Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Waiting for the Ottoman Empire

After leaving Jay and Eddie in the dust...literally, Mike and I hitched a ride with Tanya and Zoe from the middle of nowhere to Dakhla. Scott and Kara did the same, but with Emma and Alice. After getting in the car and hitting 120 km per hour for the first time since I left the States, I began to feel like I was in a race car, not a banger Alfa recovered from a farm in southern France. It was hard to believe that 200 km would only take 2 hours, not the 4 that Thomas takes, but as we sped through the desert to Dakhla, we kept our eyes open for anything remotely resembling a tow truck. Fortunately, my perception of what a Moroccan tow truck looks like is inaccurate, or slightly so, because as we hit the halfway mark I thought to myself that Jay and Eddie were in for a long night. Fears were slightly allayed when we were informed that the truck had left about an hour and half ago upon our arrival to Dakhla. Still, towing the bus would be, and was, a long arduous task, and the Yanks that were left in the desert arrived to the swanky Sahara Regency around half past midnight.

While Jay and Eddie were having a harrowing journey to Dakhla behind a tow truck driver who was apparently visually challenged, I was busily chatting up our future mechanic, Utman, or as Scott called him, Ottoman, at the lounge on the rooftop terrace. Important team business. Although the Ottoman Empire offered up pistachios and what I believe were assurances that he would get Thomas back in tip-top shape, apparently we were not first in line for his legendary mechanical skills. The Ottoman Empire showed up at noon as he said he would, looked at the bus for 5 minutes, and promptly took a two hour lunch.

Fortunately, some of the Yanks were given a leave for some R and R, and what better way to wait for the Ottoman Empire than to spend the afternoon riding quads up and down the peninsula. Jay, Mike, and I joined the Norwegian Army for donuts, jumps, hair-raising dunes, coastal flats, and a lot of sand. It was exactly what was needed, because, face it, how else would we pass the time whilst waiting for the Ottoman Empire to come without pulling out our hair?

As we splashed through the surf, kicked up the dust, and got various wheel in numerous configurations off the ground, the grins returned to our faces and we temporarily forgot that we were actually unable to predict how long we would be in Dakhla, or how much it was going to cost to get us out. Several hours later we returned to the hotel, showered, and the Ottoman Empire appeared. Covers were removed, electricians brought in, but no real progress was made. With a promise to return tomorrow, the Ottoman Empire himself cleaned up for another evening at the rooftop lounge, where Hotel California was eerily playing in the background. You can check out anytime you like...

The remaining teams joined us in our attempts to troubleshoot the state of affairs with Thomas. Considering the multitude of mechanically adept individuals who just cannot resist a proper challenge, and the kind and generous spirits of those who also feel that trekking through the Sahara in a banger is a smashingly good idea for charity, Thomas was poked, prodded, and unhinged anew. Although Thomas did not spring back to life, a number of things that are not wrong with Thomas were discovered, including the fuel pump. The diesel coming out of the engine looked good, and so the puzzle of Thomas remained.

Now, we sit and wait for the return of the Ottoman Empire, and hope that tomorrow brings clear news. In the meantime, there is a Valentine Day party tomorrow evening to keep us busy, and a whole lot of beautiful desert yet to explore. Maybe off to see some monolithic dunes, and hopefully news that the Ottoman Empire has conquered Thomas. so that we may continue our journey.

No comments: