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Big Boys and Tonka Toys
By Evelyn - 16 Jun, 1999

Page 4 of 6

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As Tanguy filled up his tank at the station, he suddenly realized he had somehow misplaced his oogs (ougiyas, Mauritanian money) he just changed. He fervantly searched his pockets. We headed back to the auberge to check there. No luck. Meanwhile I watched our patrons burn through their small reserve of patience. Poor Tanguy, he was having all sorts of troubles ever since he rolled into Mauritania. The day before, at the last military checkpoint, he had snapped a shot of his bike with the desert scenery as a backdrop—a no-no because it was a 'military zone'. Consequently, the border official forced Tanguy to expose his film, then confiscated the erased souvenir. That morning the customs officials accused him of changing the 'valid until' date of his Mauri visa (the penned-in correction was made by the Mauri embassy officials back in Rabat). Now the people he needed to rely on for help were shorting their circuits.

By 4:30pm we were finally on our way. Tanguy was having great difficulty navigating the dunes and even the 4x4s were getting stuck. This lasted a few kilometers before we reached more solid desert ground. Tanguy dropped his bike once, desperately trying to keep up. I could see that he was exhausted and discouraged. He told us later that he had considered turning around right then. Meanwhile in the cars, Thierry and Roger were shouting “Putain!" over the radio, swearing that Le Belge was not going to travel with them all the way to Nouakchott.

Suggesting to slow down to wait and see if Tanguy was alright would have only made things worse, but it would have been even more disastrous to leave him behind if he were hurt and needed help. I kept craning my neck around to make sure I could still see the black dot in the distance that was Tanguy. The bigger dot behind him was Roger -- decent enough to stay behind Tanguy and make sure he was OK. We came across some others who were in our convoy, also headed to Nouakchott. Someone was having car trouble—we stopped long enough to inquire that things were under control and quickly left. Tanguy was going to stay behind and ride with the others who would go a little slower and meet up again where we would all camp that night. As we took off, Thierry muttered that Tanguy wasn't going to make it, as it was already getting dark. Guide le Mine responded "Well, he's not our problem anyway". We were like the anti-convoy.



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