National Geographic : 1970 Feb
our appetites, and we go without dinner. At dawn Professor Tazieff makes a decision: For the sake of speed and to conserve our dwindling supply of water, only half the six man team will proceed. The others will return and wait at the Land-Rover. Quickly we divide up. Franco will push on to obtain rock samples. Aberrha, one of the Ethiopian sol diers, and I volunteer to accompany him. Lava Cuts Shoes to Tatters It is already too hot to be walking. In less than thirty minutes our shirts are soaked. The large drops of sweat that trickle down our foreheads and noses before splashing on the ground would mark our passage as surely as little pebbles-if the porous basalt did not drink them greedily. The sharp-edged scoria crumbles and crashes, tearing at our legs. It rolls under our feet, often throwing us, hands and knees for ward, on countless knives and needles. Blood mixes with sweat and dust. Although 206 the obsidian cliff seems very close, it takes us nearly two hours to reach it. Quickly then, Franco collects his samples. Our return trek is more painful than the journey in. The sun is rising ever higher. My shoes, new when I started, are in tatters, and I fear to lose the soles. Now my camera equip ment seriously hampers me. Franco, who has the compass, decides to leave me behind with Aberrha, for Aberrha needs no instrument to find his way. Soon Franco has disappeared in the wilderness of basalt ahead. Aberrha and I reach the Land Rover and our companions long after he does. The sun is at its zenith. But the Land-Rover's fan belt has broken, and we try futilely to improvise a new one. To make up for being last on the return trek, I volunteer to walk the 12 miles back to our main camp at Lake Karum and bring a sec ond Land-Rover. Aberrha declares that it is sheer folly to walk in the one o'clock sun. But he will not let me go alone.