Gabriel had told me that we would be visiting an oasis.
Whilst being awed by the mountain scenery, I did quietly wonder if such a long and sometimes tortuous
diversion was worth the effort to see, what I imagined could be, just a muddy puddle with a couple of palm trees and a few scruffy goats or camels in attendance. I should have had more faith.
My rather jaded thinking,
brought on by a long and uninspiring journey, couldn't have been further from the truth. .. the scenery was so unexpectedly beautiful, it took my breath away !!
The Terjit Oasis is a sandy area amongst palm trees
alongside a freshwater stream, nestling in a narrow gorge beneath a massive cliff face, which is covered in Maidenhead Ferns and stalactites.
Large and small family groups of
Mauritanians, beautifully dressed in their traditionally colourful clothing were sitting in the cool shade .. chatting, eating and drinking, or just snoozing on brightly coloured matting. Children were playing in the warm water pools. There was no loudness, litter or raucous behaviour and attentive stewards brought round plates of locally grown dates, tea, coffee, various soft drinks, cushions and large woven plastic mats for their customers' comfort.
Although its name in French gives the impression that the place would be full of tourists, it was a Saturday when we visited this spectacular haven of coolness and calmness and we were the only non-Mauritanians there.
Evidently, many of the more affluent members of Mauritanian society travel from as far away as Nouakchott and Nouadhibou to spend their weekends here.
The welcome we received was so warm, the dates so succulent, so many
in number and so deliciously sweet .. combined with the sugary sweetness of the soft drinks .. that we were suffering from a serious sugar overload by the time evening was approaching and we had to leave for Atar.
Despite taking thousands of photographs all over West Africa, I am still acutely aware of invading others' privacy and try not to do so, nor appear to be just another 'snap-happy tourist'.
I hope the photographs below ..
mostly taken at a distance to avoid too much intrusion into their family celebrations and simple meditational retreats .. do justice to this magical place.