As we sat at the crackling fire after the day’s work an artifact between the firewood caught my attention. Amazed I pulled the object from the pile. A gently curved T-piece seamlessly assembled and pegged with a wooden dowel. The work piece was made of an exceptionally weighty and tough sort of wood which I had never encountered before in the Sahara. It was heavily abraded by sand.
“And where does that come from?” I asked around. “Oh this. It stuck from one of the stone piles down at the last Alamat we passed. I thought it would make a good piece of firewood” Roger told me unconcerned. It was a rare wooden artifact from one of the grave mounds. Rare for the reason, that the modern nomads, like Roger, were constantly on the lookout for firewood as well. This piece however, no one had dared to take.
For a start I confiscated the piece and took down its find circumstances. Its aesthetics and style of manufacture indicated a special object and perhaps its original purpose could be established. In any case it was a remnant from a time only preserved in myths and historic travelogs, and as such to me it seemed worth preserving in its own.
During the following day a meteorite find was denied to us. Because we were running out of time and our trip approached its end, we changed course around noon and headed for the coastal road leading to the north.
Because we had depleted our supply on red wine in the meantime, and because we planned on celebrating Marc’s birthday that night, urgent action was required. By identifying and making accessible the only wine selling establishment within 200 kilometer radius, the Swiss again gave impressive proof of their talent to tap new sources of alcohol in the strictly Islamic Kingdom of Morocco. In this case it was a Korean restaurant near a desolate crossroads thirty kilometers south of Tan Tan. The place had actually been closed, but somehow the Swiss had convinced the friendly lady of the urgency of the situation.
At the mouth of a dramatic canyon, ten kilometers south of the estuary of the Wadi Draa, we pitched our last night camp. Fog obscured the desolate beach that roared from the pounding surf. Our bath in the waves of the 55°F cold Atlantic made us quickly forget the punishing heat of the past weeks.
The birthday was appropriately celebrated with an exuberant dinner and a remarkable bonfire fed from a huge pile of driftwood collected on the shore. The event was a worthy finale of our journey. Presents were exchanged and speeches were offered, in Russian, English and Swiss German. From Marc I received an original Douk-Douk, and so I had not only a lasting memory of our journey, but also the memorable picture of Roger Dances with Tent engraved in blue steel in my pocket.
On our trip we had covered 3,600 kilometers, two thirds of in the Western Sahara. For the area of the Qued Saquia al Hamra and its tributary Queds, for which hitherto only two meteorite finds were documented, we added a further six sets of coordinates, a quadrupling of the known finds. The discovered meteorites are now scheduled for analysis and classification. We will report the final results here.
The Ergs of the Saquia and the Tifiquirn’s black Hamadas will accompany us for years to come. As a landscape of primeval starkness, only patchily covered by a thin blanket of civilization, the labyrinthine Queds of the G’idat Amwizirat have gouged themselves deep in our memory. The proximity to the settlements and cities along the coast is deceptive. Similar to the great continental deserts the traveler is well advised to remember, that for every triumph and discovery the desert grants, it demands tribute elsewhere.