Atar to Chinguetti 3

At the top of the pass we stopped at the gendarmerie checkpoint to have our passports checked. One of the officers asked if we could give a ride to a couple of Chinguetti residents who needed to get home. No problem .. they could probably tell us all about the area. The two elderly men climbed in and sat in  the back seats, offering grateful thanks in Arabic. They shared our water and biscuits and smiled, but unfortunately couldn't talk to us .. not having a word of French between them.

As we left the mountains, the road reverted  to a gravel track and ran straight down a gentle slope across an open plain which resembled a lunar landscape. The colour of the sand and rocks changed from a silvery yellow, through ochre red to a steely dark grey and as the road surface was reasonably flat and without potholes, we gradually picked up a little more speed.
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Our hitchhiker friends in the rear, who had been chatting away to each other, started to sing in a quiet chanting sort of way .. they sounded happy, but after a while when the same tune and words were repeated over and over .. Gabriel and I reckoned that probably the fastest they had ever been was on four legged transport and that perhaps they were actually praying for safe deliverance !

We dropped them off amidst their profuse expressions of smiling gratitude ( and probable relief ) when we reached the outskirts of  Chinguetti and gave them a bottle of water each as a present.

The loose gravel track headed gradually downwards, straight across the escarpment.

A lunar surface.

The red ochre colour of a raised laterite section of the road.

About an hour after leaving the gendarmerie, at last we could see Chinguetti in the distance .. its buildings silhouetted against the dunes on the edge of an enormous sea of soft golden sand.