Many women have confessed that they prefer a good bar of chocolate to a night of passion, although I have never tasted a cocoa bean that good! During a verbal spat with an ex, a singer songwriter, I was informed that she had better orgasms whilst performing on stage than with any man … I tried not to take it personally! Sadly, some poor souls have even blurted out that a decent book will replicate amorous ardour.
I do not relate to any of the above and generally prefer the real thing. Dark chocolate to milk, ground coffee to instant, fresh orange to purée. I would rather swim in a river or an ocean, than a chlorinated pool. Why jump on a bike in a gym when you can ride to it? Why read about or watch hanky panky when you can practice it?
However, in absence of the real thing then sometimes a substitute will suffice as a short term solution … which brings me to the Stupendous Sahara! This is not my first desert experience having cycled through them in New Mexico and Arizona in the States and from Darwin to Adelaide down the middle of Oz but I have to say the Sahara is the first one I have fallen in love with!
My appetite was wetted pre Western Sahara during the foreplay of eighty miles from Guelmim to Tan Tan with the vast emptiness only interrupted by a wee cafe forty miles in. The sense of anticipation was immense as I faced the wide open expanse that lay ahead!
I had stocked up on bread, bananas, biscuits, eggs, pasta, dates and water, adding quite a few extra kilos to my already substantial load! I was determined to practice safe Sahara and applied my protection, factor 50+ sun tan cream! However, as with any relationship, I found that I have still been occasionally burnt by the intensity of the beautiful but brutal environment. Being slightly inland I missed the cooling salty sea breeze from the coast but was so excited I barely noticed the mercury mounting, as I rode along with a massive grin that spread from one sand filled ear to another. Involuntary ‘Yee Ha’s’ bellowed from within. Is there an upper age limit for Yee Ha’s? … I hope not! Anyway, no one could hear me apart from the wild dogs, donkeys and dromedaries, which are rather timid and generally move away when you approach them … which is hardly surprising considering what we intelligent humans inflict upon them once domesticated.
Sighing is said to be the quickest way to initiate the relaxation response. As my experience of the Sahara has deepened my sigh ratio has exponentially increased as the desert slowly begins its cleansing process. The wind blasts around me allowing any aches and pains to be blown out of my physical body. The sun purifies, sending healing rays into the newly created spaces. The sandstorms gently sting my eyes, create a film of graininess on my gums, nip at my naked knees and completely cover me in a sheet of sandpaper which acts as a natural exfoliation on the skin. The nothingness saturates your soul and whilst this is not an orgasmic experience, it is most certainly an organic one, which leaves you naked and raw but feeling so content that you are almost reduced to tears.
Nothing really matters at all. My iodine flavoured water could be the best red wine. My sand coated almost indigestible digestives could be chocolate eclairs. It does not matter that my over priced bananas are soft, bruised and battered … they still provide an energy bounty for the endless wind assisted miles! It is not an issue that my clothes are dirty or that I slept the previous night in the filthy wash bay of a petrol station. Mohammed the pump attendant was incredibly hospitable. When I asked him if I could sleep at the station, he replied, ‘Yes, certainly you can sleep here, where else would you go? … so was Brian, the braying donkey who woke me at three in the morning to let me know that it was his filthy spot!
A wash was just thirty miles away as an oasis appeared from nowhere in the form of an empty building with a single outside tap. Initially, I never even noticed the tap but used the semi shelter to cook some eggs. Lesson learned, as gusts of wind and sand howled between me and my stove, as I tried simultaneously to keep my lunch, crunch free whilst chasing down various airborne pieces of lightweight equipment … I made a mental note to eat dried food in the future. Using my water sparingly, I had already washed all my utensils before my eyes had fixed upon the lone faucet. I had been thinking of a wash for a few days and here it was! My bandana became my face cloth as I soaped myself in segments just as a small bird arrived to drink the drops from the tap. I slipped my solid socks over my hands and lathered them in soap and washed my feet … who said guys can not multitask!
Watered, washed and fed I sat down in the now cooler late afternoon sun to enjoy a coffee and a couple of shortbread biscuits, whilst writing my diary and staring and immersing myself in the Sahara. As another sigh slipped out, I was tempted to stay the night but there was a newly laid, black, smooth and shiny macadam clad course inviting me to ride on … plenty more Sahara to be seduced by yet!