Across the Sahara Desert on Kinetic Honda scooter. Chapter 9

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As we were saying goodbyes, my KiHo friends appeared on the horizon. Behind them was our GD 240. For me, this was Salvation!

“There they are” I said, sounding like Henry Morton Stanley who, two hundred years ago, after locating Dr. Livingstone in the densest jungle in the Congo in Africa asked him, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

They waited till my KiHo friends caught up. We all chatted for a short while and the Land Rovers left. United again, all six of us went back to restaurant Yassine.

I told them how I survived, which was not very different from how they had survived the past three nights. They had a small tent in which four could sleep very tightly, almost on top of each other, which was most welcome since it was so bloody cold. The other two slept inside the GD240. The only difference was that they were prepared for what was expected while I had to face the unexpected.

We finished our meal. We had to move on. We joined the queue for fuel. Since the others had driven more than 400 km over the ‘Piste’ from Tamanghrasset, it was now my turn to drive one of the scooters.

We lined up the scooters in the queue for fuel where I had lined up with the Land Rovers couple of hours ago.

People in the desert always fill full tank bkoz dunn0 when or where the next petrol pump might be.

I was sitting astride my KiHo. Ahead of me was a car. When its turn came, the pump attendant shoved the pump filler nozzle into the tank opening and started talking with me while petrol was filling into the tank. He was an absolutely black Negro, not an Arab nor Tuareg. Surprisingly he spoke English. How come a black African is a petrol station attendant (which is what Dhirubhai Ambani was in Yemen) in Tuareg land? Tuaregs are the same color as Indians, brown, not black. This black man had never seen a small wheeled scooter in In Guezzam. He was asking questions in English. Where was I from? Which scooter was this? And such other questions. In hindsight, I guess he was either Nigerian or Ghanian, both ex-British colonies where people speak English.

While we were talking, the tank of the car in front of me got full and fuel started overflowing and falling to the ground which the attendant couldn’t see because he was looking at me behind the car and was talking to me.

Seeing fuel spilling I yelled, “Fuel is overflowing”.

He turned back. Switched off the filler and said, “IT DOESN’T MATTER. IT IS NOT WATER”.

What a contrast from the situation back home in India where water is free and petrol costs more than milk! Here in the desert, water was hundred times more precious than petrol!

We filled up all our vehicles. We also filled up our Jerry Cans: water as well as diesel for the GD240 Jeep and petrol for the KiHos, and moved on. We still had about five hours of daylight.

Our next destination was Arlit, about 250 km south, in the Republic of Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, yet which has 5% of the world’s Uranium.

This part of our journey entailed crossing the border from Algeria into The Republic of Niger and proved to be the most difficult part, terrain-wise.

I had been riding the KiHos since starting from Casablanca (Morocco) up to Tamanghrasset, up to which place there were tarred roads. I had not yet ridden the KiHos on pure sand like my friends had, between Tamanghrasset and In Guezzam. South from Tamanghrasset there was no road, just pure sand. That is why, while I covered the 500 odd km in the car (with the people who kidnapped me) in one day, the KiHos had taken more than three days (and three nights) to cover the same distance.

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