It started in the morning with our collecting water from a policeman. He advised us that there was a structure about 10 miles away where we could take shelter for the night.
We should have known better than to:
A. Trust anyone on distances- a matter of 1 extra mile, let alone 5 additional miles is a matter of sever sense of humour failure after 20 long sweaty miles.
or B. to actively seek human shelter- in the past this has led to mice and dog “attacks” and the shelter itself turning into a giant acoustic traffic drum.
Not having learnt and undeterred, we trotted on a full 23 miles until a cluster of lorries appeared on the horizon and an old concrete bunker came into view.
Neither of us worked out exactly what the building had been meant for, lying here 15 miles from anywhere on an anonymous stretch of thorny-scrub fringed road stretching in a straight line as far as the eye could see, but over the course of the following 14 hours we were to find out exactly how the local population used it now.
First were a trio of truck drivers dining in the far end. Each had brought his own plastic chair, one supplied the table, another supplied the “drop-down kitchen” from the belly of the lorry and the other cooked.
Dave’s request of, “Two milenesas and a couple of cokes” in jest, however, landed on stony faces….
Undeterred we wrenched all the bags off the trailer, pulled the mats out and began preparing our old road-side faithful of “smash”, herbs and cheese on the floor.
Eventually the guys packed up and headed off.
Time to try and sleep.
35 minutes later came the wrenching of breaks and another lorry pulled up. From around the corner appeared a squat, pug-faced man with his flies undone and his jeans hanging around his hips. His mouth hung open on finding two faces looking up from his favourite toileting spot and he rapidly scurried off from whence he had come.
During the course of the following daylight hours, we cringed as a series of cars and motorbikes stopped, but luckily rapidly moved on after finding us.
It seemed we had unintentionally stumbled upon the number one “toilet” stop in the neighbourhood.
Which was further confirmed by the periodic wafts of urine sweeping over us and the dark black splotches near the walls, as the shelter cooked in the mid-day sun to reaching a crescendo 42 degrees c.
What seemed odd was that people were still happy to stop and chat in the stinking shelter and use it as kitchen and dining room? Two couples arrived on their motorbikes and chatted. They were all seemingly oblivious to the stinking graffiti covered hole and the plastic, loo roll and old nappies strewn in long sinuous mounds around it.
For our part, being so shattered; the thought of moving back into the furnace and scouring the thorny shrub for shade came second to sleeping in a toilet. So we lay with seeds, plastic and grit pummelling our faces from the regular squalls.
During the night, lights swished passed and stopped, traffic boomed around the concrete bunker, a van stopped and an entire family unloaded to sit and chat around a table while their radio and music blared. They then in their excitement decided to announce the presence of the two gringos over the airwaves, so that the coming hours were further full of lonely truckers and bikers hooting their horns and flashing their lights in a act of solidarity perhaps.
Finally at 5:30 am, the boom of thunder marked the start of a storm and the splatter of rain drops intensified into a full sub-tropical downfall. For two blissful hours we gave up on running, thoughts of truckers and urine and slept in our concrete toilet unmolested, wrapped in our green tarpaulin against the delightful chill of the storm.
Which rounded off a blissful Valentine’s evening!