I agree, Silver. It's quite an astonishing hypothesis of Kit's. And yet, and yet ... there were rumours that such things did happen. Very rarely, of course, and with mercifully very few couriers. Heaven forfend that "couriers" and "bullshit artists" should ever be put together in the same sentence. Only the most fiendish of drivers would ever suggest such a thing.
Seriously though, I can recall many incidents that were sleazy, creepy, or even scary when it came to our female punters / the locals scene in the Middle East. Their not wearing a burqa was seen as a massive affront by some, a sexual provocation by others. But if such a thing as a disappearance under such circumstances had happened it would have caused a fuss that many of us would still remember, so in the absence of that, Silver ... I'm thinking that Kit's explanation may even be more credible!!!!
Yes, I have. I even put a review of it on Amazon.com, and the author wrote back to thank me.
It was a gripping read. The author was a punter on a Swagman's trip, if my memory serves me right.
Re this 1979 story, though: the absence of any confirmation here so far makes me think it was only a story as well.
I do remember another story from the road, though, that I definitely heard myself but never had confirmed. It was about a Magic Bus that used to stop beside a lake in Afghanistan somewhere, and let the punters go skinny dipping. So a passing local saw this girl naked, and, naturally, shot her. As you do.
Another one I had heard: a couple (Australian?) were driving overland and were again in Afghanistan and ran out of gas just outside a town, so the guy set off with his jerry can. Meantime, his wife took the opportunity to catch some rays. The petrol station was on the other side of town, so after he filled the jerry can he was walking back through town when he saw his wife's head on a stick.
Whether or not they were true, much worse things have happened since, so I presume they could have been ...
PS Later, when I was leading tours for Explore through a remote part of Mexico, there was this large church in a village. The trip notes said to insist that no-one take photos inside, so I did. That really got up the noses of a couple of investigative reporters on the tour, who complied but later gave me a severe lambasting about it. Fortunately, a passenger on that trip had also been on one of my overlands, and he gave them a proper lambasting back.
When I got back to the UK, there was a message for me to contact the reporters, so I did. They took me out to dinner, and to the green room to watch a documentary they had just aired about smuggling stolen antiques out of the UK. They could not have been more friendly.
They told me that they had used their resources to check up about the church, and had found out that a German tourist had insisted upon his right to take photos inside. Consequently, the locals had skinned him alive.