Tam in 1990 Photo courtesy of Tigermuse
The next morning, we caught another taxi from In Salah, a rickety old Toyota, to Tamanrasset. We were still feeling too ill to ride and wanted to press on. The Toyota went through its two spares tyres when it was still 60 kms from Tamanrasset, so the rest of that stage was relying on luck to not burst another tyre. We stopped a lot to help other Algerians who had run out of petrol, broken down or had bad luck.
At one point when we stopped at a shitty little building which was meant to be a café, I had to get out and go to the loo behind the inn. The bog consisted of two planks over a deep and wide pit. I was feeling dizzy and weak from the dehydration. It was the most disgusting crap I had ever had, which was saying something when I had spent five years in the British Army on operations or on exercise. I had to balance on the planks, squat, do my business and try to keep the swarm of flies off me that was feeding on the mound of excrement below.
I returned to the front of the café where Dan was sitting on the porch at a table. There were other Algerians sitting down and staring at me. Hanging from the roof of the porch was an animal skin which was full of water for washing your hands. Stupidly, in my daze, I put hands into it to wash them. I should have used the water jug to pour water over my hands and onto the floor. The café owner was incensed and grabbed the water skin off its hook and emptied it out onto the dust in front of us. He obviously thought I was some filthy European. I didn’t care. I was feeling terrible.
We got back into the battered four wheel drive. We were to spend eleven hours travelling in the Toyota that day before we arrived in Tamanrasset, the town in the centre of the Sahara and at the end of the tarmac before you get to Niger some 300 kms away.
Despite my weak state in the cramped, hot and bumpy Toyota, I stared out of the window at the vast empty. There were a few road signs along the way. I saw one ahead of us whose message was facing the other way so we were seeing only its dark grey rear. I saw some chalk writing on it. It read ‘Will and Dan! Porridge in Tam!’ I nudged Dan and we both laughed out loud. The other passengers though we were mad.
After unloading the bags and bikes from the top of the vehicle, we put all our kit back onto the bikes. Weak and tired, we cycled the short distance to the main campsite in the town and went in. I felt terrible and Dan virtually had to put me into my sleeping bag in the tent.
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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