Here is life from a TCK’s perspective. My son, Raymond, wrote this after one of his favorite African adventures.
Eleven days across the Sahara. It was horrible but tons of fun.
We were in town, picking up a visitor from the airport. We got a call from the G—’s, asking if Clay and I wanted to join them on the trip into the desert with their three boys, who were home from boarding school on Christmas vacation. Was that even a question?
The luggage was piled in the back of the truck and we boys perched on top of that. We were all nicely squashed together like sardines. It’s times like this that you don’t want to be with somebody you do not like.
Everything went nicely the first two days. No incidents. Except on New Year’s Eve, we boys stayed up and burned down a tree to celebrate.
On the third day we reached the edge of the real Sahara desert. It was pretty bleak, flat and lots of sand and rock. Crossing this was to be the hardest part of our trip both coming and going. It was only about one-fourth of the distance, but we spent more time there than anywhere else.
Fine yellow sand and tall rolling dunes as far as the eye can see. Some of the dunes were as tall as a four-story building and when we camped for the night, we all went and played on them, jumping off ten to twenty feet down and landing in the soft sand below.
Well, most of the time you landed on soft sand. Once I ran and leaped out, holding my feet up, and smacked down on one of those hidden hard spots and it hurt.
That was the tricky thing about the sand. You couldn’t tell whether it was soft or hard. This made it hard to know where the road was. Just driving along one minute on a hard surface, then bogging down the next into soft sand.
That night amongst the dunes was the last big meal we cooked out in the open without protection from the wind.
When we woke in the morning, the wind was blowing and increased in velocity as the day went along until finally there was such a bad sand storm blowing that Mr. G— had to stop because his windshield was being ruined by the sandblast.
All day we sat beside the truck in a howling sandstorm (a lot worse than a dust storm). We had only one thought: FOOD.
That was actually what we thought about most of the trip. Pulling a blanket over our heads to keep the sand out, we talked about the food we liked best. We talked about food in the States, food in Europe, food in Africa; we talked about every food we could remember.
We were sitting there when a French military convoy roared past us. We waved and wished we were moving too.
That evening the wind died down enough to travel a few miles before stopping for the night. The next day was repeated over again and since Mr. G— decided his windshield was ruined anyway, we just kept on driving. He said it was the worst sandstorm he’d ever been in.
It lasted our entire trip.
Read Part 2 of Across the Sahara: The Oasis