8th story: From Tan Tan to the Mauritanian Border (19.01.05 - 08.02.05)

Finally we are on the road again!
When we arrived in Tan Tan on January 1st we were totally depressed due to the broken bike frame. We called the bike company on January 1st and were told that it would take two to four days for the parcel to arrive. It turned out to be a total nightmare: Though the parcel did arrive in Casablanca within two days it took nearly another two weeks until it was delivered to us in Tan Tan! False information, false promises, you name it. When the parcel had finally cleared customs after a week TNT Morocco simply forwarded it by regular post service…

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We spent the time waiting talking to other tourists, most of them on their way south in camper vans. On January 4th and 5th the escort of the rally “Barcelona-Dakar” passed through. Most of them stopped right in front of our hotel in order to get some decent food, some even rented a room just to take a shower.
Luckily it was only 25km to the beach and a few times we went there by one of these very old and rusty Mercedes Benz taxis, which fit in 7 people in total.
On January 15th we got company by a Dutch couple also on bikes. Inge and Jerome are also on their way to South Africa. The two decided to take a rest day and ended up staying also a few days since there was a pretty heavy sandstorm the next two days. We had a really good time exchanging experiences and eating, we took turns cooking for each other. The two were also a real moral help in times of waiting. We hope to meet somewhere on the road again.

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The parcel with the new bike frame arrived on January 18th and we were on the road again on January 19th! After all this time the first day on the bikes was tough because the muscles were sore… The weather was still doing fine, not too warm during the day but pretty cold at night. Actually we had the feeling it got colder the further south we went. But the wind came from the back, so that after a few days we got into shape again and managed to cover quite some distances. We also had to because water and food supplies were limited. We were lucky and got some information from two other cyclists who had just finished this stretch a few weeks before us. The only available map has a scale of 1:4 million and is really no help at all. We had to carry up to 10 litres of water and quite some food, the longest distance between two supply stations, usually a gas station with a small café, was about 180km, through the dessert though. Since there are only a few people living there we got a welcomed break from kids running towards us demanding: “Donnez moi un stylo” Besides pens and sweets they also demand money, it is really annoying! If you don’t give anything they might throw stones at you, which happened twelve times to us!

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So we really enjoyed being in the dessert with its really fascinating scenery. We had great spots for camping with great sun downs. The only disadvantage in the dessert, you loose track of time and distance since most of the time it looks all a like.

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It was about 900km to Dakhla, the last real town before the border, unfortunately 40km away from the main road on the end of a peninsula. Though we despise detours we had to go there to stock up on supplies. Up to Dakhla we saw quite a few tourists in camper vans, but south from here there is hardly any traffic: Until recently you had to go in a convoy because of the West Sahara conflict. It was about 400km to the border. Since we arrived rather late at the border post we decided to stay at the border because we didn’t want to go through “no-men’s-land since there are supposed to be landmines. We found a deserted house and camped there. Unfortunately we were discovered the next morning by a border control and were given an hour to pack and cross the border…

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It’s good tarmac all the way to the border, there it ends right there and it’s piste for 4km to the Mauritanian check post.
We covered a total of 2453km in Morocco, of which were 1295km through the Sahara.

>> 8th story: Mauritania