The Motorcycle Diaries
Trip Start Mar 23, 2012
35Trip End Apr 22, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
There was a sprinkling of snow on the tents, but nothing serious. Hira asked if everyone had enjoyed the musical donkey during the night. One donkey had been tied to a metal wheelbarrow, which it had dragged, screeching, around the campsite all night. Just for once, I had slept through it. The camel herders had been away at Cosimo's house, which was one of the stone dwellings clinging to the side of the valley nearby.
Hira described the walk as including a 'small ascent', which turned out to be much larger, steeper and more precipitous than I remembered from the walk in
I'd started off in second place, determined not to come last. On the way up the 'small ascent' of several hundred metres, I had slipped to 6th, but I held that for quite a while. There were a few flakes of snow flying at me off the mountains ahead. It was like spin-drift.
Three people caught me up and I fell in pace with them for a few minutes. Then my poles fell off my pack and I had to stop to pick them up. The three didn't even break stride. I stared after their retreating forms and felt quite invisible. I was ninth.
In my pocket I had a sweet that Bishnu had given me on the first day. I realised I'd been saving it for a moment like this. I sucked the nugget of sugar and tried to be philosophical.
Just then, one of the camel herders and Abdul arrived on a motorbike. Abdul got off and I got on. At that moment I loved Abdul. It was too good an opportunity to miss. We whizzed along loose gravel tracks, barely wider than the tyres of the bike. The driver beeped at everyone to get out of the way, making them jump out of their skins. I waved regally from the pillion, loving the surrealness of it all. It was totally exhilarating. We notched up 80km/h along the straight past Yilik into Rascam. I was glad of my sunglasses as temporary goggles against the dust, though I guess my woolly hat would have been fairly useless as a helmet. It was the best fun I'd had in ages
In Rascam I sat and drank tea in the home of Torsen's family. He had a baby girl of around seven months, who was amazingly placid and constantly being cuddled. There was a crib made from donkey-saddle padding hung on strings from the rafters. I amused myself for an hour or so with the hundreds of texts that Nick had sent me while I was out of signal range.
Eventually the walkers started to trickle in. For those that had not yet tried the joy of camel riding, there was a group camel ride. Nigel was filmed holding on for grim death and David finally made his peace with Blondie. Then the villagers slaughtered a white woolly goat. It died with barely a murmur, the blood running down the bank. We ate it for tea. It was in celebration of a successful trip. In return, we turfed out all the things we didn't need anymore - worn out clothes, boots, food and so on. The herders took their pick and everything went.
There was beer and laughter, at least for the Westerners. We sat around outside in the sun. There was one surreal moment where Mo, with a bottle of beer in his hand, was reading the Koran in Arabic, whilst the local imam looked over his shoulder. I couldn't make it up.