On the road in Northern Africa at the age of 19.
This is not something I would recommend.
However, I do believe that the story that unfolds for this 19 year old in this, the second poem I’ve published by Simon Constam (you can read Dislocation here) is one that most of us could tell. The backdrop and characters would be different, of course, but the generosity of strangers helping a solo traveler is a common experience.
You’ll find that tip #9 in 15 Analog Safety Tips, 12 Digital Safety Tools is to engage others in your safety. While it is preferable that we create our own safety net for our travels, there are times when the generosity of others is required. It seems that our protagonist did little of the former and relied heavily on the latter. What good luck he had between Oran and Algiers. Here are his words to tell his tale.
Between Oran and Algiers
I remember a night in Algeria in 1969.
Bitter cold in the middle of October,
alone in a scrub desert, 19 years old,
almost exactly halfway between Oran and Algiers.
Wondering what I had done to find myself there.
That my parents might never discover
what happened to me. That I
might never get home.
I remember agreeing to accept whatever might
come my way and make the best of it.
And try to live to tell the tale even if years later
I might be broken.
I remember the family on their way to Mecca
stopping to give me succor, to aid a traveler.
I’m not sure that I was even alive
before that moment when their car stopped
and I saw their generous faces.