MIKE JOHNSON - I started writing late in life. Age sixty four to be exact so I suppose that comes under the category: it’s never too late to learn! I’m English from the county of Yorkshire but moved to Spain in the year 2000. My writing career began after meeting other published author’s here on the Costa del Sol. My first novel; Dragon - written in long hand at first would you believe – was edited by my wife who I found was more than capable – and far less expensive – than the Publishers. The next two novels in the series; The Korean Connection and The Buddha in Ice followed soon after. It may be of interest to learn the wrap around front covers were designed by me, and illustrated by a local design company. You have no idea how cost effective that is for a first time writer self-publishing? In between these novels I began writing short stories: The Little Home on Wheels was one of them, but my readers wanted to know; what happened next? The story begins here in Spain in places I have visited and know well.
THE LITTLE HOME ON WHEELS BY MIKE JOHNSON
It was early in the morning when the Moroccan family departed still expressing their thanks.
They watched them go still wondering how they managed to travel with so much luggage piled on top of the cars.
The coast road was only a few miles away. The sun had already made an appearance over the Mediterranean Sea as they travelled south. It was going to be another cloudless day and hot.
John found a place to park then went in search of a supermarket. His supplies were seriously depleted. Fortunately after a few enquiries a mini-market was located nearby. With the groceries in hand he intended to cook a large breakfast for the both of them. He was just about to announce his intentions when he noticed Alex was fast asleep on the couch. Closing the curtains to block out the rising sun he thought a bit of shut eye was a good idea and opened the bedroom door, then closed it again just as quickly. A woman giving birth is a messy thing he decided. The floor will do just as nicely.
Alex awoke late in the afternoon. It took a few seconds to get her bearings then another few more seconds to realise it was her that was smelling rather strongly ‘I think a shower is called for but first I must clean that bedroom’ she thought.
Twenty minutes later John returned. He had already stripped the sheets and taken them to a laundrette close by. A nice woman in a caravan nearby had offered to take him in her car as she was ‘going that way’.
He opened the bedroom door to find the place neat and tidy with the spare sheets already in place.
Alex was obviously in the shower so he stored the plastic bag containing the cleaned sheets in a cupboard.
Alex came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around her head and thankfully with another around her body ‘good morning’ she said brightly.
‘I think you mean good afternoon, thanks for cleaning the bedroom. I would have done it but I didn’t want to wake you’
‘That’s the best sleep I’ve had in a long time and now I could eat the proverbial horse. What restaurants are close by?’
‘There’s one on the beach not far away. I think you call them Cherryingitos but it’s not open until seven in the evening for some reason?’
Alex couldn’t help laughing ‘the Spanish call them Chiringuitos John but it’s near enough I suppose’
John just huffed ‘any way the food is quite good I’m told’
Alex made a decision ‘in that case why don’t we go for a swim in the sea?’ she decided glancing out of the window towards the sandy beach ‘the sea looks lovely and calm’
John agreed it was a good idea realising it had been a long time since he had done that recalling a family holiday long ago.
They both changed into swimwear.
Alex was polite enough not to giggle at the very floral shorts that John had not worn for over five years.
‘They were all the rage at the time’ he defended but feeling a little silly.
Alex had a one piece swimsuit which basically showed every curve in her slim and athletic figure. She also swam like a fish but John matched her strokes as they raced out to sea and back.
‘I haven’t done this for a long time John, too long!’ she decided.
‘I know what you mean Alex’ he agreed thinking the same thing.
It was early evening before they returned to the motorhome.
‘I think that restaurant should be open by now?’ John suggested.
‘Ok. Give me a few minutes to dress and we’ll go and find out’
John changed and then lounged in a chair outside waiting for Alex to dress. When she did the transformation was quite something. Gone were the faded jeans and baggy t-shirt of yesterday to be replaced by a very short and revealing black dress. Her hair was now tied up neatly in a bun. Her neck enhanced by a small pearl choker.
He couldn’t help himself; the wolf whistle came out before he realised it ‘sorry that was uncalled for we aren’t on a date or anything’
‘Oh!’ she asked ‘why not?’
The Chiringuito turned out to be an excellent restaurant.
Alex gazed out across the Mediterranean Sea and sighed ‘we live on such a wonderful planet David so why do we do our best to mess it up?’
‘Try asking an easier question like what is the meaning of life Alex but I think we need to remember there are more good men and women than bad in this world. I think you proved that today’
Alex smiled ‘it wasn’t the first baby I’ve delivered by any means but every child I help bring into the world is special to me’
David studied her as she was lost in thought. He was beginning to realise this woman was something special. He was also beginning to realise he was very attracted to her.
‘No!’ he told himself sternly ‘tomorrow she joins her family then we go our separate way’
Alex suddenly sat up and announced ‘I’m starving let’s eat!’
They both had Shrimps for starters. A Sea Bass was ordered for Alex and a Steak for John. The waiter sensing a more refined customer suggested a bottle of white wine not listed on the menu.
They had kept the conversation light during the meal not wanting to spoil the evening but they both knew that wasn’t going to last.
‘That was delicious John thank you’ Alex said putting her wine to one side ‘now let’s talk!’
‘Fair enough you go first’
‘Ok what do you want to know?’ she announced expecting a question on why she was a doctor or something.
She’d been expecting a question about how she became a doctor. She wasn’t expecting that and stopped herself from answering straight away ‘why do want to know about my family. Are you some kind of therapist?’ she asked delaying the response.
‘My mother divorced her first husband and married dad 3 years later so it’s not such an out of the way question. You’ve already told me your dad and your step-mother is here in Spain. You’re angry at them aren’t you?’
Alex clenched her teeth and stopped her-self from crying but it was too late. She grabbed a hanky from her purse and gathered her thoughts.
‘I was until today. I don’t know why but being with you has helped me think things through. When mum and dad divorced it wasn’t that unexpected really. It was all done without any fuss and I was never made to feel unwanted. They both re-married within 2 years and are both blissfully happy so why am I so angry at them?’ she asked.
‘I think you just answered your own question’
‘You mean it’s because they are so happy?’
‘Sure why not. When parents separate the child feels she should be the centre of attention?’
Alex frowned and thought back over the past two years. Much had changed in her life but both parents had done their best to make sure she was wanted and loved.
‘I’ve been a real bitch haven’t I?’ she said remembering the way she had treated both of them. ‘I need to realise wicked doesn’t always come before step-mother!’
I’m not sure about that’ he answered laughing at her confession ‘but I would be very surprised if both families are not very proud of what you have achieved’
‘Wow you’re something else John Spencer’ she said already deciding her attitude would improve from now on.
‘Please start calling me John for heaven’s sake’
‘Ok John it’s your turn. When is this R&R of yours going to end?’
‘My holiday or Rest and Recuperation as you have put it has another week before I need to return home’
‘That’s not what I meant by R&R John’ she replied looking directly at him ‘let’s try Recrimination and Regret instead!’
His question had shaken Alex, but her question had just hit him in the stomach like a lead ball. It wasn’t what he had been expecting either!
She noticed his reaction and suddenly regretted asking the question ‘I’m sorry was that too personal?’
‘No, and you have the right to ask it’ he answered looking thoughtful ‘and you’re correct I am running away but I guess it’s time to stop. I transferred to the Medevac division because I had a problem blowing people up in a very lethal Gun Ship. My superiors funnily enough where very understanding. My Captain said to me; you want to give up an armed Cobra for an unarmed Medevac. You must be crazy?’
Alex could imagine the scene he was playing out.
‘But he was right. Extracting wounded soldiers from a battlefield was no picnic especially when the enemy are still in the area shooting at you, but I was good at it. In fact I was very good. I had to learn revival techniques and battlefield survival but it all came really easy to me. I was also asked take other physiological tests that didn’t make any sense at the time until I was approached by a man from Military Intelligence. It was a job offer. Technically I would still be under military control but seconded to the Special Forces. It would mean dropping teams of SAS into hostile areas, then retrieving them later; hopefully without casualties’
‘My god John that sounds very dangerous’
‘Even more so when you consider the chopper would be unarmed. You see it was a matter of weight. The Recon Teams carry a lot of equipment’
‘Did you accept?’
‘I was still considering it when my parents were killed in a road accident. To say it knocked my confidence sideways is an understatement. The man told me to go away and don’t come back until my head was clear’
‘It was good advice. So you went to home and bought a mobile home’
They looked at each other and burst out laughing ‘pretty dumb thing to do wasn’t it?’
‘Oh I don’t know you met me!’
He was just about to respond when a polite cough came from behind ‘will there be anything else?’ asked the waiter in Spanish.
They looked around and realised they were the last people in the restaurant.
‘We are sorry to delay you please bring the bill’ she replied in Spanish.
John paid leaving a large tip as a thank you.
The heat was abating thanks to the breeze. The moon was high in the night sky casting its glow on the sea. Holiday makers strolled arm in arm along the promenade. Crickets were making themselves heard. It was the perfect summer evening.
He held out his arm, she took it without hesitation.
‘I think you should consider taking that offer to join the Special Forces’ she said suddenly surprising him ‘I have a feeling you’re beginning to miss flying those helicopters of yours?’
‘Now who’s being the therapist?’ he grinned.
‘It’s probably the smile that you get when discussing them?’ she answered patting his arm.
‘But what will I do about the mobile home?’ he asked stopping and looking at her ‘I can’t just leave it in a car park and I’m not sure how to go about re-selling it in Spain?’
‘Would you trust me to look after her?’ she asked him making a decision.
‘What are you laughing at now?’
‘You called the motorhome her’ he said still laughing and continuing their stroll along the promenade ‘if you’re sure it’s no problem?’ he asked seriously considering her proposition.
‘My family have a villa in the mountains with plenty of land. I can park it there no problem’
‘Very well I accept’ he said making the decision and kissing her on the cheek as a thank you.
‘Is that the best you can do John Spencer?’ she asked moving into his arms.
Alex had contacted her father to explain she was on the Spanish coast but would not be arriving at the villa for another couple of days.
They had stopped at Malaga Airport where John had booked a flight to London. He’d also contacted the man who had offered him the job with the Special Forces. He would join them as soon as he returned to the UK. Now the decision had been made he was eager to get started but he would miss the motorhome and also the woman he now considered a part of it.
‘Will you be staying in Spain for long?’ he asked Alex as the lay on the bed.
‘Why?’ she asked teasing him ‘Do fancy another vacation so soon?’ but also wondering if it was just a casual question.
They had parked the motorhome on another camp site after leaving the airport.
They had made love frantically and with passion.
The time had passed to quickly for them. His flight was in four hours.
‘You know what I’m asking Alex?’ he said holding her arm.
‘Yes I do and the answer is yes but no commitments John. We both know how our lives can change from one day to the next’
‘But I thought you were returning to London?’
‘I will if the agency doesn’t want to keep me on’
‘They must be crazy if they don’t. I’ve seen some good doctors in my time but none with your passion especially for the children’
‘Maybe too passionate for my own good my father would say’
‘I think I like the passionate side of you’ he grinned reaching for her again.
She jumped out of bed ‘Oh no you don’t. The taxi will be here in another ten minutes. Time for you to complete that packing’
Alex waived him off trying her best not to cry but it didn’t work.
When the taxi disappeared she sighed ‘I’m going to miss you John Spencer don’t get yourself killed or anything’
She turned to the motorhome and patted it affectionately ‘well old girl it’s just you and me until I can find you a new owner. Why am I talking to a camper van?’ she asked herself ‘sorry motor home’ she then said correcting herself and patting it again.
Alex parked the motor home at the entrance to her parent’s villa. They immediately came out to say hello. She hugged her father and her step mother, much to her surprise.
‘That looks like a fine motor home Alex but what are you doing with it?’ asked her father suspiciously.
‘It’s a long story dad but I will tell all later. The man who owned it has returned home to England’
‘It looks like it needs a bit of a clean’
‘Like I said it’s a long story, I don’t suppose you want to buy it do you?’ she asked innocently.
Alex settled in for a few hours to gather her thoughts before contacting the Agency headquarters in London.
Her Supervisor was a man called Henri ‘Alex at last I was beginning to get worried. If this is a confession by the way, please don’t tell me the details. I don’t want to know what happened in Monaco’
‘Thanks Henri but that’s over and done with. I was just calling to say I have considered your offer and wish to stay with the Agency if the offer is still on the table?’
‘Are you kidding after what you did in Africa of course it is? Have you been keeping up with the news by the way?’ he asked cautiously.
‘Not really I was rather occupied’ she almost sighed as she said it but stopped herself. She then suddenly became worried ‘what are you not telling me Henri?’
The pause made her even more concerned ‘the aid convoy didn’t get through. Fortunately, it was only one truck that was hi-jacked but the rest are stuck at the way-point. The African driver by the way is missing’
‘Oh my God’ she gasped ‘the children in those villages will run out of food and medical supplies by the end of the month, what are you doing about it?’
The next pause said it all ‘I’m not sure if we can arrange another convoy until the situation is stabilized’
‘We must do something Henri. If I have to I will jump into that mobile home outside and drive to Africa all by myself’
‘Mobile home!’ he asked ‘what mobile home?’
Oh hell why did I just say that ‘it will take some explaining, actually it belongs to a friend’
‘Well, would this friend be willing to let you borrow it for a while?’ he asked trying not to pry too much into her personal life which until now he wasn’t aware she had one.
‘Possibly’ she replied guardedly ‘that was just said off the top of my head Henri but I’m getting the idea you think it’s feasible’
‘Give me 24 hours and will call you back Alex OK?’
‘Fair enough 24 hours’ she said replacing the telephone.
Her father had been listening in the background ‘that sounds interesting. Are you thinking of returning to Africa so soon?’
‘The relief effort was only just supporting the influx of refugees from the neighbouring countries. I have to do something’
‘You’re just one person Alex remember that. The charities are well-established organisations and know what they are doing. I’ve been there myself remember when I was not much older than you. Don’t make it personal or it will devour you’
Alex knew what her father was referring to. It was all too easy to let the injustice get to you. Her visit to Monaco had proven that. Very well she would stay professional and do what she was paid to do. She went outside intending to go for a walk but decided the motorhome needed a thorough clean.
‘Best get it done. It could be home for quite a while’ she thought smiling.
Henri called late the next day ‘it’s taken some doing but fortunately we already had a convoy waiting to go. Can you be in Gibraltar in three days’ time?’
‘Yes I think so but why Gibraltar?’
‘Two Land Rovers with trailers are flying out from the UK but the military will only take us as far as Gibraltar. We’re trying out some new pre-packed trailers filled with medical supplies. It saves time having to start packing everything from scratch. They can be airlifted and dropped from a transport but we don’t have anyone on the ground to organise it. They’re all fitted with tow bars and wheels which means they can be taken by road. Has your caravan got a tow bar?
‘My Motorhome doesn’t’
‘Never mind we can get one fitted in Gibraltar if we need to. The RAF engineers can beef up the suspension a bit at the same time!’
Alex should have argued the point but she didn’t ‘very well’ she just sighed.
Alex sat on the steps of the motor home and tried to keep calm but it was difficult. The two Land Rovers with their sealed containers behind them were parked next to her. It had taken nearly a week to get from Gibraltar to the port of Ceuta.
The Land Rovers with the trailers had arrived within twenty-four hours but the people to drive them had not.
‘Sorry Alex but you will have to wait until your full team is assembled orders from head office and all that’ Henri apologised.
‘What do you mean by a full team Henri?’ she asked getting suspicious now.
‘Alex you are a brilliant doctor and a lovely person. We don’t want anything to happen to you over there’
‘Thanks Henri but with all due respect I have been over there before you know and survived’
‘I understand that but things have changed since you left. The rebels in the country have moved around quite a lot recently but why don’t you let mister Warner explain it all when he gets there?’ he told her remembering not to use the man’s military title.
‘I don’t suppose for one minute you’re going to explain who that really is are you?’
There was a polite cough at the end of the phone ‘It’s for your own protection Alex trust me’
Mister Warner turned out to be exactly what she thought he would be.
‘Let me guess Mister Warner. Ex-military possible SAS or something like that’ she asked when he introduced himself.
‘Very astute Doctor Trent but please call me Jack’
‘Jack Warner?’ she repeated giggling.
‘Yes, the name does get that response sometimes’ he said arching his eyebrows a little.
‘Oh I’m sorry that was rude of me but it’s been very frustrating waiting all week for the team to arrive’
‘I can imagine and no apologies necessary I assure you. A little humour is good for all of us. Come and meet the others’ he said indicating a group of people close by.
The others turned out to be two French nurses; one an experienced mid-wife and the other a young nurse eager to do her bit for humanity; a man with same military baring as Jack; obviously of a military background; and a man of African origin that professed to be just an excellent driver.
‘You all seem to know each other have you met before’ she asked Jack.
‘Yes we have except Colene the new nurse. She worked with Sister Marie Del Carmen in the hospital near Leon’
‘Sister Carmen, she’s a nun?’
‘You wouldn’t think it to look at her would you?’
She knew what he meant. Sister Carmen may be a nun but at thirty years old she could still be called attractive. A pity the young nurse Colene hadn’t been touched by the same genes. Plain would be stretching it a little she thought unkindly.
‘You’ve probably guessed that Freddie is ex-military as well. Actually he was a military policeman here in Gibraltar for quite a while’
‘And who’s the African gentleman?’
‘Call him Congo and no; that’s not his real name’ he told her sadly.
‘He looks quite intelligent and speaks excellent English. In fact, I would say Oxford English?’
‘Spot on doctor. He was educated in England but comes from an African family who I’m sorry to say are no longer alive. His wife and child were butchered in a raid by militants two years ago. The man has two Ph.D.’s would you believe and could work anywhere he wanted but applied to join Help-the-Children instead. The charity was glad to hire him. He’s a good man to have in a scrap but watch his mood swings!’
Alex studied the African. It was true he was highly educated with impeccable manners but there was something missing ‘losing your family like that must hard to bare’ she decided.
Jack introduced her to the team. They all spoke English except Colene who constantly sought the help of the sister in translating even casual comments.
Carmen as she would eventually call her had the patience of the proverbial saint and never once got annoyed.
Jack had disappeared soon after he had introduced them eventually returning from his short trip as he put it with two more Moroccan men ‘Ok everyone let’s get going we have a long way to travel. Doctor Trent these two men will accompany you in the camper van; sorry motorhome!’ he said before she had to time to correct him ‘and help with the driving if that’s ok with you?’
‘Please call me Alex for heaven’s sake and yes that sounds fine but the bedroom is off limits ok?’ she told the two men who shrugged of course a little embarrassed at the statement ‘oh sorry that wasn’t meant to imply anything!’
Jack was repressing a grin as he told her ‘you have a way of putting your foot in it Alex but like I said before a little humour is very welcome. The two men by the way are part of the Kings personal bodyguard so you can trust them to behave. They’re only with us until we reach the Western Sahara so I should let them do most of the driving?’
Alex took his advice. It was a chance a too study the landscape and the people. She had visited the port many years ago on a weekend trip with her parents. She had not been impressed and a quick sortie around the bazaars had not changed her opinion of the place.
‘It seems to be stuck in a time warp’ she thought wandering the narrow and sometimes steep alley ways. It wasn’t advisable to go alone she had been told but after two years working in a remote hospital in Mauritania this was no problem. Funnily enough she never felt threatened or uncomfortable. Even the swarms of young beggars left her alone.
The convoy with the motorhome in the lead as the Moroccan drivers obviously knew the roads well, left the port and followed the A4 then the A1 south down the coast.
As they left the port behind she was amazed at the construction work that had happened over recent years. On both sides of the road huge apartment blocks had sprung up but thankfully most of the cranes had been taken away. Every one of them however was vacant and unfinished.
She tried to estimate the units in one large block ‘there must be nearly one thousand apartments’ she calculated ‘what a waste!’
Spain had suffered during the recent down turn in the economy but at least they were showing signs of recovery.
In a way it had been a good thing she once told a friend ‘houses are homes were people live and bring up a family. The speculators and greedy estate agents have made that impossible for the average family to attain. The banks with their irresponsible lending should be ashamed of themselves’
Away from the port her opinion of Morocco began to change and she scolded herself for being so narrow minded. By the time they had reached Rabat she was in love with the place and decided to find out more about the country.
Morocco, a North African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea is distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences. Marrakesh’s walled medina, a maze like medieval quarter offers entertainment in its Djemaa el-Fna square and souks (marketplaces) selling traditional ceramics, jewellery and metal lanterns. The capital Rabat’s Kasbah of the Udayas is a12th century royal fort overlooking the water.
Hmm she wondered ‘if we get to Rabat early enough I should check the place out it sounds interesting, maybe I should have asked my two drivers where to visit?’ she thought then realised something. They had not spoken a word since they joined the party.
She asked Jack about it later in the evening ‘my two passengers aren’t what you’d call talkative is it a cultural thing or something?’
He pulled her gently to one side ‘like a said earlier they’re part of the Kings personal bodyguard. To stop them from telling tales they’ve all had their tongues cut out!’
‘Oh my god are you serious that’s disgraceful!’ she cried all indignant and offended at should barbaric cruelty. She continued her ranting until she noticed Jack almost doubled up on the floor in hysterics.
‘You’re a terrible person Jack Warner’ she shouted then broke into a fit of laughter
herself already seeing the funny side.
‘Like I said Alex a bit of humour is most welcome’ he said moving away to tell the others what had just happened.
Alex did manage to see some of the Capital accompanied by the two women and one of the bodyguards who explained it wasn’t acceptable to be on their own.
‘It seems your Moroccan driver has found his tongue Alex’ Sister Carmen ribbed her.
‘I’m never going to live that down am I?’ she moaned.
As they wondered around the town it was a chance to talk and get to know the two nurses.
‘I understand you have been to Africa before Carmen?’ she asked.
‘I was recently in Senegal when the Ebola virus struck. It is something I hope never to see again in my lifetime Alex I assure you’
‘Pray to god it doesn’t return’ she answered then realised what she had said ‘oh sorry Carmen that wasn’t offensive was it?’
‘Of course not Alex and I also pray to god it does not’ she answered smiling her companion’s choice of words ‘and if you do ever want to pray then let me know I do have some experience in that matter’
‘I keep putting my foot in it don’t I?’
‘You speak your mind without fear or prejudice Alex. It’s most refreshing so please don’t stop’
‘Thank you Carmen’
‘There’s one thing I’m intrigued about though’
‘Oh what’s that?’
‘How did you come by the motor home? It’s not something I would expect a young woman all on her own to purchase especially someone working for a charity based in Africa?’
‘I could say it’s a long story but in truth it’s not’ she said thinking now what to say ‘the truth is the motorhome doesn’t belong to me. In fact, the owner doesn’t even know it’s here in Africa’
‘What will he say when he finds out?’
‘How did you know it was a man?’ she asked.
‘Probably something to do with the wistful look you get when you talk about it. So who is he?’
‘His name is John Spencer and he’s a pilot, helicopters not airplanes. We met just recently near Granada. I had just lost a very expensive Mercedes car down a ravine, not mine by the way. He gave me a lift down the mountain. We rescued a family from a forest fire and then delivered a baby near the coast. We talked we made love and he left!’
‘Wow you do lead a very adventurous life don’t you?’ Carmen told her ‘will you meet him again soon?’
‘Not very likely I’m afraid he could be anywhere in the world by now’
‘Well; you need to remember something’
‘Oh what’s that Carmen?’ she asked frowning.
‘God works in mysterious ways or so I’ve been told’ she told her smiling.
The two Moroccan drivers left them sooner than expected. On reaching El Argoub on the coast news came through of refugees descending on a town called Awsard. The officials in the coastal town had been informed by their government that a convoy carrying medical supplies would be travelling through the region and not to delay or harass it any way; but they needed help and quickly. Jack was escorted to the town’s government building. The officials explained the situation and asked for help explaining it would take a few days to get a relief column to the area.
A day later they arrived in Awsard.
The number of permanent structures in the region is low; as many residents follow the traditionally nomadic Bedouin lifestyle of the Sahrawi’s passing through the town only temporarily and living in tents. The tents that Alex was looking at however had no connection to the Bedouins. These were refugees.
‘Doctor if you are thinking of going through that encampment then Freddie or myself need to accompany you’
‘Then I suggest you hurry up we’re leaving’ she announced already walking away from where they had parked, Maria Del Carmen and Colene following behind her.
Jack cursed under his breath and grabbed a radio then ran to catch up with them.
Within half an hour a tent had been requisitioned and a triage set up. Another half an hour later a queue of people many of them women clutching babies were outside.
Jack kept his distance and surveyed the area. He did not think the women were in any danger but it was his and Freddie’s job to keep them safe. Congo the African was kept busy going backwards and forwards to the trailers for medical supplies. It was not until the early morning that the two women decided they should take a break. The young nurse would look after the few non urgent patients still remaining.
Alex suggested she slept in the motorhome. Within five minutes of making up the beds they were both fast asleep and snoring loudly.
For the next two days they were kept busy until thankfully a relief medical team arrived to take over.
‘We need to get moving’ Alex told Jack ‘the people in the village I left will also be needing help and supplies. Have you managed to contact the hospital yet?’
Jack looked at her. She had hardly slept for three days but the fire and determination was still there. She had delivered babies, operated on children and adults alike in the crudest of conditions but it had all been done without complaint. It was no wonder the charity wanted to keep her on full time.
‘You had better sit down Doctor I have some bad news’ he told her.
She didn’t need to be asked twice and slumped into a folding camp chair ‘what’s wrong Jack?’
‘We haven’t been able to contact the hospital or anyone else in the area’ he waived Congo over ‘please tell the doctor what you’ve learned’
‘I’ve been talking to some of the refugees’ he began ‘they know me and trust me, one or two are even from my homeland. It seems the rebels have left their usual territory and have moved east. The government forces have made it uncomfortable for them and they are looking for easier ways to survive’
‘Are you saying they’ve already reached the village and the hospital?’
‘I cannot be certain of that but they would make an easy and potentially lucrative place to attack’
‘The medical supplies would be much sought after not to mention the women and children. I don’t need to explain what would happen to them do I?’ Jack asked her.
Alex just shook her head.
‘I’m due to contact London for an update. I’ll let you know their decision whether we go on or not’
Alex jumped out of her seat ‘you can contact who you like but I’m pushing on to the village. I can be there in 2-3 days; unless there’s a way overland from here?’
‘The Land Rovers could do it but not the motorhome. The charity won’t like it if they order us to return and we don’t’. We are driving their vehicles and supplies remember’
‘But the motorhome belongs to me’ or a friend at least she thought but didn’t add ‘and I’m going on. I can take as many supplies as you allow me?’
‘Wow there!! Let’s not jump the gun doctor. I didn’t say I wasn’t going with you but if I do and they order me back my job is on the line’
‘If you need to return boss I’ll go with her’ Freddie called out.
‘So are we’ added Carmen.
‘You’re going to need my help if things get tricky doctor so count me in’ Congo also called out.
‘Ok!! I get the picture. Let’s get packed away and head out. There is no way we can go overland so it’s back to the coast then it’s down the N2 motorway to Nouakchott. We then head inland on the N3 as far as it goes to Nema. Let’s hope there’s still a village and hospital waiting for us when we get there?’
TO BE CONTINUED