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B-B On the Road, Stage 6

January 20, 2018

Dear readers, sorry for the lack of updates lately - internet and time to write became a bit sparse the past few days. Let’s just pick things up where we left them in Dakhla.

We got up early that day in order to arrive at the border to Mauritania in time. On the way there, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer (the northernmost latitude, where the sun can be seen directly above). Unfortunately, the sign wasn’t as spectacular as we expected and there still wasn’t enough daylight yet for nice photos as of our arrival.

So we drove on south towards the border into the raising sun and stopped to get fuel. We were briefed to stock up on as much fuel we can carry since there wont be any petrol station for a long time. At the first one we saw we filled up one tank and only got 2 liters into the second car before they ran out of fuel - benzin that is, all the diesel people were still fine. Fortunately the next one had enough to fill up the second car as well. We also managed to collect a few race points by “finding” a car wreck, which was a geo challenge.

Following the roadbook, the crossing was going to be rather challenging and somewhat dangegrous even. Exiting Morocco was, as with entering, pretty chaotic, but still efficient. Many people wanted something, the passports were checked for the hundredths time and lots of people wrote down the number plate. With all that paperwork I cannot imagine how that can make sense or be evaluated at any time.

Once through the gates, there are a few kilometer of no-man’s land, which is guarded by the UN. Photos and videos can’t describe that strip of land. There is no road from gate to gate, only a few tire tracks here and there which we used to navigate. Seeing lorries driving through the roughest terrain imaginable makes you wonder how they do it, as our car was shaking and I was worried about my car not falling apart. Entering Maritania was easy, almost just driving through, as we would get our visas in tonights camp near Bou Lanouar.

On the way there we saw an excavator clearing sand dunes from the road. Possibly a life’s work for Sysiphos. We also came across the iron-ore train wich is up to two kilometers long and transports ore along the border from Zouérat to Nouadhibou. The following stage for the 4x4 category is going along the tracks towards Atar. Unfortunately, we can’t to that with our cars, but the hope is to load them on the empty train and get off in Choum, from where we can continue south on paved roads.

So we drove straight to the camp only to get the visa and then back west to Nouadhibou, where we hope to load the cars the next morning. The camp was crazy! Fist of all, we had to drive a few minutes over desert sand to get there. And yes - not need to ask - I got stuck right after leaving the asphalt. Luckily, the rest to the camp was fine after we were pulled out by a friendly American and his powerful 4x4 car. We also finally saw the explanation for the sled we saw attached to the back of a car earlier on… They also brought snowboards.

After one or two hours in the camp we went on and asked around at the freight station for the train. It wasn’t for lack of trying in advance and asking around at location, but we couldn’t get transport for the next day but two days later. That’s not an option for us, as the rally goes on and we would have to play catch-up anyway. The last glimmer of hope disappeared after even our host for the night, who is a friend of the boss at the freight station couldn’t find a way.