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.
||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.
||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
|This was the fish market, just a few minutes
drive out of Nouakchott and right on
beach. It was crowded like this pretty
all the time.
||This was an abandoned ship a little ways
down the beach from the fish market.
they must just beach a ship when it
repair and leave it. While I was in
I saw another ship being beached and
crew taking all of their belongings
|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.
||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.
||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
|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.
||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.