Atar is a small city that lies a dusty ride of 5+ hours away from Mauritania’s capital of Nouakchott. This walk is down one of the main streets of Atar.
There may be as many donkey carts as cars.
Atar is a rather dusty desert town, as you might expect. The town center is sleepy much of the time, though it can get a little chaotic now and then. I don’t know if it’s a town that was once grand and bustling and is now quieter and less popular, or if it’s up and coming and the town center is a place of hope that the population will be as grand as the space one day.
Maybe we were just there at a slow time of year. However, Mauritania doesn’t have a lot of cities and there’s not really any competition. The next nearest population center is Chinguetti and it’s even sleepier. In fact, Chinguetti seems like a town that the desert would swallow in a matter of weeks if there weren’t people there to hold it back.
My presence in Atar perplexed people there, somewhat. I don’t dress like a woman, I take the lead in business matters and in this particular town, I regularly visited alone (Tim was still nursing his broken leg and it was quite a walk into town). This was not something women were expected to do there.
There was never an issue of safety, but I think it would have taken a long time for them to warm up to me. Except the kids – I made friends with a bunch of the kids.
One day, after I finished the business I had, I thought it would be great to get a slice of life video of the streets of Atar. For the reasons above, I tried to be discreet about the fact that I was filming.
So while it may be a little bumpy, or I sometimes have to take a roundabout route, you can really get a sense of what the place is like. Atar, and Mauritania are very interesting, indeed.
To learn more about our adventures in Mauritania…
Team Hazard’s Mauritania Pages:
Camel Trekking in the Sahara Desert: https://bit.ly/3pOiYLe
Finding Shipwrecks in Mauritania: https://bit.ly/32YZWI8
Monoliths of the Sahara – Ben Amera and Aisha: https://bit.ly/3nM9ZYT
Ancient Desert Library at Chinguetti: https://bit.ly/3lPh3nl
Mauritania Master Page: https://bit.ly/3kOZUJ1