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Febuary 1-2: Smara - Dakhla - Bou Lanoar (1292km)

posted Feb 2, 2013, 3:45 PM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 1:43 PM ]
Due to various problems with the car I arrived at the camp very late yesterday (actually it was today) and did not have the energy to blog something. Most of the racing tasks have been canceled because of the proximity of the Algerian border (the day before some teams were stopped and turned back by the Algerian army), hence we had time do some shopping, have lunch (the first time that we stopped for lunch, camel meath with salad and potatoes).
After lunch I decided to go to a blacksmith again to add one more leaf to the rear springs of Baby Beast. On the way to the camp I filled up and got some poor diesel, which immediately clogged the fuel filter. The decision to push the car to the camp despite the clogged filter was a wrong one. After changing the filter today the engine did not start at all. Several mechanics from other teams tried to help but finally we had to bypass the filter and tow Baby Beast to the next town. I hope the series of breakdowns is finished now.

Today we crossed the border to Mauritania. Despite visible improvements (the computers which were there already two years ago, then still wrapped in plastic, were in use now, the procedure is still extremely inefficient, but the official people are friendlier) it took almost 4 hours to get through. The funny open restroom facing the border control post and the queues got a door in the meantime, but the group of touting mony changers and SIM card sellers is still the same. Craig has changed some money and negotiated an exchange rate of 250 instead of 230. He was very proud of his negotiation skills until he found out that the correct exchange rate is around 390 :-)

From the border we were escorted by the Mauritanian army to the camp.
The camp is in a flat sandy place, there are 4 camp fires in the middle, the cars and the tents are located in a big circle at the perimeter.
For the first time we had time to sit down while we eat and to chat with other teams. Most of the crazy cars are still alive, we met the Trabants, the VW bug, small Renault 5s and Fiat Unos, and a 40 year old fire truck.
It is much warmer today than in the last days and I am thinking about spending the night under the sky.

For the next 3 days the racing and touring routes split. Originally we wanted to do the racing route with both cars, but the organizers are so scared about many cars getting stuck in the dunes close to the Malian border that they don't allow any touring car to take the racing route. Since we share a lot of equipment between the two cars (sandboards, compressor, towing ropes, tools) we finally decided to do the touring route with both cars.

Tarmac road (canceled stage) in Western Sahara

Army convoy

Dinner. Our kitchen box is still well filled. The food we eat is constantly being replaced by sand ;-)