fredag 4. februar 2011
the next morning we donated the rest of our stuff. Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, our large bug zapper - everything we did not need for the last stage to Bamako. The last stage made people take the top of their cars off - lowering the front windscreen. The airflow would be nice. No such luck with the hearse. We still have hour heater set to full heat - and even if we got to change the direction of the fan that blows hot air into the car it still gives off quite a lot of heat. As we were driving along I believe the highest temperature we measured in the car was 56C. That is hot, even in black suits.
Along the way we stopped at a gas station. Of course we got swarmed with kids that wanted gifts. We really had none - saying "Cadeaux fini" did not really work. As we were about to go off and I got into the back seat they kept pointing at a bag of trash. This mostly consisted of empty water bottles, baby-wipes, wrapping paper and such. I gave our trash to the oldest looking girl there and she took it away ripped open the bag and the rest swarmed around grabbing... Stuff. I am not sure what they found in our trash that was worth it. It was surreal. Then I made the great mistake of thinking that I could leave the rest of our trash right there. I opened the car door and put it on the ground. The car got charged by bunch of kids. Crashing into each other and the car. Ripping the bag apart. Fighting over the scraps of the white man. It was heart wrenching.
The car was falling apart as we were driving. Our center console was all but collapsed. We expected the windscreen to fail at any moment. Our cooling fan had to be turned on with a switch, but it could not be kept running as it would drain the battery. Our extra lights went out when we hit a huge pothole. The power to the gps and other electronic gizmos got caught in the breaking pedal and got cut. Our radio had lost its juice. The right tail light was taped in place after the road to the first Diema. The shocks had all but died in the Atlas mountains. The springs had given up keeping the car up and we had once again the ground clearance of a racing car. And a fine layer of dust covered everything.
The car limped into Bamako. I got up on top of the coffin. I was going to ride the car across the finish line! And I got to ride trough a lot of the detours we made trough various parts of Bamako. Heads were turned. Finally we found the finish line. The journey was finalized. We had made it. All the way. Everybody kept gratulating us for making it - we even got cigars (thank guys!). It felt great. And we could not quite believe it ourselves. We kind of expected to have to go on the next day.
Lagt inn av Mikal Gule kl. 00:30
torsdag 3. februar 2011
The next stage was not very long and went pretty smoothly. The only problem we had was with the fuel filter. We had to change it along the way. As we were just done with the fuel filter and in the process of repacking all of our stuff (of course the fuel filter was in that least accessible box of stuff at the very bottom of everything), Honky Tonk pulled up besides us. They had stayed at the official camp and Andrew (the organizer of the whole rally) had told them that the village where we were staying that night had gotten us a goat for dinner, but that we should bring some more. So we set out on a goat-quest.
A little further down the road we came across some people with a rather huge goat heard, so we all got off the road. We were immediately surrounded by kids. As the others started negotiating the price of goat I got our compressor and out one of the footballs that we had bought in Agadir. The second it was inflated it was ripped away by some kid who ran away as fast as he could with a small tail of other kids following him. The rest expected more footballs. But none were given.
It is really, really hard to give and not give gifts in Africa. It is rather horrible to feel like a huge broken gift dispenser. I try and refuse to give gifts to the ones that keep asking for them - the plan being to only give to the ones I feel like giving to. It is quite obvious that people need stuff - but giving it away only really adds to their problem.
The price for goat got settled. It got butchered there and then and carried over to our car - where we had pulled out a body bag (the body bag had came with the car). The bag was really made for humans and even if the goat fit - the bag got punctured by the goats horn. We put the bag into the coffin and drove off. Finally the coffin had gotten to be used for something it was not really meant to be used for.
We got to Diema - a small village where an english lady has (amongst other things) a schooling program. A lot of the donations from our rally went there. And all of ours. We gave away a lot of things. We had just brought too much food. And we gave away tools and cocking gear and clothes. It was a _hard_ task to get those things sorted. A bunch of kids gather closely around us. They only ran away as some police men came and chased them away with sticks. It was quite surreal.
The villagers had prepared a nice party for us. With food and music. We got attention and people were impressed that we still were in suits in the hot-hot-sun. A lot of pictures were taken. The suits were quite OK - well that is until Andrew made us dance. It was a quite forced dance - but we got applause as we threw our hats up in the air and other great party tricks. The night ended in a small party in our camp.
Lagt inn av Mikal Gule kl. 11:34
tirsdag 1. februar 2011
It was a beautiful but all too early morning - Kristian took a walk and got some nice pictures. If we had gotten up earlier we could have taken a trip on the river and watched some hippos - we prioritized sleep. Sleep gets very high prioritization on a rally like this. If the choice is to get up half an hour earlier and get some breakfast or sleep a little more - sleep trumps food.
We transformed and rolled out. Onto the bumpy thirty-something kilometer road back out of the national park. It was actually easier to navigate in the daylight - who would have thought that? At the bottom of the road we did some minimum maintenance on our car. Like changing the air-filter and checking the oil. We experienced that there were always things we needed or should check or fix. There was simply no time to do it. And often when we fixed one problem - that caused another. Like when we adjusted our throttle a little higher - this resulted in our accelerator getting stuck from time to time. The car took on more quirks and becoming more and more complicated to drive - one had to know how to manipulate all the controls in the perfect order just to keep it running.
We set out for the Senegal-Mali border. Rolling trough Africa means a lot of kids coming running towards the car shouting "cadeau" (meaning gift) - it is quite scary how deeply embedded this reflex is in the african children. Some are extremely aggressive - close to the Mali border there was a bunch that simply would not move and when we slowed down to a crawly to slowly plow trough them they started hitting our car with sticks.
Getting out of Senegal was not a problem at all. Though. I can probably not go back to Senegal on my current passport - we never got stamped out of the country. We just drove up to a rope that cut of the road. As we where debating if we should back up and find another way some guy in a uniform turned up and lowered the rope - we just drove on. As we were crossing the river we realized that we had crossed into Mali. We started laughing and saying 'Well, this was too smooth'. And yes - it was.
We got stuck in-between a lot of trucks that were waiting to get past the border control of Mali. They where obviously not expecting to cross anytime soon as many of them did vehicle maintenance - some even seemed to do an full engine overhaul. It took a while before we figured out how to get trough. Luring the car off the road and onto he side. Finding the table where we could get the customs declaration for our car. And where to get our passports stamped. The whole thing only took about two hours. It felt longer. In the heat. Not understanding the whole process.
We entered Keyes in the darkness. Stopping at a hotel that looked to be close to the camp. And we got told that the camp had moved. Nobody knew where. So we ended up staying at the hotel - that is in our car at the hotel - there was, of course, no vacancies. We entered the restaurant of the hotel. There where people there who had not seen us since before Agadir. We got a spontaneous round of applause. It felt good. It felt like it was all worth it. Team FUG let us use their shower. It was magnificent - our standards have been lowered but it was just great to stand in some hot water and get a nice shave after. Thanks a lot guys.
Me and Per decided to check out the local nightclub - it was right next by the hotel. We were going to spend the night between a nightclub and the road where quite a lot of trucks where driving. A quiet night of sleep was what we were in for. Outside the Nightclub we were greeted by "Night Club" - that is what their nice little badge said. We had to pay some money to get tickets. Then we got taken away from the entrance to what we thought was the nightclub and up some stairs - the guard (some guy in some sort of uniform) let us past. Per and I seriously wondered what we actually had paid for... But it was just entry to the more vip part of the nightclub - a place packed with the life and joy of about 5 - at least two of them guests. We had a couple beers and left the club - even tho our hostess was promising us all the hot women would come in an hour.
Lagt inn av Mikal Gule kl. 11:18
mandag 31. januar 2011
06:00 is obviously prime time for aggressive souvenir sales men and women. We were attacked as soon as we stopped the car. Aggressive aggressive aggressive. A real strain on our already strained nerves - this resulted in Per raising his voice for the first time this trip. That scared them away - for about five seconds...
We relaxed for a bit and met up with the Brits. They thought that they where hallucinating when they found 3 Norwegians in suits outside their tent. There was much rejoicing. We set out for the stage that ended in a national park.
On the road we got to experience an Senegalese hamburger. This is something that contains all that you expect from a hamburger meal and a little extra. A bun (sweet), meat, something salad-like, ketchup, fries, an egg - all in the bun. I am having a hard time to decide if I think this is an good idea or not. Being starved makes any food rather delicious. Two snickers-bars can taste like haven on earth.
The road up to the hotel in the national park was of the same kind of quality as the road we had driven towards the Senegalese border. When we asked what the road was like we got the answer 'not so good' - now we know what african-not-so-good-road is like. We had to drive it in total darkness. It was really something we had gotten used to - the hearse got up there. No problem - even tho we all agreed after 5min on the road that this was not the greatest of ideas. Siting inside the car was like being in a washing machine on a spring bad. People were quite surprised to see us at camp - shaken not stirred. A surprise that held for several days. I do believe that a lot of people had counted us out of the game.
Of course there where no vacancies at the hotel so we had to sleep in the tent on top of the car. First time since we had nearly frozen to death in the Atlas mountains. This time it was a more pleasant temperature. We got a rather short night of sleep as we had gotten into camp at 2AM and of course we needed to kick back with a few cold beers before we went to sleep - the first cold beers since Agadir.
Lagt inn av Mikal Gule kl. 02:26