1112 Nighttime in the Middle of Nowhere (Mor 354)
Trip Start Aug 15, 2011
89Trip End Ongoing
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The next town is just a tiny hamlet that takes just a few minutes to walk through. I see a man sitting in front of a house and ask in Arabic, "excuse me, what's the name of this village?"
“Why do you want to know?!” He responds gruffly. I’m a bit taken aback. I’ve never met someone openly hostile in this region.
“I’m just passing through and want to know what the name is?”
“What are you doing here?!” He asks again, clearly not planning to be of any assistance
As I walk away it sinks in what that was really about. See: that man was blind, and since he couldn’t see that I was a foreigner, he must of assumed that I was Arab, since I spoke to him in Arabic. I guess, maybe the friendly hospitality of this region isn’t always universal (although I will learn further downstream that Arabs and Berbers actually do live peacefully side by side in this region)
And then… the dirt road veers to the right, past a lonely house and… disappears! All of a sudden, as darkness approaches, I’m walking on a footpath that clearly isn’t going anywhere. What should I do? I think through my options: I could turn back—which is something I hate doing… I could find a house (there don’t seem to be any around) and ask for shelter. Or I could sleep in one of the well pump sheds, which although not very clean, at least would shelter me from the cold.
Or I could keep going. And that’s what I do. In the semi-darkness I scramble through brush and walls of carrizo cane---now there is no path except the one I’m making, across a dry streambed, obviously getting farther and farther from any civilization
And then, I reach it: a steep rugged hill—not something you’d want to try to climb in the dark. Except I can make out a path going up to the ridge, and decide to give it a try, aided only by moonlight and occasionally the backlight of my cellphone… I wonder if this is going to be a decision that I’ll really regret—staying the night stuck on that rocky windswept ridge will not be a pleasant experience!
I reach the top… and lo and behold: just a kilometre or so ahead I can clearly make out a car—crossing the river! I gingerly make may way down the hill, where I find a real path… and sure enough it is a bridge! And not only that, as soon as I cross it, I find a very reasonably priced supper and hotel joint that caters to passing tourists (they give me a special price) and my adventure reaches a very happy finish.
But in retrospect, I was really pushing my luck on that one. I think I’ll stick to the main road for a while.