No fun

 

`No I am not okay and I am ready to go home. This entire trip has become useless. I might as well put my airplane on a bike`.

 

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Antoine is completely done. We have just been dropped off after a 120 kilometer ride with four Saharawi man. They were on their way towards the Mauritanian border in order to buy a dromedary, when they met us stuck in a sandstorm. No problem, our bikes and our luggage would easily fit where the animal would fit on the way back. Antoine and one guy smashed themselves between bags and bikes and I had the luxurious position between two very friendly smelly men in the front of the car. Overwhelmed by the noise of a loud Moroccan engine (which needed a water refill every 50 kilometers) and the few common words, conversation between me and the men was limited. I was able to figure out that they had no families of their own, but the man in the back of the truck had three children. I believe with two or three wives. Communication with Antoine was limited to bonking on the wall between the front and the back. When they needed to leave the main road to go buy their dromedary, they dropped us off. Antoine’s face is white like snow. He does not say a thing but his mind is spinning. Why did we not just camp to wait out the sandstorm? Why did the ride have to be 120 kilometers? Why didn’t we just fight? All reasonable answers are useless. Camping in the minefield between Dakhla and the border, biking 4 kilometers an hour on a 160 kilometer stretch with nothing but sand and mines, those were just no options. I know that, Antoine knows that. Yet it is so hard.
We bike on to the next gas station and find a hotel with a shower and roasted chicken. Since Dakhla we have been fighting with the wind. Actually the entire desert so far has been hard in terms of wind. Where other bikers write on their websites that they biked the desert in two weeks, pushed by the wind, we have found ourselves rarely pushed by the wind but mostly working hard to even make 14 kilometers per hour. As long as we can find water, food and a place to camp, that is no problem. The stretch between Dakhla and the border with Mauritania however is covered in landmines. Regularly dromedaries are blown up. Here we camped in the middle of a village and once in a room inside a gas station. We eat our lunches one meter from the safe road and pee not more than a meter away from it. It has turned really hot now. We cannot sit still for more than half an hour because of the heat and the flies. There is no way to hide from either one of them. When I am starting to have illusions about swimming pools and ice cream, the most unexpected thing appears in front of us: a house size faucet with dripping water. We throw our bikes on the side and jump under the water. Nothing has ever felt this good before. In the middle of the minefield we cross the Tropic of Cancer. No sign, no nothing. Some other tourists tell us that there is an old Spanish lighthouse. We mark it as the 'for us' impressive crossing. (The tourists by the way yell as they approach us: `It’s a woman, it’s a woman` amazed as they are that women can bike the desert. Funny.)
From the hotel after the 120 kilometer ride, the border is only a solid eighty kilometers away. We are so ready to move on to the next country. By sunset we still have not made it. We are both very tired and we feel sick. We drink water, we eat salty peanuts. Nothing seems to help. Some road workers invite us for tea, after we have crossed them five times over the last two days. They are friendly and it is fun, but the sugar makes us feel worse. They tell us that the last kilometer on the Moroccan road is number 2337. We start counting down. It is beautiful here. White dunes and hills by the side of the road with little rocks stacked on top. Antoine thinks it has been to mark the road, the road workers say it is to mark minefields. When we finally reach the border we are so tired that it takes us more than an hour to pick a place to pitch our tent. We end up right in front of a restaurant and cook pasta with a can of tuna. My last onion is rotten. I feel rotten. It takes me hours to fall asleep.

2 Reactions to: “No fun”


  1. 1 Marian Febvre

    I’m so proud of you that you have done this! And so glad that it is now behind you and perhaps can be viewed as “accomplished even though anything but fun”. I’m so glad we got to talk to you this morning and know that you are well and resting.
    Love, M (& P)

  2. 2 Dottie Ragouzis

    I still cannot fathom what you two are doing.
    Hang in there, it is unbelievable. Just think what you have accomplished. I don’t think there is another couple in the world that has done anything like this.
    I send my love and protective vibes.
    Dottie Ragouzis

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