An Aussie 990 in Africa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by anydavenow, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. anydavenow

    anydavenow Long timer

    Nov 30, 2011
    Sydney, Australia
    In moving to Don Jon we'd upgraded from a site to a suite and while Filippo and Valerio cozied up in the king-size bed I was relegated to a saggy trundle in the entrance hall. Ordinarily it wouldn't have bothered me: most nights I was so exhausted that I'd be gone in sixty seconds and sleep through until I woke up totally confused about where I was (that one bed-bug-ridden night in south-eastern Morocco being the exception). But on this fateful night in November I was uncharacteristically hot, bothered and restless.

    I didn't have any evidence to support my hypothesis, but I knew something was up with Roma. Like an elite sportsman, subconsciously able to predict the trajectory of an approaching projectile based on a prior twitch in his opponent's eyelid, a life of analysing what people thought of me at the highest levels of the sport told me that something had changed—even if the intuition was too subtle to describe to a casual spectator.

    I got up and (phone clasped in hand) wandered out on to the landing that overlooked a moonlit courtyard where some tired garden furniture was plonked between two majestic palms which towered over the hotel building. It was a calm, peaceful night and I could hear the soft hush of the ocean—though I wasn't soothed.

    I spent some time lamely sleuthing around the little back-lit communal space that was the screen in my hand, compulsively looking up Roma's location on Find My Friends while trying to piece together a convincing narrative based on the last-read times of WhatsApp messages and contents of social media posts. But there weren't any clues, let alone anything close to Exhibit A. This would have to be dealt with the old fashioned way.

    Having incrementally increased the intensity of its beat over the recent hours I felt my heart thump forcefully as my thumb hovered over the phone, coming to rest on the familiar green "call" button. I quietly hoped the process that little tap set in motion would yield some assurance that my generalised paranoia was just that: I was being silly and should stop worrying and get some sleep.

    No answer.

    I hadn't really considered that as a possible outcome of the bet. What to do now? Double-down with another missed call lined up behind the first one on her screen, signalling to me just as much as her that my panic was officially full-blown? Or talk myself down and wait it out with my cards clutched close to my chest?

    I tried again. And again. Each attempt fast-forwarded the parallel plot-lines in my head to their various disastrous conclusions. The fourth time I called, she picked up.



    "Hey, what's up?"

    "Where are you? What are you doing?"

    "I'm on my way to work."

    "Right. OK. What's going on? Why haven't you been responding?"


    I become aware of my elevated heartbeat again.

    "Who is he?"

    A gamble, out of the blue and out of character for me, but the question seemed to ask itself.

    "It's not like that, Dave."

    That short, ambiguous phrase, dripping in discomfort and guilt, told me everything I needed to know. I felt myself retracing all my assumptions, questions, doubts and delusions in that instant, like a row of dominoes un-falling in a reversal of time.

    Surprisingly, the first feeling was relief: I wasn't losing my mind. My judgement was sound. I felt briefly together with a clear understanding of what had happened and about what would—the moment between the pop of the detonator and the rumbling, controlled collapse of the building. In that infinite instant I was unfazed—not processing, somehow protected. I wasn't angry or upset—or anything, really.

    I took the phone from my ear and looked at the screen blankly for a moment, then ended the call and stared for a little while longer at that small, black rectangular portal to my life back home. I'd come to the end of a chapter in a tragedy I didn't know I was reading. The portal was closing and with it the cold reality of the distance between where I was and where I'd come from started rising up in me.

    I stared wistfully through the palm trees at the moonlit ocean with a forlorn look on my face—unable to think of anything better to do. I tried that for a few minutes but I'm sure unlike Charlie & Ewan's experience nobody hurried out to respectfully capture the gravitas of the moment. I crept back into the room and snuck a cigarette out of Valerio's personal collection, thinking that might add some wistfulness to the scene. I hadn't smoked seriously in years but I thought it was a great time dust off that old weakness.

    I fidgeted back and forth between the room's balcony and the palm-framed table and chairs in the courtyard. I may even have taken a pensive walk along the beach. I was up for hours thinking myself in knots while waiting on an imaginary platform for a metaphorical train that was on its way to run me over. As was probably typical of Senegalese trains it seemed to have been delayed. It was a long and disappointing night.

    Eventually, I gave up waiting for the pain train. Nobody was around to express outrage, incredulity or sympathy so there wasn't much point in emitting the signals that might inspire them and I didn't have it in me to open the worm-can that was breaking the news to everyone at home.

    I slumped back to the room and let myself be distracted by sleep—but not before dealing with the unfortunate outcome of the stimulative side-effect of all that nicotine. As quietly as I could, I unleashed upon the rickety toilet in the doorless bathroom beside the sweetly sleeping Italian couple.

    I was mortified to find that there was no water in the cistern when I tried to expunge my impolite output. It seemed that the next morning would impose upon all three of us the pleasure of dealing with someone else's shit.
  2. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

    Sep 17, 2007
    Okie near Muskogee
    Heavy stuff.

    After being married and divorced once, I almost can’t imagine riding away for longer than 3 months and trying to have a relationship on hold at home, your life back there is frozen while you are right in the middle of huge life changing events on a big trip. The only way for it to really work I would think is to have that significant other with you on said life changing travel sharing the moments.

    I always think that a solo traveler has the greatest opportunity to be the most changed.

    I had a goal to ride the whole of Africa, now it is just on hold as the two wonderful kids have changed my trajectory for the mean time. Maybe I can convince them to come with :)

    Thanks for sharing your trip, thinking it will be easier for you now without those close ties to your heart back home or not... it does sometimes take significant time to process a separation.

    Loving the report, keep it up man!
    squadraquota, young1 and Bounty1 like this.
  3. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    May 16, 2013
    takes a great deal of courage to put down personal tragedy in a public forum, but this is what makes an adventure like this a real one. It’s not all about sitting in a beach sipping pina coladas or riding dunes across the Sahara.

    appreciate and respect. Hope you have managed to move on and ahead in your life, my man.

    hope you rode back to Veronique lolllll
  4. aspad

    aspad Empty Suit

    Aug 9, 2004
    Sydney, OZ
    Absolutely brilliant writing Dave. A compelling tale of a proper adventure ride very well told. I was mentally with you at every step on that gut wrenching border crossing and the brave solo (to start with) of the sandy railway track. Thanks for taking us into the depths of the riding and travel experience as well as the nuances of the rewards and costs of such a journey. I trust what you recounted in the last update has worked out okay for you in the long run. Looking forward very much to reading the rest of your adventures when you have time to write them up.
  5. Essbee

    Essbee Been here awhile

    Jul 10, 2009
    East Coast, South Africa
    Wow! I had to read that twice. Perhaps to remind myself that I'd been down that rocky road once, a long time ago.

    Superbly written, Dave!!!
  6. steved57

    steved57 Long timer Supporter

    Dec 31, 2007
    East Texas
    As mentioned many times throughout this RR your stories / pic's are spellbinding - hope you are doing well and looking forward to more
    OzCRU likes this.
  7. Bounty1

    Bounty1 Been here awhile

    Oct 19, 2014
    ACT Australia
    Dave the last 3 paragraphs, must be amongst your finest output to date, dare I say!
    BergDonk and OzCRU like this.
  8. ubermick

    ubermick Long timer Supporter

    Jul 6, 2014
    Petaluma, CA
  9. Cheftyler

    Cheftyler Adventurer

    Jul 2, 2015
    Arvada, CO
    Dave, that's an absolute kick to the gut, I've experienced that while only separated by an hour, I can't imagine being that far away and being dealt that hand.
  10. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

    Oct 23, 2007
    Haven’t much to add to the other comments above. Just want to repeat the remark about courage to write about it on a public forum. And once again, admiration for your writing talent. I wish for you that sharing it like this gives some peace and helps to move on.

    and please, do move on with the tales of your travel :-)
  11. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

    Aug 24, 2004
    Wow, I just found this RR today and spent a few hours reading it through. Dave, your pictures, stories and especially your writing are truly fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing it all.