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Old 02-01-2014, 03:29 PM   #136
mint julep
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Yes, I'm enjoying the travelogues too!

Interesting about Morocco.
Its a shame to see so much pollution around the world.

Stay safe, happy travels!

"Let the Good Times Roll!"

2012 Triumph Tiger 800 XC
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:38 AM   #137
kuhjunge OP
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Eek Aourir

We planned to stay in Aourir for 9 nights, in the end we were there for 17!

Let's start from the beginning...
It was weekend and we explored the neighborhood. We were shocked by the amount of garbage and plastic trash floating around us. It seems that people dump their trash in the field besides them and maybe they burn it or maybe not. A foul smell was often in the air either from the fumes or the rotten trash. We really had to watch out where our little girls put their noses. Fresh and old sheep heads and intestines were lying around as well as dead animals and stuff from which I did not know whether it was poison or not.

A "local guy from Switzerland" explained to it me when I observed that play of the waves carrying this huge pile of plastic bottles. Whenever there is heavy rain, the rivers bring the trash from the mountains and the trash that people dump into the dry river beds (people literally empty their truck full of trash straight into the rived beds!) get washed all the way to the sea. From there it floats out into the ocean. When there is a high tide, the tide pushes those trash piles back up the river beds. If it would not be so horrifying and smelly, I would almost call it enjoyable play to watch...

Our usual trouble on how to handle the weighing tags, if one does not use plastic bags.

Skippy got a box full of great tasting papayas.

First nights were really cold before we got the heating working.
It was Monday and time to see the vet. We explained the doctor the situation and he did not hesitate a moment with his diagnose. The best for Hertta would be to have an operation and cut away the tumors. Now Skippy had a hard time to face this fact. It is always a high risk to operate an old dog (same as an old person). Weakness of the body, side effects and after effects might be tricky. Anyway, we agreed to the operation. Hertta stayed at the doctor as the operation would be performed in a few hours. We could pick her up by 5pm.

Even we knew she was in good hands and we knew she will be back, the hotel room felt empty. Lyra felt our tension and gave us some company whereas Ulpu could not care less and only wanted to play. We could barely wait until it was time to leave the hotel for Hertta. We arrived a bit early and we were very relieved to hear her barking :)

We took Hertta back in the hotel and OMG she was high. Her eyes were all criss-cross and I can imagine in what kind of drug heaven she was right now. The same evening we realized that she was bleeding a bit and also lost some body liquid(?). It was too much for us and we called the doc. He was very kind and drove to the hotel to look after her. No life threatening emergency and the vet only changed the bandage.

The days went by and the focus was on taking care of Hertta. In the meantime I was waiting for my rear shock. DHL was very quick. Within two days the shock traveled from Netherlands to Morocco only to be stuck in customs for the next 10days! Yes, 10days!

So I went to the Wednesday market in Auorir.

Hertta was not doing too well. Her recovery from the operation was very slow. And then worst case scenario happened. Hertta was on her way to bed when all the sudden she started bleeding a lot. Her bandage was dripping in blood. We quickly moved her on plastic bag (not to mess the whole apartment) and removed the bandage. A small fountain of blood came out of her. Panic! I supplied Skippy with all the emergency kit stuff we had, run down to the reception, called the doctor and explained the situation. It was after 10pm and he accepted to come. Then I called the guard so he could give me the key to open the front-door. I was waiting downstairs with key for the front door when Skippy was upstairs trying to keep Hertta's bleeding under control. This was the longest 30 minutes we've ever had!

Anyway, the doctor came and saw the mess. He had not much with him except for some bandage. We felt really helpless. He put a new bandage and very tight. Furthermore he went back to his praxis to get some medicine and came back some 30 minutes later. Now Hertta got some Vitamin-K boost to make her blood thicker. What a night! Next morning we went to the doctor as planned not to remove stitches, but to check how the wound is now. Now more bleeding, Hertta got a new fresh bandage and some more medicine. This seemed to work. That was why we spent 17 nights in Aourir instead of 9 nights.

Pensive times for Skippy.

Skippy's great tasting couscous salad :)

Enjoying a cup of tea in the coffee besides the hotel. This time I could choose the amount of sugar I add there ;)
I also went to the Souk - centre commercial in Agadir. A few impressions from there:

Note only man who can do the changes right away

What about the shock? Well, this part of the story went like following: After calling and emailing and visiting DHL, providing all sorts of info my shock arrived to Agadir on Wednesday. I had to pay some customs and an enormous amount to DHL for some fees. This shock is becoming soon the single most expensive item on my bike. So Thursday was the day to swap the shocks again. I did not fully trust this setup now. The shock did not come as I instructed and I needed to change the position of the upper and lower mounting bolts in order to fit the shock into its position without breaking anything else.

A know picture - I am changing the rear shock :-o
Our apartment was rather dark (most likely excellent for a hot summer) and I got really depressed about being there all the time. Anyway it was time to get out and what would be better then to make a test ride with the repaired shock. I wanted to visit the Immouzer cascades and this would be a decent 150 - 200 km ride. Small streets, some off-road that would be test enough and so I started in a good mood. After some 25 km I had a small stop to admire the beautiful valley and scenery only to discover the small oil spot under my bike. WTF - oh no, the shock was leaking ... AGAIN. I though to myself this cannot be true, this shock must be cursed.

I went back to the hotel - totally depressed. Skippy saw my face when I came into the room and there was no needs for any words. She knew what happened. This called for some comfort food and a nice cup of coffee. For the second time on this day, I swapped the shocks and put the basic-spare back. On Friday, I went to Agadir to do the shopping and searched for this one motorbike shop, which I found from the HUBB.

Mondial Best Moto
Lahcen ID Jelloul
Reparation Motocycle
29, Av. Hj Lahbib Lot. Marins Pecheurs les Amicales

Tel: 05 28 21 70 76
GSM: 06 61 28 53 50

N 30°25.647'
W 009°34.734'

The shop owner was not there but he was supposed to call me later to tell whether it can be fixed by tomorrow (oh yeah, we had enough of the place and needed to get back on the road again!) and how much it would cost. I learned already that people do not call and so I went after my shopping back to the shop. The owner told me that he will check and call me by 5pm. Of course nothing happened so I called him a bit later and he told me that he cannot fix it. Ok, I thought for myself, it would have been nice...

Motorbike repair shop - another try to fix the rear shock for the sidecar.

Wolfi - the keymaster - got once more the key to the hotel to lock the door after we had our evening walk with girls.
This door business was something we did not understand. The front door got locked in the evening around 9pm. Anyone wanting to move in or out was required to call the night guard. The guard might appear within 5minutes to open the door. And what if there is a fire or the night guard is gone?

Next morning we went to the vet to remove the stitches from Hertta. Skippy was a little shocked about the way how he did it (using scalpel knife towards the skin!!!), anyway it went ok and Hertta was much better now. She just needed to continue the vitamin K-shots for few more days and finally got drops for her eyes, which couldn't be treated same time with the antibiotics. Then we went to the bike shop to get my broken shock back.

Gottcha - Hertta has been licking her wound (disinfection stuff was blue).
Surprise, the repair shop folks started to fix it. I was really happy. It certainly was a western European price not Moroccan one! We went back to the hotel with Hertta and I returned to the shop later to pick-up my shock. It was impossible with my poor French to figure out what exactly was broken, anyway it was not the connection pipe to the oil reservoir as I thought originally. So, I changed the shock at the bike shop and we needed to adjust the symmetry a little bit to fit the shock in perfectly. Voila (and if you think this story really ends here... just wait ).

I rode back to the hotel with a little detour to see that this repaired repaired shock is now ok. It looked all fine. I wanted to put my bike into the garage only to realize that the owner changed the key lock of the gate. Good one! One more night, I had enough and did not really care anymore. I just wanted to get out of here. Next morning we rode towards south and for the first time in Morocco without a booking for the next night.

And about our driving licenses, they did not come by the time we left. So this story is to be continued as well...

We also made a travelogue from Aourir. Enjoy!

Click here to watch the video (full HD will come once we get a fast internet connection).

~ Wolfi
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:54 AM   #138
blah blah blah
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Glad to hear the Hertta is doing better, I hope her recovery continues smoothly.

Real bummer about the shock, interested to see what is next with it.

The market photos are incredible, really excellent! Keep it up guys!
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:58 AM   #139
Merlin III
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Ah, now I understand why the videos are so well made and edited.
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:00 AM   #140
kuhjunge OP
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Wicked thanks

Hertta is doing just fine - barking as usual

Yep - Skippy is a perfectionist
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Old 02-14-2014, 12:59 AM   #141
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Hey, whats happen, I start worring about you. Wheer are you, do the dogs doing fine?
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:04 AM   #142
kuhjunge OP
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Cool2 no worries

We just a bit the flu and in addition no internet and later no electricity. The next blog entry is almost ready
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:36 AM   #143
kuhjunge OP
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Eek South Morocco and West Sahara with travelogue #7

It was a lovely Sunday when we rode off from Aourir. This unexpected delay of Hertta's operation caused that we felt like being a little bit in a rush to get in and out of Mauritania because our visa for Mauritania would expire soon. That also meant we skipped the rest of Morocco, decided to take the big road and get some km done within the next days. The road was mostly rather boring. We had our first break and wanted to leave, when I noticed that the nut from the rear axle of Skippy's bike was missing! Panic! OMG - Skippy did not notice anything and we had one short curvy piece with drops of few hundred meters into the valley! Skippy had some nightmares the following nights.

Pussy Ride with missing nut.
I took the axle with me when I rode back some 20 km to the previous village. I found a local shop and explained the issue. The guy took out 3 old cut open engine canisters full of screws, nuts and bolts. Let's search... Luckily we found a fitting bolt after a few minutes. Now we needed a big washer. We found one but it needed some work so that it could fit in the Suzi swing. The guy wanted 20 dhs (1,80 EUR) - I think the Suzuki part would have been much more. Some 30 minutes later I was back at our break place. Bolt fixed - no harm done.

Happy shop owner and friend.
We stopped at the first hotel in Guelmim and they did not allow dogs. I remembered that we did book once a place nearby Guelmim and we went towards there. By now it was already getting dark. The place was pitch-black. The next Auberge did not allow dogs either, the next was full but there would be one on the other end of the village. The streets in the village were horrible with some soft sand, so I asked Skippy to wait along the main road until I found this next place. The place looked quite decent and I went back to get Skippy. She told that her bike won't start :(

And once more, we needed to jump-start her bike. About 3 minutes later we continued since the cables and connectors were ready this time.

Peaceful auberge in a sleepy village.

Skippy on her way to breakfast

The other tent for eating, smoking, discussing...

Beautiful indoor wall-paintings.

It was amazingly clean around this place.

Really nasty looking thorns.

Saying goodbye to the German-speaking owner (and his uncle).
The next days were like this. Hit the road and drive 100km/h until next stop or hotel. The big washer at the Suzi's rear axle was only a band-aid because it made adjusting the chain impossible. So we went to some local black-smith who made a copy of the metal plate which is required for adjusting the chain. Our next stop was in the next bigger village to buy some food and as an usual routine I checked my rear shock.

At the local smithy.

The crowd of little monsters keeps now some distance after calling for some discipline
It was all wet and there was hanging one drop of oil. This bloody shock! I needed some help to call the repair guy in Agadir. The boy from the shop called his English-speaking brother to come over. He was so kind to call the fellow who fixed my shock in Agadir. The repair guy told him that of course I could send the shock back to him, he will fix it and send it somewhere along our route in Western-Sahara. This did not sound fine to me and I decided that it must have been a little bit of oil which was left hidden somewhere during assembly and which came now out.

We decided to ride on. Suddenly Skippy heard some funny noises and we saw that the chain protector started to have it's own life. That was easy to fix since I have a few spare screws with me.

Skippy's bike with a missing screw, again...

We are on the right track - staying at Hotel Paris-Dakar.

Our bikes were safely parked in front of the hotel. The owner suggested to drive the Suzi inside the hallway.

Room service, please?

Beautiful cliffs (with the usual amount of plastic around it).

Camels - amazing creatures.

No hurry whatsoever when crossing the street!

There was the whole herd.

Protected from the sandy wind and burning sun.
We stayed one night in Boujdour where we made the worst experiences of Morocco. Besides the usual dirt and shit around the city, the kids were the most annoying we have met so far! I can understand they beg for money and candy, but what made it really bad was that they throw some stones after us and the dogs. One of those stones was so big that it could hurt at least Ulpu seriously! Skippy shouted some bad words in Finnish and that seemed to help for a moment until we were out of their reach.

Again a walk through the shit-park.

Plenty of rotten trailers and trucks.

Plenty of old stuff here as well.

Evening snack - a bag of olives for 50 cents (Euro).

One can see from the flag that we had strong winds!
We made good progress and decided to camp wild after Boujdour. It would make our next day's ride and the border crossing a bit easier.

Good enough spot for camping wild.

Strange looking stones with plenty of holes. Appears to be that smaller and harder sand pieces caused some erosion.

Amazing flowers in the Sahara. The body is filled with liquid.

One annoying element were the constant control points from customs and various police forces. They always asked for a fish (fiche in french). Fiche fiche - no fiche, only passport. They took then the passports to write some key data of us in their log book. Once I needed to write it myself and the other time, I went into the station to provide the info. This became really annoying and time consuming. By 5-6 stops per day and each took about 10min, we lost easily one entire hour! All the way throughout Morocco they waved us through and checked only locals. After Guelmim, we were constantly stopped and the locals got through without being stopped.

We stopped at about the last place of civilization before the Mauritanian border - Complexe Barbas. I bought the vehicle insurances for Mauritania and some fruits. We also had a quick Skype-call with our real-estate agent back in Finland (we finally got our house rented, what a relief!) and got an email from the hotel owner in Aourir that our international driving licenses finally arrived...

By 17 o'clock we were at the border station and some 30 minutes later the gate opened to no-mans-land between Morocco and Mauritania.

And Skippy keeps on making travelogues. Enjoy this one - click here (the HD version will come once we have a decent internet connection).

~ Wolfi
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:08 PM   #144
Merlin III
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"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 03-01-2014, 08:37 AM   #145
kuhjunge OP
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Cool2 Mauritania

Hell broke loose the moment we left Morocco and entered no-mans-land. Demolished, burned, rusty and disassembled car wrecks and parts were on both sides – it looked like in war movies. There were no street only trails and even that is a compliment. There are still many land-mines in this area and according to some locals, officials cleaned some 5 km north and south of that trail collection (I heard later that some years back it was already suicidal to leave the marked trail by even a few meters).

Some of those trails have deep soft sand and of course we took one of those. First Skippy tossed over with the bike. Luckily nothing bad happened. Then we decided to swap bikes. Promptly I drove the Suzi into deep soft sand. With a little bit of anger, we got the Suzi easily out by ourselves. Then it was time for the sidecar and we swapped again for this spot. OMG – I buried the back-wheel hopelessly into the sand.

It was getting dark and the human vultures came to sneak up on us, in other words a great opportunity for local workers to "help". The sidecar was really stuck and since I did not have rods with me the winch was of no help. I started to dig out the shovel when a crowd of vultures surrounded us. The choice was either digging and me sweating or paying?

We settled from 100 EUR down to 40EUR and they worked hard for that money! Good so ;) The sidecar got stuck another time and the guys needed again to push and pull. Finally we were on some hard ground. At that moment I wished I had a light hack with 2WD or 3WD and off-road tyres.

One bandit gave the other one the hand and some guy in a 4x4 told us with heavy gestures that he will take us to the Mauritania border and take care of things there for us. Of course I knew there was a fee attached. We arrived at the Mauritania side around 19 o'clock, it was dark and the guy pushed us in a fast forward mode through the different control stations. I had to be present once in a while and I saw that he gave some money to the officer.

Later I read (again) that the white A4 paper costed anyway 10 EUR and the guy at the police station expected potentially a gift. In the end the fixer wanted 2x40 EUR and I was able to deal him down to 50 EUR. Since I really believe that the border was already halfways closed and we had this great speed, the price was maybe ok-ish in the end and yet it was a rip-off. The last barrier opened and it was pitch black when we entered Mauritania.

We did then what everybody said DO NOT DO! Riding in total darkness in Mauritania. We already passed through a police control and as easy as this goes in the day-time, the more spooky it was now. It was windy and sand flying all around. Occasionally the street was half-ways covered with small dunes and so we shared the remaining space with the other vehicles on the road. Passing was a huge risk and therefore we stayed mostly behind trucks.

We had a choice to go to Nouadhibou where we certainly find a hotel or we ride towards Nouakchott with the risk that there will not be a hotel on the way. We decided against riding 45+ km to Nouadhibou and back the next morning, instead we took our chances. The next "city" was Bou Lanouar some 40 km away and I felt extremely uncomfortable.

No hotel neither a filling station marked on my map and the city presented itself in pretty much complete darkness. I only saw a shimmer of houses in the moonlight and stars. Then in the near distance I saw many lights along the street and besides me was a sign warning of land mines. I hoped this would be a hotel but the lights came only from the various boutiques. Anyway, I asked if there is a hotel in the city and to our relief the guy said yes.

He even offered to drive ahead with his car to show us the way. I already got horribly suspicious about another guy asking for some fee, but then he was a nice person who really wanted to help. If you ever read this: Thank you!!! There were no lights and no signs at the street. Most likely we would have passed the hotel and continued to wander around.

Our first hotel in Mauritania - no way to find this in darkness.

Extension cable - Mauritania style

Getting ready to leave. Ulpu escaping and we got a new friend.

The view from the hotel towards south

and towards north.
The owner had a room for us and dogs were ok. That sounded promising even though the price was pretty high. We were both dead tired and were happy to find a safe shelter for the night. The owner asked us to move the bikes into the inner yard so the night guard could watch them. There was no road and only very dim light. The owner only seemed to know that his pick-up could drive anywhere and so it happened as it must happen... I got the sidecar stuck in the deep loose sand again! I was pissed and yet too exhausted to express my emotions.

We already knew the drill. Skippy rode the sidecar and I was pulling. As we learned that earlier in no-mans-land, pulling the sidecar is much more effective then pushing. Due to its asymmetry one cannot steer when pushing whereas when I pull I can give it also direction. Forget the front steering – absolute useless in deep sand. With a smelling clutch and almost getting the bikes stuck again in deep sand a little later I managed to park both bikes in the back-yard.

Next morning – sunshine and man, we were in the middle of nowhere! Did not miss a thing during our night ride. At least now I could see where the hard surface was and so I had little trouble to get the bikes going and off we went for another day on straight roads.

Another break and we noticed...

that the ground appears to be old sea bottom .

Remains of a goat/sheep with stomach full of plastic! :(
A few hours later we arrived in Nouakchott at Auberge Sahara and got us a nice and spacious room. We did not get much sleep as some Hungarian folks riding on the rally Budapest-Bamako entered the building and made hell of a noise. On our last day, this group had grown even more and basically occupied the entire outer space. The auberge was a good place to meet other overlanders and winter-refugees and getting some useful hints and tips.

We got our visa for Senegal without any trouble within the same day. The embassy was closed on Fridays and Saturdays, but then open on Sundays. Who will understand this! Anyway this meant for us we had one free day :) since we got our visa on Sunday.

Emergency dinner at our first night in Noukachott - fries & salad. Also Skippy's birthday, that's why she doesn't look too happy...

Skippy relaxing in the shade.

Typical "truck" - donkey with carriage.

Goats in the streets - they often followed us, seem to like our girls :)

A very typical picture.

Evening walk to the sushi restaurant, where Skippy finally had her "birthday dinner" :)

Wolfi used the free day to get a holder made for the helmet camera's main unit.

More goats on the way to downtown

Trucks waiting to bring cargo to customers.

One of the many "grand taxis" - this is only good for day rides ;)

Entire streets were converted into junk yards - what a filth!
We left Nouakchott on another hot day. I tried to get the brown insurance card for the bikes but had no luck. So we tried one hint I found from the Hubb – Tammin. When I went there, they told me that they do not do that any longer. So much for that.

It took us quite some time to get out of Nouakchott and our first attempt to get fuel did not work out. No essence here only gasoil. Ok, next filling station then. After some 100km the road became worse and we had to circle around many potholes. At the same time we got really happy since we started to see trees (after some 2000+ km of desert a tree is admirable)! I though I managed to escape one pothole in particular when I heard a loud bang and my sitting position was strangely different. Greetings from my rear shock. This time, the pre-loader had said goodbye.

Lucky for us, we had now trees besides the street and I rode under one to start changing shocks... again. Many locals passed by honking their horns to warn me that they are coming. Suddenly a big bike went bike – a KTM, stopped and came back :) Another overlander from Austria – bonne route my friend! I was finished and we were good to go when a local truck driver stopped and asked if we needed some help. At last – not all hope was gone.

We lost quite some time and it seemed that we are not able to reach Diama in time. At this last kilometers in Mauritania, one police man asked for a 10 EUR gift. I denied, he said ok and we continued. At another stop the police man gave a name and a number - “call this guy, he will help you to get over the border”. Sure and thank you.

Well, the guy was waiting for us at the exit towards the road to Diama. Some other rally truck was there as well waiting and the two of us were supposed to follow him to stay overnight at his place since the border would be closing any minute now. Sounded ok on the first hand. Some 12 km later the rally guys pulled over. Their friend told them the border was open until 22 and they wanted to push their luck. It was getting slowly dark and after some minutes of thinking we decided to go with them as much as we can and camp somewhere along the way (as we originally planned).

Then this guy came again. He saw business running off and asked whether we have insurance. The rally guys did have and we did not have. He said, that you cannot buy an insurance on the border of Diama. Nice try! A guy who drives a car without a license plate and gets his customers from a police man. The rally guys called their friend again and they took off. We followed them and it felt the right thing to do. When looking back, I need to say and admit that I need to listen much more to my gut feelings. In hindsight, those were good choices when I followed and “learnings” when I did not follow it ;)

The paving of the street was brand-new and we could ride with 100km/h – no potholes! It was getting now seriously dark and we wanted to find a place to sleep. We used the rest of the day light to find a decent spot. It was ok except for those nasty little stingy balls and thorns everywhere on the ground. They would pinch a hundred holes into our tent floor! Time for the hammocks and the first official duty of my winch was to hold Skippy's hammock

First night in the hammocks. Wolfi sleeping with Lyra and Ulpu.
The night was really cold, I was not able to sleep at all even though when I took Lyra and Ulpu with me into the hammock. Well, at least girls were warm. The next morning was again a bright day and we headed towards Diama. Bad for us, the excellent asphalt road ended pretty soon and for the next 80 km it was a terrible sand road for me and rather ok for Skippy. We swapped bikes once more in the beginning of this street (because of the soft sand) for a short time until Skippy felt ok with the street. However... my poor sidecar – I really got worried things would fall apart! It was really hot and the motor temperature was almost in the red area.

The landscape changed and we saw lakes(!), haven't seen those for a long time. Besides the cows and wild hogs that crossed our way, we also saw many kinds of birds. We paid the entrance fee to the national park and a few kilometers later we finally arrived at the border station at Diama.

A few thoughts in hindsight:

On a positive note, there were not much plastic bags polluting the environment. As we heard later, the government forbid those brown bags some time ago. Therefore the amount of empty plastic water bottles were huge - beyond imagination!

As soon as we stopped somewhere kids came and started begging for gifts and money as well as old people begged for money. Yes, we read about this, however it was another thing to experience this. At some point it became annoying and I needed to remind myself to stay calm.

People asked us several times whether we have our dogs with us for eating. First I thought this was a joke or a misunderstanding due to my poor French language skills. Obviously when one has more then one dog, the dogs are considered as livestock and then it fits their own pattern - to carry their livestock for eating during a long journey. Who really knows..?

Skippy made another travelogue. Enjoy number eight (Since we still have limited internet it might take some time before we can upload the HD version).

~ Wolfi
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:54 PM   #146
Merlin III
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Some people choose to set their tent up ( without the fly) in their motel room and sleep in it because of the insects and mice running around in the room at night.

Looking forward to your next post.
"I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure about anything." Richard Feynman, Cal Tech Scientist
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:41 AM   #147
kuhjunge OP
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Eek tent inside room

Yeah - we thought of that as well, but then we hoped we will manage that night which we typically did not. A budget room is also not that spacious to build our small family tent there and be able to move within the room (says Skippy ). After that experience we insist on a mosquito net and so far we always got one.
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Old 03-04-2014, 04:20 AM   #148
Joined: Apr 2013
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Continuing to enjoy your RR! You both are very courageous and resourceful. I like how you report all you see and experience, the good the bad the ugly and the beautiful. I find it is ALL these things that make travel interesting and exciting. Good luck on the next stage of your journey! Please feel free to visit and stay with me when you get to the USA.
"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company". Mark Twain
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:17 AM   #149
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Joined: Aug 2011
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Oddometer: 489
Cool2 thanks

for your kind words and your invitation. Yes, we want to tell what we experience and all of it. It would become artificial for us if we would only tell the good or the negative things.
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:57 AM   #150
kuhjunge OP
3wheel enthusiast
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Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Earth
Oddometer: 489
Cool2 Senegal

The border-crossing to Senegal was easy. Border police, normal police and customs. Everybody was holding their hands open and asking for an administration fee. They were pretty sharp with that thus not asking for a gift, but seriously demanding the payment without receipt. First I was very unwilling to pay and then I demanded a receipt. No luck. Then it was time to get our carnets stamped and I went to customs office.

The guy in the jogging outfit wanted to have a small-talk and too bad that I was too tired and in no mood for small-talk as it turned out that this guy was the boss, not the guy in the uniform! Inside the office the boss had “no competence” to stamp our carnets. Instead we got "passavants" and needed to be within five days in Dakar to get our carnets stamped. Damn! The whole crossing costed us 35 EUR/bike and we bought a 6 month insurance (brown card) for 90 EUR/bike (would have been cheaper in St. Louis).

We entered Senegal and smooth asphalt road was waiting for us. What a delight! Shortly after the border we had a small break. There was a lake! There were trees with green leaves. It looked first like a paradise and we took a deep breath. The joyful moment did not last too long. A closer look at the place revealed trash everywhere and we became really doubtful about what all was there in the water.

Goats came to feast on our banana left-overs and Skippy had to made them clear they needed to wait until we were gone :)

We went to 7palava camping place near St. Louis. The place is rather isolated and a good place if you seek some solitude. Lucky for us we were the only guests besides one other German guy – Alexander who planned to ride his bicycle to South Africa.

My flu entered the next stage and I got really sick. During the day the temperature rose to +38C in shade and the meter in the sun was +55C at its maximum. In this heat I could not do much of anything. Going shopping was consuming all my energy. We needed to find a solution on what to do with the carnets.

The ocean conquered the land, one other camping place and the rest what was there.

Cool birds.

Skippy - relaxing with a view :)

Wildlife at the camping place.

Skippy loves birds!

First things first. On Sunday I was feeling better and I used my energy to check the needle bearings of the rear swing and the axle drive. When I changed the rear shock in Mauritania, I realized they had some tolerance. Sven (the owner of the camping place) gave me a hand and borrowed his hot air pistol (as it would have not been hot enough already) and I got those bearings adjusted. One issue less to worry about.

Obviously some people before us had the same problem with the carnets and they applied for some extension in St. Louis and got it. We could only do that on Monday with the risk that they denied the extension and then we would be in a hurry to ride to Dakar. Since I felt a bit better on Sunday evening, we decided to move on. I found a hotel at Lac Rose some 35 km outside of Dakar. Hotels in Dakar were too expensive and as I told earlier camping and leaving dogs alone in the tent during those hot days was not an option!

The road was quite ok. Plenty of small villages with even more speed bumps. We arrived at the hotel, checked-in and I continued instantly to the customs office in Dakar. I found it easily and started my next round of paper hassling.

Hotel Tool Bi and somewhere here is the Finish line of the old Paris-Dakar rally.
Some sweet girl came to me and asked me for my papers so she can take care of it. Of course another agent and there will be a fee attached to it. I thought how much can it be and I started mentally to prepare for bargaining already. I followed her on each step she did there and we ran from one office to the next until one hour later I had the carnets stamped.

I told her thank you very much, have a nice day and went to my bike. I was just about to put my helmet on when she came and said that this service costs ;) I played innocent and shared my impression that this service was for free to help the poor officers in the customs and not have to deal with the tourists ;) Ok, it did not work. We settled for 8 EUR – half of what she asked originally. She was happy and me too.

For all who need their carnet stamped in Dakar, here is a hint. Enter the customs building, go to the second corridor on the same level (15m), turn right and after some 20m right again. There you will find some kind of inner yard/waiting area. There I got our carnets stamped. Everything before this is just checking and checking the checking the checking and so on ... you get the picture (with another fiche i.e., paper called “Fiche de circulation”). Good luck!

After that experience I returned to the hotel and fell dead tired to bed. Later on I learned that just in front of our hotel was the Finish-line of the famous rally Paris-Dakar. Yeah we made it !!! That explained also why there were soooo many hotels in that area and why almost all of them looked like ghost hotels.

From Wikipedia: “Lake Retba or Lac Rose (meaning Pink lake) lies north of the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, north east of Dakar., in northwest Africa.

It is so named for its pink waters, caused by Dunaliella salina algae in the water that produce a red pigment that uses sunlight to create more energy, turning the waters pink. The color is particularly visible during the dry season. The lake is also known for its high salt content, which, like that of the Dead Sea, allows people to float easily. The lake also has a small salt collecting industry and was often the finishing point of the Dakar Rally, before it moved to South America in 2009.

The horror with the trash continued for us. It was everywhere in the surroundings and it was not possible to ignore the trash. What kept us somewhat going was the fact that we got fresh and delicious fruits. I was still pretty sick and we extended our stay for a few days until I felt ok again. Those rides to Dakar downtown in this heat, dust and smog were certainly not helping the healing process. We were wondering how the locals can live in this environment. Apparently it does not bother them a bit. How beautiful those countries would be with some waste management in place!

On one of those rides to the city I saw suddenly bright lights behind me and was wondering who local can afford such bright lights? Well, it was a guy from the UK on his way back to the hotel. I waved hello and continued. I was dead tired, could barely breath and swallow after all that smog. The next day he came to our hotel searching for us (he was faster then me ;) ), we had a good chat and I agreed to visit the gang the following afternoon. Those guys (2 Brits and 2 Italians) had a funny story of finding each other on the way to South Africa. Have a good ride and safe travel. Maybe we meet again on the way down.

Rode and found each other.

Two Italians on one bike on their way to South Africa.

One of the other amazing thing in Senegal were plenty of beautiful ladies in even more stunning outfits. For us western people, those dresses would clearly belong to the either party or special occasion category.

And then I decided to have a walk with the camera in the neighborhood.

Just outside the hotel, the first sales girl Aua(?) approached me...

followed by Aisha.

Vultures at Lac Rose.

Strange foam - natural or pollution?

Boys are having fun.

Spooky hawks and we were worried about our little girls.

Skippy and me discussed where to go next. Originally (very very first plans) we wanted to go to Mali and Burkina Faso but changed that plan due to the civil war activities in Mali. Instead we wanted to go through Guinea and Ivory Coast. Now when it was time to get the visa and we had a closer look at the map, we realized that long passages of the major roads would be gravel roads (meaning we would share the dust with all those trucks) and the no-mans-land between Guinea and Ivory Coast was to our knowledge some 20 km long (Morocco-Mauritania was still fresh in our memories). The level of corruption was supposed to be higher in Guinea compared to Senegal and even higher in Ivory Coast.

On the other hand other travelers went to Mali and the corruption level should be lower compared to Senegal. Other travelers reported that Burkina Faso would be one of the hidden jewels in Africa. We changed our plans and we took a visa to Mali and if that would work out fine, we would continue to BF.

We left Lac Rose and for some reason the traffic during the first kilometers felt really bad and costed us a lot of nerves. We had barely moved and I was already done to call it a day. Somewhat later the street opened up and we rode the N3 (missed the turn to the N1 due to this traffic) to Kaolack to find an accommodation. The first one was fully booked, the second did not take dogs and finally we ended up in the Maison des Œuvres – a missionary station. Well, it did the job, the bikes were parked safely and we got some rest.

The next morning was again attraction day. After we bought some fruit we went to the filling station and became the attraction. It was one of the “worst” human crowds I had experienced so far! All five of us were so happy to get out of there. This was most likely the closest encounter to how zoo animals must feel like!

Nightmare for us - we could hardly breath not even thinking of moving!

The road to Tambacounda was full of potholes and this mandatory slaloming brought a little bit of distraction of the otherwise monotonous road. Well either that or tiny tiny gravel trails. After some search we found an auberge for a decent price. Good enough for one night. The Niakolo National Park was on our explorer list. We rode the 70 km asphalt & pothole road to the only hotel my GPS could identify. Well, the hotel was there, it looked nice and peaceful but the price was ridiculously high. Either we took a double room or camping with mandatory dinner, so either way the costs would have been nearly the same! We turned back, rode via Tambacounda and Bala to Kidira at the Senegal-Mali border.

Baobab tree and bus stop.

When one stops at a bus stop people will come and look at you.

Break with privacy - that's the way we prefer it.

Stunning baobab trees.

The road was a disaster and required regularly full breaks to avoid potholes. The city announced itself by the endless queue of trucks on both sides of the street sometimes only leaving one driving left lane to squeeze through. The city was shitty as hell and it took us some time to find the only hotel in town.

Shitty ways at Kidira market.

Just outside the hotel.

TV and electronics disposal - the Senegal way.

Many houses in the state of "building in progress and forgotten"

We were really exhausted and stayed there for two nights to get some rest and recharge our batteries. The first night was again without mosquito net and thus we did not get much sleep. Skippy suffered a lot from this. Fresh and different blood is always better then the old known one ;) After we finally got a net for the following night we got some sleep between the moments when the disco music stopped and the muezzin was calling in the morning. And then off to Mali.

Skippy made this time two travelogues. Enjoy number nine and ten.

~ Wolfi
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