Good Debbie and I met up in London today. For the first time in about five years, 23 years after the overland trip. It took a while to actually meet, as she waited outside the English National Opera while I was outside the National Opera House, but eventually we met up.
It was a lovely, lovely early Autumn day. Covent Garden was bustling with people making the most of a sneaky bit of sunshine. We wandered about, chatted, noshed on Mexican food in Wahaca, chatted and laughed. Laughed and laughed and laughed. A lot of chat was remembering the truck adventures.
It’s a funny thing, memory. We both remembered different things. Some things I remembered with prompting. Some things I was surprised I’d forgotten.
For example, GDeb didn’t get lost in the desert that night. It was Linda. GDeb realised we’d gone missing. She pinched our sleeping bags as it was so cold (and fuck me, it was cold) but stayed awake worrying about where we were.
I’d forgotten about the German guys in the campsite in Tamanrasset who were incredulous that GDeb and I were there without a tent. They didn’t understand that we were part of a truck group and seriously thought we’d ended up in the middle of the Sahara without any gear at all. Like a couple of flake-cakes.
She said that Geeky Chris was a nuclear physicist and not a mathematician. That Brad got very fed up with us having a ‘tea break’ every afternoon and used to walk on ahead. That was partly why he got left behind at the pit stop in the desert. She reminded me of the tricky situation with the guards on the border to Mali, the voodoo night and the robbery. I didn’t know that GDeb and Linda flew out to Nairobi to meet the truck at the end of the trip (but didn’t find it and went on safari instead). But these are tales to unravel in time.
We ended up in Stanford’s travel bookshop, where GDeb had bought her books for the trip all those years ago. There we found a copy of Truck Fever by Manchan Magan. This was written around the same time, following the same overland route and with a quick browse, we began to wonder if it was the same trip. Geeky Chris writing under a pseudonym maybe. Turned out to be a year or so later. Manchan travelled with an established overland company with paid employees. That desert road was more travelled than it seemed at the time.