MAURITANIA

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I was in Mauritania on a UNHCR mission, Kenn Borek Air was providing the aircraft and aircrew for transporting personnel, mainly form different Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's), from the capital of Nouakchott to Bassikinou. Bassikinou is a small village southwest of Nema and was the closest village to the refugee camp.

map of Mauritania

T1040 in Plymouth I took this picture in Plymouth, England which was one of the stops we made on the ferry flight to get the aircraft to Mauritania.

The picture above shows the facilities we worked out of in Nouakchott, pretty spartan. I stored the spare parts and equipment in the UN container in the background, the Lada was our vehicle (not the most reliable transportation). It got pretty warm in the open like this so any work that had to be done we tried to do either early in the morning or late in the day. Nouakchott Airport

relaxing at the beach Fortunately we didn't have to work to hard. We found the beach to be one of the spots we could go to relax. As this country is definitely not a tourist destination the beaches are pretty much empty all the time, occasionally we would see others there on the weekend.

This was the fish market, just a few minutes drive out of Nouakchott and right on the beach. It was crowded like this pretty much all the time. fishmarket near Nouakchott

beached ship This was an abandoned ship a little ways down the beach from the fish market. I think they must just beach a ship when it is beyond repair and leave it. While I was in Mauritania I saw another ship being beached and the crew taking all of their belongings off.

Before we flew our first trip to Bassikinou the UN wanted us to look at the airstrip there. We flew to Nema, which was the closest location with a paved airport, and the UN provided transportation from there. It was a lot of hours driving with terrain like you see pictured. I couldn't believe that roads like this even showed up on maps, just looked like tracks across the desert. road to nowhere

desert people Even in the remote desert we would occasionally run across people.

This turned out to be a wedding party. They were taking the bride (on the camel on the left) to the village of her new husband. wedding party

desert water well We saw a few wells like this on our drive across the desert. They were deep so they used the donkey to pull the buckets of water up.

And here is the aircraft at the Bassikinou "airport". It amounted to a 2300 ft (700 m) flat piece of sand. The markers were 12 in (30 cm) square cement pieces that were about 2 in (5 cm) high. When we first started flying here the paint on them had been worn away and the colour closely matched the sand. This made it difficult to find the runway, even once you knew where it should be. We had the UN paint the markers white and that helped a bit. T1040 in Bassikinou

refueling at Bassikinou This is another shot at the airstrip after the rainy season started. Since this area is at the very southern edge of the Sahara Desert it is normally very dry but during the rainy season it does get a little rain and the grass starts to grow. Obviously there was no place to buy fuel here so we bought it Nouakchott and had it trucked in (which took several days) and stored it at the UN headquarters in Bassikinou. When we flew in the UN would load u[p some drums for us in one of their trucks and bring it out to the airstrip so we could refuel, which we are doing in this picture.

During the rainy season some of the low lying areas fill with water and the local kids play around in it. They aren't very good swimmers as they don't get much practice but they have a lot of fun. Scott Brownlee is also in the picture, he and I took the aircraft over and did the first three months of the contract there. children in Bassikinou


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