Dori, January 16, 2009 - Friday
Trip Start Dec 18, 2008
79Trip End Jan 18, 2009
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Just in case, I woke up early enough to make it on foot for the event that he didn’t show up. You could never know.
And as I suspected, the appointed time came and passed and the guy didn’t appear.
On the whole, I couldn’t complain about people I was supposed to meet on various occasions throughout Mali and Burkina Faso. They were on most occasions reliable. And even reasonably punctual. But there’d also been too many unexplained – and inexplicable – delays so I just couldn’t sit tight, trusting that everything would sort itself out. I knew that eventually it would, but I was much more at peace knowing that I had undertaken all necessary precautions. As they say, better be safe than sorry.
And the guy didn’t appear yet.
I seemed to be the only living soul in entire hotel up on two feet. There was no one I could even ask if the guy would materialise or not. So at on point I simply slung my stuff on my shoulder and started down the dusty street in the direction of the bus terminal.
The night was still heavy on Dori and not even a stray mutt could be seen around. At first I was just fine. But after a while I was with increasing sharpness becoming aware of the fact that my luggage contained everything an independent traveller needs inside a span of five weeks away from home. And so I had a growing impression that with every new pace my feet sunk ever deeper into the dust of the street surface.
I don’t know how long I’d been trudging like that. Probably shorter than it felt. In any event, at one point I saw a single light coming up towards me from the darkness, from the direction I was heading to. Then I heard the sound of a motor-cycle and finally I saw it. It was my guy. Rather late, but still earlier than it took me to reach the gare de routiere.
Recognising me, he made a sharp U-turn around me, raised a cloud of dust in his wake and pulled over by my side. As usual, with the language as more of a barrier for me than a bridge, we couldn’t talk much. He kind of motioned towards me that he would pick me up anyway. Well, my luggage already felt rather heavy and I didn’t waste my time thinking. So he grabbed it, placed it in front of him just as others had already done before him, I took a place behind and he started the engine again.
Probably aware that he was considerably late, he must have sought to make up for some lost time. So he stepped heavily on his bike, we got some unexpected acceleration, careened in the first slight curve and the wheels simply disappeared from underneath us, skidding aside. I found myself flat in the dust.
The guy was still holding tightly onto his bike and my luggage rolled a few paces away. At first, the whole thing didn’t look good. However, on the first check, I didn’t feel any pain. Not even on the second. Then I got up. Nothing seemed to be broken and a few light bruises, mostly on my knees, seemed a bargain compared to what this might have amounted to.
The poor guy looked considerably alarmed, but seeing that against his initial fears everything seemed fine, he regained composure, jerked his bike back upright and we continued our ride, this time much more carefully.
We got on the gare de routiere just fine. Eventually, everything was on time. Along the way we saw Arno trudging himself towards the terminal. And yes, not long after I had arrived, he showed up.
„I thought you wouldn’t get up so early," I told him.
„What should I do in bed?“ he said.
And so, aboard the half-empty seven-o’clock bus we said good-bye to Dori together.