Saturday, we went to the beach because EVERY Saturday we go to the beach. My husband is stubborn dedicated like that.

Lots of people normally join us, but because we’re the faithful ones, we provide the tent so people have shade, or a shelter from wind and blowing sand, or a landmark to view when the current pulls you to the south, so you can easily see how far you’ll have to walk to get back to your friends.

It’s our own tent, bought a few months after our arrival. Donn went down to the tent market where he sat with the tent ladies in the shadow of the Moroccan mosque, drinking tea and haggling over prices. Mauritanian tents are typically 2 or 3 layers thick; the outside is thick white canvas and the inside is patterned with bright scraps of fabric. I think they use rags, which would explain why part of our tent has red dinosaurs—technically not traditional, but colourful nonetheless.

Local tents have a large central wooden pole with a pointed end, and a little hawli, or hood, that you stick it into to prevent it from tearing through the fabric. Each corner has a rope which is tied to a stake, and then wooden cleft sticks are driven in at the corners, giving some height to the interior. These are the small tents, of course—the ones that people live in are much larger, big as houses, and require much larger poles.

Our tent has gone to the beach pretty much every Saturday for 5 ½ years, gradually getting more and more tattered and stained, until it ripped a couple of weeks ago. I told people we’d had a skylight put in, but they weren’t as appreciative as you’d think. (Note to those who want visuals: I do have a pic of Donn poking his head through this handy new feature, but he won’t let me post it because he doesn’t like it.)

We took this tent with us on Saturday, along with 3 extra kids, and headed out. According to Donn’s sources, the waves were supposed to be good. But it was Day 8 of the sandstorm. As we drove north of town, it got dustier and dustier. Blowing sand shrunk the horizon to just beyond the car. Why were we going?
Did I mention we’re stubborn dedicated? We decided that since we’d already made it this far, past the police check and the customs check, we’d at least go SEE what the beach was like.

We did. It was horrible. The wind was howling off the desert, whipping the sand up in swirls and whirls, stinging lashes of pain and irritation. We ate our gritty sandwiches in the lee of the car, then left. We spent the afternoon in the house with all the windows closed, watching a movie and spilling popcorn on the floor.

Sunday, the sky was clear and blue, for a change. We took down all the Christmas decorations, dusting them off before packing them. You would not believe how much dust gets into my house during a sandstorm, in spite of sealed windows and closed doors. Even the cat was dusty.

It’s official—the sandstorm is over. We can see the sun (and it’s hot). My friend was laughing at some tourists she saw today outside a hotel, sunglasses on and soaking up the rays. But even with afternoon temps in the 80s, the shade is cool and the nights need blankets. The moon soars amongst the stars, casting shadows in the garden. It’s perfect weather.

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