Monday, June 16, 2008

Trek Through Africa: WESTERN SAHARA (Day 26-30)

Day 26 : Friday 18th December - Marrakech

A spare rear axle had been flown out from the UK and the lads had managed to fix it in the desert, they returned on the truck with quite a story. While out guarding the truck, Tim had fallen off the dog box and landed on a pile of wood seriously damaging his back. They got him into the truck fearing he was paralysed. The next day a large convoy was seen in the distance, soon two armed Range Rovers came speeding to the truck to investigate. They turned out to be guards to the second Prince of Saudi Arabia who was out with the whole royal party falconing in the desert. The situation was explained and the guards radioed back to the convoy which had stopped about ? a mile away. Speaking directly with the Prince, he ordered them to offer assistance. They were told that the resources of Saudi Arabia were now at their disposal. Soon a juggernaught with the Prince?s self contained field hospital came over and Tim was operated on by a team of Swiss Doctors. While this was happening the rest were allowed to wander round the +150 convoy which had by now turned into a small town. They were told that Tim would be OK but could not be moved by vehicle so a aircraft had been dispatched to pick him up and fly him back to the UK. The words "Luck Bastard" spring to mind, no-one can believe the odds of this actual happening. Because I had not done any truck guarding I offered to go with Ian and Patrick into town and the airport. Wrote a few letters while sat out in the sun, before going for dinner. Got back to the camp and we all need a good wash so we walked round to find a Turkish bath. Ended up going through a dirty Berber market, on the way Kenny got pickpocketed and my pocket was slashed at the same time. Chased them off, as usual loads of Arabs gathered into a crowd while the pickpockets were ushered off. Had a big stand off with the them until they realised they could not bottle us out. In the Turkish baths all our clothes were taken from us and hidden away, when we came out loads of things were missing. An argument developed, not getting anywhere, Mike twatted the owner and we all joined in, having one hell of a fight with the bastards. We got everything back but had to make a quick exit, jumped into a couple of clapped out taxis back to the camp. Spent the last night on the camp in the bar, then got ready to move out tomorrow,

Day 27 : Saturday 19th December - Marrakech to Atlas Mountains

Driving over the high atlas mountains, the truck is going very well. Stopped for lunch and had a game of football with some local kids. Rekki was sick all day, I spent as much time as I could in the dog box out of the way. Camped high in the mountains.

Day 28 : Sunday 20th December - Atlas Mountains to Desert Coast

Drove all day along the coast road and beach, covering 400km. Spent a lot of time in the dogbox or hanging onto the outside of the truck. Not a lot to see apart from a few shipwrecks. Made camp, then Metta said that she had lost her purse with all her money, visas and passport in it. After looking for it for ages, Ian drove the truck with a half the people on it to look for it along the road. The rest of us sat round a tiny fire getting cold as we are very low on wood. The truck returned after making a 130km round trip with her purse which was still lying in the middle of the road 65km away, another lucky bastard.

Day 29 : Monday 21st December - Desert Coast

Drove along the coast all day with zero to see. Stopped at a town called Laayoune for us to do a bit of food shopping for tomorrow. Camped about ? mile from the sea, went a walk with Mark, Metta and Metta down the clifts to the sea. Met some locals who live in a tent under the cliffs, they invited us in for mint tea, spent our time trying to talk with them in sign language. It had now gone dark, and with a new moon, not much light, they had to walk us back to the camp. They stayed a while and had a bit to eat then did the washing up.

Day 30 : Tuesday 22nd December - Desert Coast to Dakhla

Another boring drive along the coast, made lunch then tea in the dark. Giving up on trying to make cus cus. Parked with a few other overland trucks on the beach, we all need permission from the Moroccan Army before we can travel any further south into the disputed territory of Western Sahara. It is claimed by Morocco following the pull out by the Spanish in the 1970?s, but a group called the Polisario are fighting for independence. The whole area is mined and patrolled by the UN. The soldiers in this area look more professional than the jokers we have seen so far.

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