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A Writer’s Journey 12 05 15

A Writer’s Journey!

For those of you who have recently joined my Reader’s Group, I send a weekly email trying to answer the question,

“Who is Spencer Hawke”

A Writer’s Journey is my story. You are welcome to write me if you have questions here.

Talk about Culture Shock!!

Sahara Desert – North Africa 1975

I had a map and a compass. No GPS, no cell phone and no air conditioning. My destination for this first leg of my adventure Tamanrasset, 1500 kilometres or 1000 miles to the south.

Do you know how many Gas/Petrol stations there are in the Sahara? Neither did I, but I was soon to find out!

Our Landrover was equipped with a reinforced roof rack, acting like a sun visor. The front of the rack carried 8 army surplus Jerry Cans. Each one filled to the brim with 5 gallons of very explosive gas. We had three secondary fuel tanks, all together 180 gallons. It almost seemed like an English version of a “Molotov Cocktail”. As I was to find out it was water I should have been worried about.

I stood at the northern perimeter of the Sahara, the Atlas mountains behind me, figuratively blocking my retreat. I had no option but to hit the ignition and start the trek. My final destination, the Great Barrier reef of Australia. It seemed an awfully long, long way away.
Three hours later, in the distance ahead we saw a shape on the side of the road. In the desert things are frequently difficult to identify at a distance. The heat creates a kaleidoscope type effect. Images dance like a belly dancer’s belly, jiggling from side to side and up and down. It was a mother, a Tuareg, covered head to foot in a blue Burqa. It must have been awfully hot inside there. We pulled over. Tears moistened her eyes, but her gratitude was evident. She tried to communicate to us what had happened. I don’t know any of the Arabic tongues. In desperation she pulled out a rag from inside her burqa, unwrapped it. She had a death stalker scorpion, one of the most deadly predators in the Sahara.

We turned our attention to the boy, he was silent, unmoving, and very dead. I looked at his mother. Her eyes told me the truth. She knew he was gone, but couldn’t give up. After a few seconds of eye to eye contact, she turned around, went a little distance, sat down in the sand and wept.

I did the same. But I drove off. Life in the Sahara is very, very cheap.

Last week I asked you. “Do you know where scorpions LOVE to hang out after a night feasting on bugs”?

Scorpions love to hide under rocks or small boulders. The Sahara’s loose sand and soil provides an ideal habitat. During the day when temperatures soar to over 100 degrees, they take shelter, sometimes before dawn if they are already well fed and ready to snooze.

That very night I was to find out one of their favorite hiding places. The desert at night should be considered the eighth wonder of the world. Later I put out my ground sheet, burrowed into my sleeping bag and gazed up at the most incredible sky ever. Not a cloud above and not a single light to obscure the most dazzling array of interstellar activity I could ever imagine.

That first night I slept soundly. I awoke as dawn was breaking out. Surprisingly in the desert, the pre-dawn night sometimes brings a heavy dew. This morning was no exception. I felt the chill. Not ready to face the reality of the day I pulled the ground sheet over my sleeping bag, to protect me from the dew and the cold. I turned over to snuggle myself, lying on my left side. A feeling of uneasiness forced me to open my eyes….. I froze.

Scorpions at night posses a quality that turns them fluorescent or translucent, that means they glow like a phantom. I don’t know the chemistry behind it. All I know is that I saw two glowing scorpions, less than three inches from my nose.

Many of us, “Non-combatants” frequently postulate about how brave we would be in the most dangerous of circumstances. I have no more illusions about my bravery. It would be impolite to detail my reaction to the realization that scorpions love to hide under ground sheets. Suffice to say, that morning my groundsheet turned into a groundshit!!

Next weekend – Some busses and trucks do drive through the Sahara. My question to be answered next week. “Do you know which side of the track they prefer to drive on”??

Feel free to share. Your friends and family can download a FREE copy of Part 1 of The Arrows of Islam, here.

Thank you for joining our Readers Group!

Have a super weekend.

Best wishes,

Spencer
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