| It's now 9:20am and beginning to get hot. Our driver slows to a halt, then gets out of the car. We have a flat tire. This must be commonplace since he has all his tire-changing tools handy. The passengers all disperse while Gregg and I standby. 15m has crossed the road and is sitting in the sand praying. The woman has found herself a nice rock to sit on and a good chew-stick from a nearby bush. Lunettes is in the distance relieving himself and the rest—the boy and Beads—are watching Gregg and I watch our driver change the tire.
Ten minutes pass and we're as good as new, so we all pile back in the car. 15m continues his ranting, which is incessant and zealous, so we assume he must be an Imam or some holy person. He is making sweeping gestures with his arms, space permitting, while Lunettes and the driver listen intently. They ask us for a scrap of paper, which we provide from our daypack. Lunettes starts taking copius notes in Arabic—verses from the Koran?
We come to a random spot along the road and stop where there is not even a village. Lunettes is getting off and I look to see where he is going but do not see him. As we pull away, I see that he on the ground, propped up on an elbow lying on his side with one leg raised up in the air. Why is he lying down like that and how long will he stay there? I turn and watch as his figure fades into the distance.
15m, now riding shotgun alone, is holding the driver's right hand, as though reading his palm. The driver nods his head and occasionally mutters something. We come to another Gendarmes post outside a village called Tinguint. No formalities, only greeetings.
A Senegalese man in dark shades climbs in the back while the officials hand his identity papers over to the driver. We roll slowly into the heart of the village where young boys rush to our window, eager to sell their greasy bags of baignets (doughnuts). The woman beside me asks the driver to stop while she opens her small hand purse. I look over discretely to see what is inside—a pair of underwear, a tiny bottle of perfume, and some pocket money. We stop and she gets out, followed by the boy and Beads in the back row, and the driver.
15m, suddenly without an audience, is quiet, but raises his hand to people outside who recognize him. A few minutes later, the boy and Beads climb back in and I am surprised to see that the boy has a new pack of Marlboros in his hand. He can't be more than 14 years old and looks strange lighting up. He is ashing directly onto our vinyl seatback so I throw him a nasty glance. We are waiting for the woman, who finally reappears with an armful of fresh miniature baguettes, tied together like a bundle of wood. They smell delicious and I can feel the heat emanating from them as she gets back in the car.