Tue 23 Mar
For subtle reasons we have agreed that I will get myself and my baggage to Mousa’s house where the car will collect us. (I think Mousa doesn’t want everyone to know he's working with the cowboys.) To add further intrigue we go through a maze of back-streets, past a school playing field, and the town rubbish dump until eventually there is no more road and no more town. (I suspect this is to avoid the security checkpoint and having to present expensive paperwork.) From here we go off-road into the desert, crossing sandy “river” beds, passing mini volcanoes, and make our way for five hours towards the hamlet of Tabelot. The driver has been going far too fast at times. When we arrive he seems to be very angry that he has had to take his precious Toyota Land Cruiser over rough ground. He takes less than 60 seconds to off load our luggage and then races off again, presumably to get back to the safety and comfort of Agadez before nightfall.
Mousa is very quiet. He prepares some lunch, a fantastic mixed salad with fresh bread, and goes off to see a man about a camel (or two). The afternoon drifts by. The mountains are close now. They look impressive but impenetrable. The plan is to trek with camels for the next four days; it's exciting, we're going to have an adventure.
Once it has cooled off I go for a wander, fascinated to see the well-irrigated small-holdings and domestic compounds made almost entirely of thatch. Men are supervising the drawing of water from the wells. A camel is walked up and down a run, dragging a bucket from the well. When the bucket reaches the surface it's tipped into an irrigation channel and the camel returns. In the fields boys stand with a hoe, efficiently blocking and re-directing the flow. Girls carry baskets of yellowy-red tomatoes to a woman sat on a tarpaulin in the corner of a field. With a sharp kitchen knife, they are sliced and left to dry in the sun. Sainsbury’s has a lot to answer for.
We sleep that night just where the vehicle had dropped us, on the veranda of a shop.