Mad dash in Dakhla

· 3 min read · western-sahara money

Seeing multiple groups of camels each day now.

Four camels in Western Sahara.
Multiple camels in Western Sahara.

On the coast, there are fisherman in huts and others in shanty houses.

Fisherman houses in Western Sahara.
Fisherman houses in Western Sahara.

Dakhla is the last major city before I enter Mauritania in two days. My main task was to get Euros and stock up on food. Entering Dahkla along the long sandy beaches, there is a lot of wind surfing and it seems to be a tourist destination for locals.

Upon entering a bank, a fellow customer prompted me to place a key or bank card next to the others on the counter in front of the cashier. This indicates my position in the queue. I opted for my top box key (food storage on motorcycle), which is less important than motorcycle key or debit/credit card if it goes missing! The cashier informed me that I would need to present Dirhams cash, the receipt for that cash, and the bank card used for the with drawl. Simple, right?

Their ATM stopped working, so I walked to another bank. Withdrew 2,000 MAD, no receipt was issued, so I couldn't change this cash into Euros. I rode to another ATM, withdrew the smallest denomination, and again, no receipt. I rode around, tried about 9 ATMs, and was slowly gathering more cash that I couldn't change into Euros. I entered another bank who said the airport could change Dirhams into Euros, which was only a few miles away. Riding to the airport, I gave one last try to a new ATM—I got a receipt! I returned to the bank and collected Euros.

However, this left me with lots of Dirhams and no receipt to exchange into Euros. I tried the airport to discover it was an ATM for withdrawing Euros. I entered another bank who said it could be done but required the director who returned in 30 minutes. This was a perfect opportunity for to relax with a mint tea and chocolate croissant in the cafe opposite the bank. The sugar lumps were the size of a match box—huge! I devoured both lumps!

Mint tea in Dakhla, Western Sahara.

With a slight sugar rush, I returned to the bank, and successfully changed the remaining Euros. It was a long day frantically dashing between ATMs and banks in the heat.

I replenished food and treated myself to the fruit of the cactus plant called prickly pears. I saw lots cultivated in the Atlas mountains and for sale in Rabat, but have only just tried one today. Very refreshing and tasty! Highly recommended.

Leaving Dakhla, I felt really good having achieved my task, no matter how much of a challenge it was! I had been sweating all day, and now that I was riding, air passing over my body was cooling and soothing. Felt so good!

Made more friends with a group of goats crossing the road.

Goats crossing a road in Western Sahara.
Close up of goats crossing a road in Western Sahara.

Found a spot to camp, but it's hard to hide from the wind out here! Preparation for cooking pasta demonstrated the impossible task of securing my setup from sand. I opted for brown bread with avocado, turkey pate, and cucumber, followed by a carrot, apple, and some almonds. Much quicker, no washing up, and less sand!

Stephen Matthews next Honda CRF250L in Western Sahara.
Honda CRF250L in Western Sahara.

I was surprised to find a bird in the desert as it seemed very remote. A welcome friend though!

A small bird in Western Sahara.

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