|Photo by Leslie|
|High-fives all around!!! (Photo by Leslie)|
|Photo by Leslie|
|As if to say to me, "I salute you, Goofy One."|
On the way to Richat we stopped at the site of an old Portuguese trading post (the visible remnants are actually the remains of a French fort built later) no doubt a focal point of the slave trade. While there we were invited into the tent of some local nomads and treated to pleasant conversation, oodles of tea, and a spot of goat's milk. We all enjoyed it thoroughly but were a little perplexed by our extended stay (about an hour and a half) in view of Ahmed's professed time constraints. His capacity to boggle knows no boundaries.
The little bastards were following me. No shit. Its what they do. Rock hyraxes use sentries to alert the colony of impending danger. I was playing the part of 'Impending Danger'. I stood there mesmerized by their bizarre loud grunting alarm call and their apparent attempts to out flank me on more than one occasion. They exhibited no fear that I could detect and, indeed, appeared to be on the verge of a full assault. They outnumbered me 50 to 1 and, truth be told, I found them a bit intimidating. The thought of being torn to shreds by a gang of quasi-desert rats was a little unsettling. Not how I pictured leaving this world. Incidentally, hyraxes closest living relative? The elephant. No shit.
He caught on almost instantly and was extremely displeased. For the next twenty minutes he went 'off' using the word 'espionage' incessantly and with a demeanor more appropriate for a spy film. He was angry. We understood. We apologized repeatedly. He kept firing away and highlighted the lack of respect that forms part and parcel of our deceptive act. He had a point. No one would argue with that.
For reasons beyond me Ahmed claimed we had enough fuel for the remainder of our drive even though, in hindsight, this was a ludicrous. Initially, I believed him, so much so at one point when he wanted to fill up I questioned the need to do so. He responded with, “I know my truck” and that “we only had gasoil (diesel) for 80 km.” A mere three hours earlier we had plenty so I started to wonder if he were not trying to recoup a few bucks from us with a fuel subsidy. I glanced at the fuel gauge, disagreed with his assessment, and pushed him to keep going. That was rash. We actually made it 160 km (so much for 'knowing' his truck) but not before driving the needle close enough for it to start humping the 'E'. Imagine if we'd run out of fuel simply because I refused to believe he was being honest. Talk about a hollow victory. Our antagonistic relationship was turning me into querulous bastard. Damn it.