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Change of plans

After nights waking up in a cold sweat dreaming that I didn’t have a head, and discussion with other travelers on forums, we have decided to change our wedding destination.  Mali may be safe to travel by the time we leave but it’s no fun planning a wedding if you don’t know that you can even make it there (well, it’s no fun planning a wedding, period).  I don’t believe things happen for a reason, things just happen, but I do think you can turn almost anything into a fun adventure (like going to Whole Foods).  So now we have an even better plan.  Travel down through Europe, Morocco, Western Sahara, and into Mauritania (government warning says there are landmines on one side of the Western Sahara/Mauritania border so we’ve got a 50% chance of getting it right).  Travel across the Sahara to a village called Ouadane, population 800, and get married there.

Traversing forums, Rick came across a cool photographer who had some photos of a traditional wedding he had taken there, and it looked really colorful and cheerful.  He contacted the man, who said he uses a young guide when he is there to get to some of the more difficult places. He gave us the name of the guy, Alioune, and we’ve contacted him and asked him if he could help us plan our wedding (we haven’t heard back yet but hopefully we will).  So at least if none of you guys make it there, we can invite the rest of the village.

Mitchell’s photographs and description of Mauritania are amazing.  I hope he doesn’t mind me putting a link to his site.

Speaking of forums, everyone has been SO helpful.  Even Chris Scott, author of several books about overlanding in the Sahara responded several times to Rick’s questions.

Hi Rick, the route from Tidjikja to Nema (via Tichit) is long and remote, but maybe you know that already.  If you drop in on Nema from Oualata they may be surprised to see you; it’s possible that coming along the road that far eastern corner of RIM would be still closed to tourists. As for the direct route on to Tim from Nema, never done that myself but it was always dodgy for tourists even in the good years and I think would still be a risk despite the successes of Operation Serval over the last year. I doubt anyone’s been that way since those posts you read. Unless you hear otherwise and things improve, or know what you’re taking on, better to get your desert driving done by the time you get to Tidjikja. Or maybe this recent Aouker post may interest you.


Other great people, Enzo from put us in touch with Randall who was selling a vehicle (unfortunately registered in South Africa), who put us in touch with Nate and Lee from New York who had done a charity race from Budapest to Bamako (that didn’t end up there because of the unrest).  They were actually in Bamoko (capital of Mali) when the coup went down!  They spoke to us for an hour on the phone, were incredibly helpful, and cheered us right up, because we’d been a bit down with all the warnings and what-not.  We got in touch with a mechanic, Julian, from England who was mentioned all over the forums, who provided tons of useful advice and went and inspected a vehicle for us (that turned out to be a no-go).  From Enzo’s site we also got in touch with Rob from Ireland who had just returned from a trip from Libya to South Africa with his girlfriend Marcella, and who is selling the Land Cruiser he used for that. He also owns a Toyota dealership if you ever need to buy a car in Ireland.  Their blog ( ) is incredible.  Check out the “Eye for an Eye” 2/16/2011 post from  Libya and the ensuing comments, which had us rolling on the floor with laughter, and “Held captive in Dar Es Salaam” which was really scary.  Everything we learn and read makes us both wary and excited.


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