Notes from my journal;
Approx. 124 miles done today. started at 9.a.m. finish at 16.00. Long straight desert roads. terrain flattens. wind stronger. Colour of the land; starts off mid tan/ends with light brown.
We’re only about an hour into the days ride when one of us gets a phone call from a friend that ‘knows about these things’ as it’s information he would get in his line of work. The gist of the message is “do not go into Mauritania – it’s all kicking off in the north east of Africa. They’re targetting Westerners. It’s not safe.”
We have stopped on the road to be informed of this message. To say we’re devastated is an understatement. Yes – sure, most of us have been waffling on about the risks of this part of the trip, but to have it put to you in the blunt uncompromising term Don’t Go There! is a huge blow.
I think to a degree we’ve all been quietly massaging our own egos with the ‘terrorist threat’ and how big and macho we are by carrying on anyway… Apart from the paranoia that sneaks in now and again and so, we then talk of it perhaps to exorcise it like it was a bad spirit that will go away if we confront it.
But this information from a person outside of the group and respected for their knowledge on the subject. It’s like a bombs been dropped.
the bombs been dropped - so a discussion starts
We're all stunned about the news - Tom gets our reactions on film
"I said we'll have to make adjustments to our plans - not our pants!"
In the middle of exactly nowhere
We decide to go on because...There's no exits, no detours and two choices; go on or turn back
Even Earl is consulted
"I'm the only chicken here mate!"
"That told them"
So, moving swiftly on…
That was it really. There wasn’t time for a deep discussion here and now so we decided to delay the decision until Dakhla.
The thinking was that we would find out more there, hopefully find more Westerners with more up to date accurate info – better still, meet people coming back from Mauritania with first hand experience of the atmosphere in the country at least.
The thoughts running around my head were quite stark and rather extreme. If the group split over the decision and some decided to turn back, where would that leave the rest? Could we go on as a smaller group? What about the Bikes not being ridden? Attempt to get them on the trailer? We can hardly abandon them! Then, the paperwork nightmare at border crossings. Oh – and can we handle the costs?
Too much to take in for now, so we just rode on. All of us with a headful of ‘what ifs?’ All of us with our own personal demons and gremlins sitting on our shoulders and niggling at us.
Until now, one of the joys of a trip like this was that decisions and the trip in general was so ‘black and white’. But now there are countless shades of grey in determining what happens next. Also – and this is not good when you’ve a group of control freaks (my assumption – my fellow travellers; feel free to disagree!) so much now is not going to be under our control, but decided by ‘local conditions’.
Now this is an adventure. Not perhaps the adventure we had in mind – but you cant deny, it’s getting adventurous! 🙂
We rode on. It wasn’t long before we got to Dakhla. The day and how it went from start to end, how we reacted, how we coped inside our heads and interacted with our co-travellers…. is the day we truly bonded as a group.
As if it wasn’t interesting enough – now it got more so.