Read Part 1 Across the Sahara: The Unexpected Adventure
Read Part 2 Across the Sahara: The Oasis
We were bouncing along on the back bumper of the truck. We started arguing about the road we were driving on, whether it looked familiar or not. I waved my arm around to emphasize that it was, when we hit a huge bump.
We all went flying up into the air. My hand ripped loose from the bar I was holding onto – on the way back down, the bar slipped through my fingers, my feet missed the bumper, and I bit the dust.
The guys were laughing so hard they couldn’t reach forward to bang on the roof to signal Mr. G— to stop. Finally, they stopped and I ran to catch up with bruised hands and a skinned side.
Early the next morning, I was feeling sick, so I rode in the cab. The wind was blowing harder. We raced off as fast as we could, but the wind was covering up the tracks we were following. Mr. G— finally lost the road completely and got stuck. I hopped out and threw up.
We were not lost in the sense that we didn’t know where we were, we just couldn’t find the road, and if you aren’t on the road, you hit the soft sand and get stuck. Mr. G— finally pulled out his GPS and figured out where the old road was.
We found it and got stuck right away because there was no longer a road there. We just found an old broken down tank that the guys ran over to look at.
We got stuck three times in a row – 20 feet from each other. Mr. G— said, “This is useless; we’re heading back to F—.”
We turned off to take a short cut. It went through a minefield. The road was marked with empty shells every ten feet. Then, we got into a rocky area that kept getting worse and worse until it looked like landscape on the moon. It was a bad ending to a bad day.
Back at F—, we got a guide to show us the way. A few hours out, we lost the road and got stuck. The guide got us back on the road somehow. We kept losing the road and getting stuck, then somehow bumping back onto the road…
Visibility was down to about 30 yards. Lost again, we suddenly skidded to a stop. All of us in the back groaned, “We’re stuck again.”
We hopped out to see a forty-foot drop off a dune just eight feet ahead of our truck. That was one time we cheerfully dug the truck out.
Time was running out.
The G— boys had tickets to fly out the next day. Our eight day expedition had turned into eleven days.
Back at home, our parents were fighting panic. No one had heard from us and we were three days overdue.
Mr. G— decided to drive all night. It was an epic race across the desert: man against the elements! Or something like that, but we didn’t really feel heroic, just tired, hungry, and dirty.
We curled up in the back under blankets and tried to sleep. It wasn’t easy with sand drifting in under the blankets and bouncing over bumps. We felt the truck getting stuck every hour or so. Mr. G— and the guide jumped out every time and dug us out. The guide decided getting stuck all the time wasn’t that fun, so he ran in front of the truck to look for the deep sand to avoid it.
We “woke up” to see sand dunes still all around us. A little after dawn, we boys decided to warm up by running with the guide in front. It was slow going for a while. None of us recognized the surroundings; it didn’t look like the way we came.
Towards evening, Mr. G— finally admitted defeat, having driven 48 hours straight. The boys would have to miss their flight out. We were all so exhausted that we feel asleep, scrunched up in the back of the truck again.
Finally, we started seeing trees. Then, finally, villages.
We stopped in one of the villages for the best coke I have ever had.
We pulled into town at 10 PM and ordered a huge Chinese takeout for a midnight feast.
The G— boys took a flight out the next night.