At first, it all seems strange to you, but then you understand: you decide what your pace is, what you want to do, what aspect of the event you want to explore more. You create YOUR Budapest-Bamako.
An average of 12 hours of driving and 600 km per day, seasoned with a lot of off-road and unique landscapes. In the saddle, under the scorching sun, sometimes with strong winds, passing from the nothingness of the desert to the total chaos of some of the cities, dodging overcrowded trucks, potholes, animals in the middle of the road and all kinds of unexpected events.
I often drove at night, through the Moroccan sands or in the Senegalese steppe, in search of the right track to reach the much desired bivouac.
Days go by without brushing the sand out of your teeth, hair like straw, a few hours of sleep and off you go. Always behind schedule, tired but satisfied.
The images flow quickly, your feelings alternate between difficult moments and explosions of joy. Many unforgettable tracks and unique moments, such as the encounters with the many smiling children ready to emerge from every corner to greet you.
The stages vary. Sometimes they are smooth but very long, others are shorter but really demanding. You find yourself following a track without knowing if it will take you on a nice beaten and smooth path or if you will sink in the sand. Sometimes I travelled in a caravan, but a change of path was enough to lose the group. Not even considering the hourly count, you may have calculated half an hour to reach the indicated point and maybe it would take you three hours to get there.
Sometimes you don’t see anyone for the whole day. Other times, you drive for hours at night in the middle of nowhere. In these cases, correctly calculating gasoline and water reserves is essential.
And then,. when you can’t take it anymore, you see the lights of the bivouac in the distance.
So my 20 days in Africa passed, travelling through 5 countries.
Totally immersed in new cultures, travelling on the spectacular Dakar trails in the desert to the Senegalese Savannah, passing through the red trails in Guinea to the verdant Sierra Leone (for safety reasons this year the arrival was in Freetown in Sierra Leone and not in Bamako in Mali).
An ever-changing landscape, with a single constant: the wave of laughter of smiling children ready to emerge from all sides to greet you and fill your heart with warmth. Then, another thing became clear to me: it was I who needed them. And not the other way round.