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Day 62: The Ténéré Desert

Michael Palin - SaharaAfter another hour's abortive searching of spectacular but camel-less desert, Mohammed, at the wheel of the first vehicle, suddenly yelps, points and roars off towards a clump of rangy acacias marking a shallow dip in the ground. I don't immediately see the caravan, as it blends so seamlessly into the background, but there they are, Ekawik and his colleagues, fearlessly stripping acacia branches, masticating 2-inch-long thorns to get to the tiny green leaves. Lying in thin shade nearby is Omar and his team.

We make camp in the lee of a 30-foot sand dune and pick our way through another salad, augmented with tuna this time. Before we go out to begin work, I give my increasingly burnt British skin a good coating of sun oil, forgetting as I do so that the wind has peppered my face with fine grains of sand. It's momentarily agonising, like giving myself a facial with an emery board. To avoid any further damage, Omar insists I wear my new turban. He helps tie it for me. I would never have imagined that 15 feet of coiled cotton could make such a difference to my life. Quite apart from protection against the sand, it also keeps me much cooler than a hat. And I look like Lawrence of Arabia. Well, his father, anyway.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 62
  • Country/sea: Niger
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  • Book page no: 178

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