On our last day, we took a little boat across the lake to get to one last beach. Alex’ car had left at 6.00 in the morning, waking up every living soul miles around – which, in the desert, is not that very many, but still.
Now, those who know me also know I am not really a “beach” kind of person. My skin doesn’t allow me to be. You can’t really enjoy lazing in the sun when you keep thinking about how you might get burned or get skin cancer. On the two previous days, however, stays at the beach had been short, late in the day or there had been shadow to protect me. But now, the sun was high in the sky and there was no shadow to be found as far as the eye could see. So I covered all the skin I could with clothes, taking the risk to overheat and look silly. The rest I covered, as usual, with 50+ sun block. And impatiently waited for the cars to arrive and take us away from this inferno.
I would be a 5 hours drive back to Riohacha. On our way, we overtook a car that had a mechanical problem. It was Alex’ car, who had left 5 hours before us. Luckily, they had found a way to get the passengers to Uribia. But not the poor driver, who was stuck there waiting for help.
We were way ahead of the French but, at some point, we needed to stop and wait for them. Their vehicle was running out of fuel and they needed our reserve can. As we ourselves had tried to buy fuel in several places without success, I wondered if giving away our spare fuel can was a clever idea. But then I thought I might as well trust Emilio. He probably knew what he was doing.
Whether he did know or not, the fact is that after a few kilometers, we were the ones who had to stop on the side of the road. Because, yes, we had run out of petrol. It seemed like a bad sketch but it was just the bitter and cruel reality.
As we were waiting there to be rescued, a car coming from the opposite direction stopped next to us to inquire about what had happened. And, in that car, surprise, surprise: Alex. The moment he arrived in Uribia, he realized he had forgotten his shoes inside the car – shoes? How on earth can you forget your SHOES? It was a funny encounter. Not one that would save us though. We had to wait a little longer. Not too long, fortunately. Quite a transited road, for being in the desert! I wondered how many more times we would bump into Alex. But this remains, to date, the last time we saw him.
When we arrived in Uribia, the French were finishing their lunch. Shamelessly. Without any consideration for the situation in which they had left us. I even suspect them to have thought it was funny.
About 45 minutes before arriving at Riohacha, it started pouring. And storming. Even Belgian weather can’t compete with what we got thrown at us then. For a moment, I thought “Are you kidding me? Is rain falling here only once a year and are we in the middle of it just right now?” Actually, closer to Riohacha, the drought wasn’t as bad as in the region beyond Uribia. The rain we got to end our trip would make it to the city but not more up north, where it was so desperately needed.