Dan was still feeling rough and still had diarrhoea. We decided to start a little later to see how he felt and if he improved. I went out to buy some breakfast and bought fruit and milk, neither of which is great for someone with diarrhoea. I cooked up some rice and heated the milk which we had for breakfast. It was not great.
We left at 9.10am into a lovely morning with cool air and bright sunshine. The first 15 kms to the top of the col was long, winding and steep. Dan was struggling. We stopped several times to drink and eat biscuits. At midday, we reached the Col du Tichka, which was a typical tourist spo. There were boutiques selling trinkets, stones, minerals and expensive drinks.
I made some soup while Dan lay down. A couple of coaches stopped, tourists rushing off, taking photos and rushing back onto the vehicles again. One Moroccan asked me to write a letter in English for him, which I did. Dan wanted to push so I said I would catch him up after writing the letter for the man.
The road further on dropped for about 20kms into a spectacular valley but Dan had to stop suddenly to go to the loo. His stomach troubles were taking their toll on him. He was getting worse with the loss of fluids from his body.
Meanwhile, the scenery was amazing, becoming desert-like, while in the valley it was green with palm trees mingling in the earth coloured villages. As we approached Ouzazerte, it became increasingly dry. Dan was stopping frequently and was looking awful. The light started to, putting and orange-pink colour on the land. It was simply stunning.
But, Dan suddenly felt very dizzy, giddy and weak with ‘pins and needles’ in his feet and hands. [He had lost a lot of fluid]. We had to stop. He couldn’t go on. He had done well to get that far but we had pushed our luck. Dan crashed to a stop on the dusty roadside and collapsed off his bike.
There was nothing for it but to wave down a car to see if I could get someone to take Dan to the nearest hospital, which was in Ouzazerte. I waved down the first vehicle that came past which was a lorry carrying a load of small rocks. I asked them (in French) if they could take us into town but they were only going a further 4kms up the road.
But, just then, a car pulled up behind and a man wearing a jacket and tie got out and came to the front of the lorry where I was standing. Fortunately, he was some sort of ‘head man’ for the region. He said he would take Dan to the hospital in Ouzazerte. As he said this, an old Renault 4 pulled up. A woman got out and came up to us. She was a doctor. I told her what I thought was the matter with Dan and she confirmed that we should get him to the hospital. Dan was whisked away in one of the cars.
I was left with the men in the lorry and the bikes. With the help of two of the lorry drivers, I heaved the bikes onto the top of the lorry and then jumped onto the top too. We quickly drove into town (which was quite fun because you’d never be allowed to ride on the top of a lorry in the UK). The evening air was warm. The lorry dodged past cyclists on the road and soon stopped outside the local hospital.
The three of us struggled to get our heavily laden bikes of the top. I thanked the lorry drivers for their help and offered them something for their trouble but they refused to accept anything. I thanked them again and they left. I walked up to the hospital gate, passing through a crowd of people and asked the gate guard if they had seen an Englishman going in. I told him my brother had been brought to the hospital by a ‘town councillor’ at which point he opened the gate straight away. I nipped back to get the bikes and wheeled them into the compound.
From there, I went into the hospital, found Dan and saw the doctor. The doctor said he had ‘flu, a high temperature (38C), diarrhoea and that he could either stay in the hospital or go to a hotel. We decided that he should stay in the hospital. I was handed a list of medicines to get at a nearby pharmacy. I rushed off on my bike and bought the medicines plus bottles of mineral water and yoghurts (For me. I was starving!). I had to hurry because visiting hours were coming to an end.
I returned and found Dan in a room by himself. I handed over the pills and a male nurse dosed Dan up. Dan’s throat was so sore that he found it difficult to swallow the tablets. I was told to go and cook up some rice for him because that was all he was allowed to eat (It was all self-catering in that hospital).
The kitchen was pretty smelly and unclean, like the rest of the place. The loos were next to Dan’s room were very smelly and the basin in it was full of discarded food. I took the rice to Dan but he was in no mood to eat. I left him there to get some rest.
My next problem was to find a hotel and to get the bikes there. As I was leaving the hospital, the gate man and the man I had had to hand Dan’s passport over to earlier, stopped me and said I could stay at the hospital. They took me to the duty doctor and sorted it out with him.
The duty doctor said I could stay in the doctor’s hostal across the yard. Hussein (the doctor) took me across and showed me into a room with a bed and room for the bikes. I got the bikes in and was offered the use of the hot showers. ‘Wow! Luxury’ I thought. I showered and changed. Hussein then showed me to a shop where I bought eggs and milk. Hussein said I could eat with them tonight. I felt overwhelmed by his generosity.
I took Dan his wash kit, towel, flip flops and book to him before returning to the hostal. There, I was made comfortable and chatted to the other doctors for a while before we ate. Various people came in and out to say hello and they were all told about my circumstances and our journey.
Finally, at 11.30pm, I went off to bed feeling quite tired after the nervous energy I had expended. I got out of my sleeping bag and crashed out but not before Hussein bought in sheets and blankets (He also said I could use his bed! I politely refused).
Distance 100.7kms Average speed 10.5 kmh Time 9 hours 30 mins
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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