From Tamanrasset we travelled South towards Mali. Relentlessly. It seems bizarre now, looking back, but the trip was tedious and boring. Mike-A was obsessively focused on getting the truck to the end point (Nairobi) and used every daylight hour on the road. A few of us got into the habit of getting up for breakfast around 6.30am (stale baguettes, jam or peanut butter), then clambering back into sleeping bags in the back of the truck to snooze till lunchtime (stale baguettes…). Passing slowly through miles and miles of Sahel with little changing scenery, hardly interacting with anyone off the truck, was an odd experience. Detached and unsettling.
I didn’t know anything about ethnography when I signed up for this overland trippet all those years ago (for the previous episode click here), but it was a missed opportunity to explore how a group of strangers live together in a mobile unit, in/across unfamiliar spaces with a changing cast of additional characters. Some of whom were quite short-lived.
All out of Toto lyrics for now. Boy, that is one repetitive song. Anyway, here is the truck somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa.
June 11, 1988. The Nelson Mandela Wembley concert was live on TV. Tracy Chapman was haunting. The following week an ad in the back of Time Out, advertising a trip from England to Kenya. A couple had bought an old Bedford truck and were looking for passengers.
September 21st, 1988. About twenty of us set off from their gaff at Chalfont St Peter.