By James Marr

"Seen during the thick finish of a schnapps bottle, the belief of riding to a track competition close to Timbuktu used to be idiot-proof. Then sunrise arrived with a clunk; West Africa? No subject the place I grew to become, the studying was once both grim... Daniel Houghton: murdered as he begged water from a good close to Simbing. Mungo Park: overcome via paranoia and slaughtered at Bussa Rapids. Gordon Laing: strangled and beheaded outdoor Timbuktu. Hugh Clapperton: crippled with malaria and dysentary, rotted to loss of life. Richard Lander: despatched briefly insane and compelled to eat bowls of poison by means of the king of Badagari. i would yanked my studying sessions from my nostril and gawped during the window. Did i actually are looking to force via this hell?" In his Toyota 4x4, with his spouse and pals, James Marr heads overland within the foosteps of 18th and nineteenth century explorers. alongside the best way he loses his passport within the sand, ruptures his gasoline tank, fortifies his...

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Extra info for City of Myths, River of Dreams. Overland from the Barbary Coast to the Gulf of Guinea

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It was soon apparent our waiter had never visited the woodman on anything other than his scooter. To our increasing alarm he led us through a labyrinth of gradually narrowing streets. Just as we imagined we might become forever wedged in the suburbs of Agadir, a gaping doorway displaying a store of chopped wood appeared miraculously beside us. We squeezed out, haggled over the price with somebody’s cousin, and loaded fifty kilos in the last available space on the roof-rack. Finally, we were ready for the open road.

By the time we were loaded, it was already past midday. Our final task before departing was to commandeer the waiter, who knew a man, who knew another man, who had a cousin who sold wood. It was not far, he assured us. He kicked his scooter into life. ’ he called, and with that he was off. We followed the scooter through a series of pitted backstreets, the car rocking lazily as it dipped in and out of the potholes. It was soon apparent our waiter had never visited the woodman on anything other than his scooter.

Winter, then, is presumably when visitors are allowed the greatest degree of tolerance where madness is concerned, which was good, considering we were trying to force our pimped-up pickup down a series of right angles not much broader than a gutter. Whilst attempting to keep our bull bar from unhooking wooden shutters, ripping off door handles, crushing potted plants and flattening downpipes, we caught glimpses of the November rollers thundering toward the coast, topped with crouching surfers skimming the emerald sea.

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