Mario and Giorgio have done for me line up on the phone, calling me once I get my turn. It took a while’ time to talk with Paola because the operator was struggling to take the international line and had to repeat several times the number. For three days my wife received from me in cursorily, but all in all reassuring. We talked, disturbed by the presence of people in the queue. I offer another cigarette and smoke it again while answering questions and greetings to those who did not expect to see me cross the threshold of the Sofitel Gaweye Hotel of Niamey. When he finally Let's Eat is past midnight. The hotel restaurant is closing, but agree to make an exception to the rule. And’ Smart and clean: but I still wearing the outfit, boots included.
Touch the gri gri de la bonne route, the good-luck charm that for five years, Since I attend a competition in Africa, I always tied at waist, and I cannot but admit that her role as "Guide" has done this time too. I haven't eaten in four days, but I'm not hungry and I'm surprised a little’ I feel rather than have the stomach stuck. But when it's smoked salmon devour him in a Flash and I do the same with the grilled Tenderloin and French fries. The last meal, If you could call it, I did on the evening of 2 January in Termit dividing a piece of bread and a little’ with Roberto Boano. At the camp there was no truck of Africatours so we were left without dinner. Did not bring even the water and the only ration I could find was the half litre given to me by the service truck-Aprilia. With that I started towards Agadez on the morning of 3 January.
Meanwhile, a growing number of people around me who wants to listen to my story of ' Survivor ' and I start to tell reverting to a few tens of kilometers from the start… My Honda starts to burst, then turns off. I think they're clogged jets, or dirty fuel filter. Clean each other, and allotment for a track with many tracks. At least here will pass someone. I headed to la Falaise of Roaming until, near a large dune, the tracks cut eastwards. The signs of the road book however are different and I decide to follow them. I am not alone, on the sand i see the signs of the passage of three other motorcycles.
The engine shuts off again a little further on and again breaks down once cleaned the jets and the petrol filter. I reach an erg full of dunes and the engine shuts down again. The wind blows strong, and when I completed the ritual cleaning of the carburetor, He completely erasing your tracks. I decide to go back, to resume the longest joke. When I reach the oued of Egadò is now dark, so I decide to stop there to spend the night. I'm alone and I start to work on the bike in peace, scattering the pieces a little’ everywhere. I remove the saddle, I clean the air filter, the carburetor. I haven't finished replace when I approach the silent three guys, dressed in bright clothing. I'm hostile, but I realize only once gone taking with them my gloves, other things I had scattered here and there and especially the bottle with its precious water content. We lacked even this. I console myself thinking that I still have with me a sleeping bag.
The first light of day are already up. Rewind fast sleeping bag, do one last checked and put into motion. I walk the oued until crossing the tracks left by the passage of the race. I'm on the right track. Another fifteen kilometers and the bike stops again. This time permanently. Broke the brass housing of the main Jet. With the carburetor under these conditions it is utopian to think of leaving. I keep lambiccarmi the brain on a disconsolate carburetor, then I decide to turn the balise. Is something I wouldn't do. How to shoot the switch you are officially out of the race. Your Dakar is over. But considering that while the ride is firm to Agadez to the rest day I'm stuck here I don't see alternatives. Actions the fateful switch and wonder a bit’ because the red light stays off. I am convinced that only lights up to signal the last six hours of battery life which controls the functioning, and that the TSO is already aware of my position. I'll never know during the days spent in the desert that balise is broken and does not send any signals.
After a couple of hours I rather the evidence to the contrary when I see pass over my head a plane in your organization who sees me and sends me a message. I have to write my race number on the sand, and stay close to the bike. I'm on the right track and the truck broom will meet me. The plane leaves without letting me have. Nothing to eat and especially anything to drink. The thirst begins to be felt and the little water that I have taken away the tuareg. However I have localized and send relief efforts. I begin to speculate on truck balai, on how long it will be before your arrival. Cabbage, I tell myself, I lost the race, but patience. Even Gauri is withdrawn and will be waiting to Agadez. Once together we could get back on track, with the service truck, We could retrieve the bike, fix it, and cross the Tenere from tourists. I never have and idea fascinates me. Then we can proceed to Dakar, take the bikes and return to Italy.
It's just one of my many thoughts. The head blending to thousands and the time never goes. I think back to a book on the life of the tuareg and how they spend entire days in the desert properties like stones. I try to imitate them, but with poor effect.
I find myself counting the minutes, the second and with the slow passing of hours my confidence to see appearing the truck of salvation begins to fade. After dark the feeling of isolation is even greater, and decreases the hope. Begins to take shape the awareness that I might die. Not afraid, resignation.
You are welcome, I cry, I tell myself that I didn't give it to the people that I love all you deserve. I think a lot, Too much. I thinking that my wife will remain alone. Do I testament, dictating my last will and Testament on the pages of the logbook I have inside your wallet. Not a true testament. Is a letter to Paola. A love letter. I can get to sleep and when I sleep I dream falls, bathtubs, mineral water. Only aquatic dreams, but you can understand. I suffer thirst even more of solitude. At Sunrise starts my 3rd day scattered. Are increasingly pessimistic about the chance of being found. I'm starting to think the truck may have already passed two days before balai where I am right now. I stopped by while I was camped on the oued in a then-China kilometers away. Might also be finished off course, as indeed was, and never go more to get.
I spend the morning in searching, then I decide to move. Tomorrow I might be too weak to do it, But today coming back for fifteen kilometres will rejoin the oued where I met the tuareg and maybe I'll find a drink.
There are now three days I don't drink, his lips are dry and burns your throat. Shuffle all my stuff, and before we leave, I draw a big arrow, with the tip pointing in the direction in which I set out. Then I load on his shoulders the sleeping bag. From that I really don't want to separate myself. I thought a very short ride in motion. Walking is a tremendous gear. Journey plan for ri-save energy. What interests me is to get there before dark.
I'm luckier than I expected. After six hours of walking I reach the oued ed instead of the tuareg rogue I find a very family friendly and welcoming. The man is old, much older than the woman living with him and five children, three males and two females. Don't speak French, but we intend to gestures. They understand that I'm very thirsty and give me to drink. Non-water, as I'm dreaming for three days, but camel milk. And milked from morning and curdle in its metal case. Has a sour taste, strong, almost disgusting, but is my salvation. The smallest child is sick, have a fever. I offer to give her an aspirin and the father accepts. I realize how this meeting has loosened the tension, how she rekindled hope. No more lonely. Are only abandoned. Now I have to find a way to get out of trouble. From a difficult dialogue with the tuareg emerge precise directions. You can reach Agadez traveling for twelve days by camel or you cross the asphalt road in Tanak and in this case the journey is much shorter: just five days.
I decide to settle for starting the next morning towards Tanak and while we try to understand the three tuareg who robbed. I explain to the old my misadventure but I regret it because now claims that I returned the stolen goods. The result is a violent and incomprehensible dispute followed by a start to Brawl, but fortunatamene you stop to threats. I returned everything, except the canteen which let to their camp, distance 10 km. My attempts to explain that it's not the bottle to be interested but only go back home as soon as possible fall into the void.
The tuareg makes it a matter of principle and tomorrow we set off by camel only after rescuing.
An operation that will unnecessary extra walking comporte, but my guide doesn't want to listen to reason. Meanwhile I spend time making myself useful. Shelter a water bottle made with an air Chamber by truck using patches that I had with me to remedy any punctures. An operation that increases my popularity in the family. Live from tuareg fascinates me and surprise me.
Don't eat anything. They eat camel milk, tea, who drink several times a day following a ceremonial complex. To prepare the drink is the man. Is heat a container of water in the ashes. Once warm, the transferred into another container with the tea leaves and from that to a more. Decanting follow each other endlessly before finally getting the glasses. The father realizes the ropes using bundles of grass. My first night by tuareg is not as hard as the two from dispersed. It will take time and patience, but I will get to the asphalt and salvation. By camel. The next day I would like to start at dawn, but there is the bottle to be recovered and to carry out the mission goes almost the whole morning. The tuareg,no hurry and are slow, extremely slow. And inutile che mi agitate. I'm one of them and I have to adapt to their rhythms. Rather I try to learn to ride the camel, but it's not easy. I would be ready for the first leg, but still no one part.
Passes noon and I keep looking at the clock. Are the 12.35 When I pass overhead a plane of Dakair. There I was hoping for more. I look at it, but don't try to attract attention. I looked at him fixedly and nor do I think for a moment the possibility of not being seen. Passes on me again, and I understand that I must report my presence. I'm starting to get excited, and I write my number on the sand. Also point out that I need food. I threw a message and an energy ration. In the package, reached after many peripe-aunts, There's a reassuring promise: "in an hour and a half will be taking the helicopter». I'm sure this time will keep the word. My friend Tuaregs can do without escort me in and I will be back to full speed Tanak Agadez. The helicopter is punctual and before stepping abandonment to wind the testament.
When we land in Agadez Dakair managers, who coordinated the research, I'm happy as I am that this bad adventure is over. They too have slept very little and are tired. Just Uncorked a bottle of champagne and a glass to make me shoot a little’ the head. Then we all start at a time of Niamey. With me there's Beppe Gauri who collaborated with Dakaír in rescue operations following especially my research. In a few hours they are before the grilled tenderloin with potato now safe. I try to answer all questions and I think I'd be much happier if you are interested in me because I managed to win a stage, Maybe just a fluke.
I think I would not have wanted to leave the motorcycle in the desert, because Mario, My mechanic, He had worked so hard to get it ready to race. It was a beautiful bike, but old. It's only for this which has broken. Why was old.
I also think that this experience has given me much, more than if I had finished the race, that photos taken with the automatic along with the Tuaregs will be among the most valuable of my album. I think that this experience has left its mark, that something in me has changed. If I return to Paris-Dakar? Leave me a little’ time to think about it.
ALDO WINKLER – PARIS DAKAR 1989
Photo motosprint and archive fb Aldo Winkler