We’ve battled our way across a sand field in our trusty Land Rover Freelander support car to reach the end of the ninth stage.
Until recently, everyone agreed that domestic cats first appeared in ancient Egypt, about five thousand years ago. Then in 2007, a comparison of their DNA with that of wild cats from Europe, Asia and Africa indicated that domestication probably began much earlier, perhaps ten thousand years ago, when agriculture was just beginning.
As I stand and watch two grown men tighten straps, fasten belts and anchor harnesses to secure my daughter’s wheelchair into the adapted minibus now required to transport her to school, my stomach turns. It is not an unfamiliar sensation.
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As far as I can tell, it’s the driver who wins the Dakar. The co-driver, the hapless soul who’s spent hundreds of hours directing his charge, receives little recognition until things go wrong. Then, in adversity, they gain instant notoriety, which seems to me to be spectacularly unfair. This blog is therefore dedicated to the noble art of co-driving.
Today is officially rest day, although clearly not for hard working scribes or the Race2Recovery mechanics. After a week of intensive action, this is the day to repair, replace and cross check while the drivers remind themselves what sleep’s all about. It’s also a day to get clean. I had a proper shower last night for the first time in a week and after I’d cleansed myself, I had to clean the shower. Some might think that’s rugged and alpha male; others might just think it’s disgusting.
In a fug after too many hours in centrally-heated, artificially-lit, torpor? My self-prescribed cure is to go wild camping.
Just me and the dog, no tent, pretty basic, to the windy, beautiful Gower peninsula in south Wales. I’ve slept without a tent before, but only in the summer, and not on my own. This was a step up.
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As I write these words I’m sat at the start of the second special stage in the leg from Chilecito to San Miguel de Tucumán. It’s 8.32pm and the sun is heading off for a G&T. In half-an-hour’s time it’ll be properly dark. We’re waiting for the Race2Recovery truck, which has been on the go since we left the bivouac together at 7.57 this morning.
Right now I’m veering towards the disgusting end of dirty. My arms have a bronze colour that might be a suntan or it might just be grit – I’ll have to wait for the rest day to know for sure. There are showers in the bivouac but they’re so densely populated with sweaty mankind as to be barely worth the bother. Even my toothbrush tastes funny.
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