikaela celebrated her 22nd birthday. Having been reminded of the importance of birthdays in Mikaela’s family home, I knew that my well-being depended upon her day being special.

So I thought I’d begin with an English breakfast in bed. This was no easy task, and the menu choice was of course dictated by a lack of pork! The final result of my market shopping skills was fried tomatoes, eggy bread, scrambled eggs, avocado smoothie and the pièce de resistance Heinz baked beans. Not a strictly traditional menu but Mik was content to break from the normal routine of a cheese triangle smothered roundbread.

I hear you asking “where on earth did you find Heinz baked beans in Western Sahara?”. They were in fact purchased in a tiny shop in the even smaller town of Olonzac in the south of France, which had a small section for English holidaymakers. The tin then survived several thousand kilometers undetected by Mikaela in one of our panniers.

On the morning of her birthday, I snuck out early to seek a kind café owner who would let me use his kitchen (a stealth operation for those who know Mik’s light sleeping and early morning wakening). Using the fresh supplies from the market, I clumsily stuck the meal together, turning down a few potential buyers of her breakfast. I then cautiously loaded it onto the plate I had also bought in the market and woke Mikaela to the smell of beans and toast.

Sometimes the things that at home are pretty normal become much greater tasks and sweeter surprises in this case! Equally the hairbrush and nail varnish that Mik unwrapped with the excitement of a five-year old were appreciated so much more. The little, simple things that can make us smile.

So now, with a birthday behind us we are ready to leave Dakhla. As we try to make sense of my knee grumbles, we are approaching the deadline of our single-entry visa to Mauritania on the 4th of November. So it seems we’ll have to load our bikes onto another truck at least until the border where we will negotiate the generous no-man’s-land by bicycle.

The next part of the journey brings new risks that we have not had to consider before. The route we must take through Mauritania has seen a rise in kidnappings of Europeans and after seeking the advice of everyone from the FCO to security experts on the region we have taken the difficult decision not to cycle. This is really a simple case of risk outweighing benefit and whilst disappointing the timing is actually pretty good for my knee injury. Besides, we can’t deny the child within that relishes every moment of truck fun, sat high up above all the other cars honking at donkeys and camels, every cloud has a silver lining


Tan-Tan to Akhfennir

Cycling away from Tan-Tan we pedalled towards the enormous hill that almost growled in our general direction. But somehow we were in high spirits, our time with Mustapha and his family had been a perfect start to our desert journey.


We had decided to cycle as far as possible and to set up camp just before sundown. But by lunchtime we were making great progress and having covered a solid 60 kilometers we spent the afternoon heading towards Akhfennir, according to signposts only 40 km away.

However, some 40 km later we were met with a rather bleak looking checkpoint.

‘How far to Akhfennir?’, we questioned with smiling faces.

‘Another 20-25 km’.

The smiles slipped from our faces. The thing is the idea of
wildcamping never really bothered us, but when you have been cycling along blissfully imagining the cold wash and hot fried fish at end of your day, suddenly the thought of a bread/cheese triangle supper seems less desirable.

We gave each other a glance. Did we really want to cycle another 20 km? Well, whens food is at stake the answer is always yes!

The fried fish was worth every sweaty moment, freshly caught and served steaming hot we took no time in demolishing a rather over sized salty monster.

Mikaela got invited to fry the fish herself

We ate with Boujemaa, a friendly local park ranger who welcomed us to the town and offered us a place to sleep.

‘This is the best fried fish you will find here’, we we in full agreement with our generous host who had already insisted on buying us drinks and naturally pouring us a strong glass of sugary tea.

Fully fed we crashed soon after dinner, legs and bums aching after a long day in the sun. We were invited to join Boujemaa for some breakfast and set up so beautifully for our day of cycling we hit the road, with a small audience of supporters cheering us from the roadside.