Okay, I have skipped the airport and flying parts of this trip, cos it’s just people on a plane. I have also skipped the part where we all met, as it was magical and we all loved each other. Lots of frantic chatting often leaves me in a daze and I then find it impossible to remember any names, including my own.
We didn’t arrive at the hotel until midnight, so nothing was going to happen apart from sleep. I was once again paired up with champion non-kit kitter Terry. He woke early, claiming I snored. Breakfast was odd, and it was difficult to piece together anything resembling a meal. Boiled eggs, cucumber, withered olives, cake-like bread and a yellow object (butter/scrambled egg/cheese- delete as appropriate). But one must eat, as you don’t know when you will next.
We were then on a bus for far too long. I could only avoid nausea by faking unconsciousness. We stopped at a shop to load up on headgear. My haggling skills lead me to ask the shopkeeper to remove the expertly wrapped headscarf he had placed onto my head, in the hope we wouldn’t and I’d have a deal. All I had was a bare head. I then lost out on this beautiful grey headscarf, however it would go on to give me a reference point for future jokes. Haggling, incidentally, will not appear on my CV.
We stopped for lunch under a tree, on the floor, on some magic carpets. My hamstrings won’t be able to take this ground sitting all week. I can barely last a yoga class. Yet more random cheese for our meal, hard and remarkable, and paired with sardines. I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth though, and please don’t think I’m moany. The gang looking after us put a toilet tent up for us over lunch, it’s the only time they did this at lunchtime. Clearly we weren’t familiar enough to ablute in front of each other at this stage. I might find squatting difficult, although I can squat with 120kg, but don’t usually empty my bowels at the same time.
So… we are in the fuc**ng desert. It’s hot, and sunny.
We began our trek across stony ground, through plants I didn’t know, desperately trying not to stand on them! The landscape soon changed to dunes, and cartoon-quality desert. Our feet became unpredictable.
I am drinking a lot of water, thanks to my platypus machine thing. I am also peeing a lot. This fact would amuse my teammates in later days. I would also become more confident in how close I would pee in proximity to my team mates.
We only walked a few hours that afternoon, but it was a nice taster. And before you knew it, we were in camp, sat on rugs, trying to name famous Tracey’s. The camps are cool, like a leisure complex, we have ladies and gents tents, ladies and gents toilets (defined by size of ground hole and vase of flowers on the side), a mess tent, and a kitchen tent. There’s sometimes a patio too, i.e. rugs on the floor.
As soon as we reach camp, every day, we are served mint tea and “flying Henry” biscuits, and we must sit on the floor once more. I realised by day 3 that positioning myself near a pole would help, and it did help in particular when I went blind for an evening.
When the sun goes down, it turns the sky’s thermostat off, and we must get changed into 5 sets of pyjamas, mine are typically skimpy and rose a laugh.
Dinner was soup. But not just soup. However, I thought it was, so had 3 bowls and then couldn’t eat my dinner. The main course was a stew containing unidentified vegetables, and a rather hard carrot. I then couldn’t manage dessert as the top half of my face had gone to sleep. The bright desert-ness had really taken it out of me. I also couldn’t look into the light. The lamp had it’s own chair, even we didn’t get chairs. The water got a chair too. The hierarchy is odd here.
I had to give in to my tired, tired eyes. But by going to bed first, it would later become clear I was one of the snorers. I slept very well though, until 4am when it gets right cold. My nasal strip had also fallen off.