The next day, we started off well but soon hit a valley of soft sand. I was not happy. Prior to this test, a Toyota, which was heading south, pulled up beside me. The driver was a Tuareg man and the passenger was a young woman. She introduced herself as Marianne and she was Swiss. She was working for a tourist agency in Tamanrasset. She had been following our tracks for a while and was amazed to see two mad Englishmen cycling through the desert. She gave me water, bread and oranges; wished us good luck and left.
The rest of the day was exhausting. We saw little traffic because it was a Friday, the Arabic holy day, but we managed to get some water from an Algerian lorry we saw heading north some way away.
Finally, at 5pm, we pulled into In Guezzam feeling drained. We were at the ramshackle petrol station and looked a state. There were three Germans filling up their dusty Mercedes and they spoke to us. One of them pulled out two cans of beer and presented them to us. It was an amazing feeling after the last two days of sweating over the sand.
We had to change some money. A scrawny man said we could stay at his house if we changed some money with him. We accepted, probably out of sheer exhaustion. We pushed our bikes into his ‘restaurant’, a dingy room with dirty mats on the floor. There was the smell of the meat grilling over a small fire.
The two of us were led by the toothless man to his bedroom, a small room with a sleeping mat on the floor, a pile of sand with onions d potatoes on top of it, plus a few boxes and other containers on the floor. What a hovel but we were too polite and tired to change our minds.
After leaning the bikes with our kit against the wall, Dan and I went across the dirt road to a more decent looking restaurant carrying our cans of beer. In the restaurant, we ordered an omelette and a bowl of pasta each followed by a second bowl each. The beer was almost a strange sensation but it was all the more satisfying. I was now so full that I had to go outside and lie down for a while! Back inside, we drank tea for a while, talking, relaxing and taking on the last three days in a state of disbelief.
Back in our room for the night, my English politeness got the better of me and the last three days became a little bit weirder. In the Arabic tradition of their hammam's, I was offered a massage by our host and accepted. Why? I just felt like one. I was expecting a short 'beat-up' massage from our wiry landlord which he, in fact delivered. But, then, I found him straddling my upper thighs while he doled out the massage and gradually crawling up my legs and onto my bum. Dan was in the room laughing his head off at the site of his brother about to be raped. I was close to hitting the man when he stopped and got off. I slept badly that night, especially as our landlord was in the same room.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
Don't miss a thing! Sign up to my free newsletter
Posts by Country