…Meanwhile back at the garage in Zagora…..
My mechanic recognised the ATLAS OVERLAND badge
My truck sits with no rear wheels or springs as the upgrade gets underway
Im still at the garage watching half a dozen mechanics and apprentices whittle down to 1 or two as they struggle to get the beefed up springs fitted, I was drinking gallons of water and a plentiful supply of Moroccan tea, the chap next door invited me into his indoor bazaar whilst I was waiting, He made me more tea and waved at the vast array of silks and cloth, I have to say it was an impressive shop the only thing missing was a voluptuous woman dancing the dance of the seven veils. (that would have worked for me) He asked if Id like to buy something from him. I didn’t want anything but quite likes the curved daggers, Id seen sometimes he swiftly pulled out a wooden chest of daggers from behind the silk drapes! Not one but a dozen ornate looking daggers both straight and curved were laid out before me, all were top quality metal (my arse) and the handles were bound by pure snake skin and bone. I picked one up and bent the blade so easily it was the thickness of a set of mechanics spark plug “gauges” The blade wobbled when I swished it about, “I don’t think this would protect me from a mad arab do you”? I said to him, I just didn’tto buy anything in spite of his persuasive powers. Nice bloke and all that but I just didn’t want anything. He tried to cobble together a deal of only 2000 dirham for one straight one and one curved one, both genuine! “I think Iwould need my money for the garage bill in a few minutes dont you”? We nodded got up and strolled out of his impressive and very cool shop he followed and we sat about next door me on a plastic chair him on his haunches and poured more tea. He reminded me of that black character from the British film “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the was the one that set fire to the other guy for turning the TV over in the pub, do you remember? He was very chatty and kept pouring the very sweet tea. We were told later that the tea has Moroccan whiskey in it. I wasnt sure what to think but hey its a good ploy to get your wallet working isnt it? It was late afternoon now and I was getting very hot, I sat there in my shorts and trainers, he was wearing a full length two piece blue outfit called a Djellaba with a massive white wrap around turban.
Thats my daggerman on the extreme right outside the garage.
finally after 3 hours we were done all the jobs were finally complete. So, along with a replacement drop arm bolt on the steering and a full all round re-greasing it cost £250. It wasnt something I had thought about doing but on hindsight it was a good thing to do especially as we would shortly be driving into the Sahara, its dunes and its rocks. I would recommend it for anyone either just going into or just leaving the region, you may have come out of it unscathed but one is still over a 1000 miles from the UK. They are such a happy bunch and the garage echoes with orders and laughter. plenty of their friends kept popping in that it was just like A House of Fun.
I returned the the campsite to find everyone had gone to the pool, I climbed up on the roof and crouching rather than kneeling because the roof was too hot to the touch I unstrapped and lowered the tent to the floor the rungs of the ladder was very hot to the touch as I clambered down. I put up my tent and built the bed I worked slowly but was still sweating like a pig. It was the hottest Ive ever endured so far, I stopped and drank another two large bottle of water then cracked a “tinnie” just as the guys returned, The campsite was used a lot by European 4X4 groups, Id actually met the owner at the garage, he’d called to see how I was getting on and promised to take me to his shop in the morning. We had also been visited by a guy who would make a model of the truck for a good price, this guy I also saw at the garage later on along with the campsite owner. It seems these guys were pooling the resources to relieve us of our money! I have to say I didn’t feel ripped off or cheated, it’s just that they seemed to be declaring ownership of us from the word go.
Late afternoon sat in the shade
That night we drank water, lots of it first then hit the wine and tinnies because we would be spending an extra day here, Dave’s 110 and IONA would be at the other garage until noon the following day. Chris was telling us about a fantastic meteor storm that was due to start tonight so after tea we assembled in our chairs and waited…and waited. Nothing came! Just one huge meteor that allegedly scorched across the sky in a long streak of light. I say allegedly because it was behind me and I saw nothing of it! Chris had been feeding us little factoids throughout the trip over tea, they were interesting and amusing and sometimes just bollix! The factoid about the meteor shower for me fizzled out like a spent bloody sparkler! So at some point after midnight I turned in, I wasnt really interested in the stars and astrology so wasnt hugely disappointed at missing it. Its true what they say though the night sky looks bigger and full of things to see…..except meteors! W saw plenty of satalites and the guys kept pointing them out. Many of these hings we cannot see so clear back home, I guess light pollution has a lot to do with it?
By mid morning the next day Rob and I ferried some of the guys up to the market and to see if the two trucks would be ready for collection. We drove to the other garage and had tea, waiting for the trucks to be made ready.
Robs 90 and Dave’s 110 on the forecourt of the other garage, note another on the road minus its front axle whilst behind me sat a Land Rover chassis on stones on the pavement.
I said to one of the friendly local I wanted some car stickers, so he hopped in and I drove to “his” shop. This shop was just like the other one with fine silks and clothes hanging from everywhere, the guy started his banter about daggers and dragged a brown treasure chest from behind a screen, Oh no here we go again! “I want to buy some car stickers do you have any?” I asked, he pulled another box from under the table and produced dozens of stickers. he despatched a “yoof” to get some change, “So while he does that would you like to look at something else my friend?” and offered me a cup of sweet tea, he was all smiles and very friendly but Id got what I came from, his knives where as bad as the other guys, Im sure it was the same treasure chest full of the same crappy stuff! waving a couple of daggers he says to me “Give me your best price my friend” he says to me. “OK then I’ll give you ten dinars for the box” (that’s about £1) He mocked pain and gave me a wounded look laughingly he asked “Oh my friend are you joking”? I started laughing too then spotted the yoof dragging his heels outside the shop trying to keep out of sight waiting until Id been brow beaten into buying something else but I was digging my heels in now, Id had enough and wanted to be on my way. I shouted the yoof into the shop bought the stickers then I bid them farewell “Imshallah, thank you and better luck next time!” We all laughed, after all is was just a game.
The main road through the city was about six lanes wide and flanked by cleanliness and some tidy shops and well worth showing off. Moroccan flags lines some parts of the streets even. I can’t help thinking it had American influence, whereas the roads just behind seemed more busy with ordinary people making an ordinary living.
These were the second most important vehicle after the donkey, known as a DOKKER. They were motorbikes with the rear wheel replaced by a small back axle and a tub fitted to carry everything from veg and fruit to goats or a dozen people.
Back at the garage, IONA had been brought round from the lock-up with her new bits fitted, Dave’s 110 was about ready too. we were chatting by the busy roadside, scruffy boys tried to pester us but were ushered away by the garage, I took some photo’s up and down the street, I was watching a welder at work in a pedal bike and started to take photos but he waved me away, he didn’t want me taking his photo. We stood by the trucks, an old boy came by on a heavily laden moped just as a military vehicle cut him up and knocked him off. I rushed to his aid and picked him up, poor bugger looked pretty shook up. It took several of the others to pick up the little moped weighed down with its huge load it must have weighed a bloody ton! I said to the passenger of the truck “What are you doing you bloody idiot?”I couldnt believe he’d just waved the truck over and into the poor old guy “Youve just knocked him over you bleep bleep bleep!!” ooh I was mad! He took no notice of me though and several soldiers surrounded the old guy, a crowd quickly gathered and a policeman walked up. Dave gave me a sharp tap on the shoulder saying “It’s best we get out of here” We reversed away from the army truck and maneuvered around it, the old guy was now surrounded and jostled by the soldiers who were shouting at him they in turn were surrounded by an ever-increasing crowd of bystanders and the solitary policeman. “You fucking assholes” I shouted to nobody in particular. Once a biker always a biker I guess, two of us returned to the campsite, the rest went to the markets.
I walked to the campsite to get my I-phone, when I returned I donned a shirt and hat by the pool, the sun was so hot…that’s Chris behind me.
I know I keep saying but, it really was very hot, back home when its 30 deg’s we think it’s really hot don’t we? Well, increase that to 40 degree’s and that’s how hot it was today. I was planning to do fook all today except walk round to the pool in the hotel next door, we had been given access. Rob grabbed his towel and we took a stroll to the cool pool. It was a welcome oasis of coolness, the hotel bar was open, but they didn’t have much and by the end of the afternoon we had consumed all their soft drinks. It was nice to lounge in the pool in peace and quiet, it didn’t last long as the rest of the guys began to turn up, young Joe comes to life when there is a pool and really enjoys himself, yet he hasn’t leant to swim yet, Joe isn’t afraid of water, he loved mucking around in the water as much as any other kid does. I didn’t learn to swim either until later in life, I wasnt really attracted to it. My dad had learnt me enough not to drown but that was about the extent of my interest.
I was caught up in the twelve month-long miners strike in 1984. During this period I started swimming again, more out of boredom to begin with at the local hospital pool. Wifey No1 worked there and obtained permission for me to use it. During those terrible twelve months I was able to keep myself reasonably occupied with two or three little part-time jobs and swimming as my work life fell apart as did my marriage.
We had internet connection from the hotel so those with i-phones managed to catch up with stuff and post a couple of updates on FaceBook. Slowly but surely we were withering under the scorching afternoon sun, we spent the afternoon dipping in and out of the water. A Dutchman and his family were here too, Chris struck up a conversation with the guy it seems he was out here working and was lodging in the hotel with his family for a short holiday.
I left my mark on a storm culvert in chalk confidant someone would take a photo….It was Rob who came home with the goods!
As the “bar” had run dry of its six bottles or rare beer and twenty bottles of bloody pop we began to drift back to the camp site next door and raided our respective truck fridges for water (and beer) and sort out dinner, in fact the site owner offered to rustle up dinner for tonight Moroccan style, it was cheap enough and very good of him to offer so we sat about chatting and drinking waiting for the food to arrive. The sun had dropped enough to make dinner more civilized we even had candles. Chris had brought a candelabra..a metal candle holder which held about four or five candles. This was hundreds of years old and had travelled millions of miles with him on his adventures. It was almost revered! It was given table centre status and magnificent it looked too. Chris dug out the candles from somewhere inside IONA and lit the whole thing up, It was great until an odd think started to happen and the candles began to wilt with the heat of the evening, I told you it was bloody hot and here was the proof the pigging candles were melting in the heat…and the fooking sun had been gone for a least an hour! It was so hot my Cod Liver oil capsules had congealed into one mass, it looked like frogspawn, I had to open the top and separate them with a penknife, even the toothpaste was beginning to turn to liquid, we didn’t know it but the next few days would see the temperature soar to 60+ degrees. thats twice what we consider “fooking boiling hot” in England. I was the first to fall tonight I felt bollixed and so retired to my tent, I just stripped off and lay on it drifting off to sleep. Later on in the night Deane and Steve returned to the fold they had been in touch through out their forced absence by phone so Rob was able to RV with them at the garage then escort them to the campsite. unfortunately I was very far away with the pretty fairies in Z land so would catch up with them in the morning.
The “melting candles” incident…every few minutes someone had to gently nudge the candles upright, as Helen was doing here.
I saw the black Disco and the grey Range Rover parked against the mud wall when Id woken up, I wondered over to the guys and heard their story, it hadn’t finished either, there was to be more after the desert phase! The plan was to leave the Range Rover here for now and do the “desert bit” in the black Disco. It was the usual early morning sweat as we dropped packed and secured the tents and other equipment, we waited for the gaffer to arrive and pay up for out two nights and the great social meal last night. He was a nice bloke but I felt he thought Id let him down because he asked several times why I hadn’t visited his shop during my stay, Id been in one of the shops to buy stickers remember? Saying I didn’t want to buy anything didnt wash with the man and he asked me again! He even had someone come by and ask if we wanted models making of our trucks, “very good price” etc, he took photos and brought them the following day they were ok with the correct colours and looked kinda like a Land Rover. This guy was also seen around the garage as I waited. My model truck now sits in the living room at home.
The friendly and helpful camp owner, a great all round guy
We met our newest “bestest” friend over breakfast, it looked like it had ben badly treated and stuck to us when we showed it some attention and gave it water. Im not a huge dog lover, I don’t like to see them badly treated either and I could have quite happily brought this one home in the truck…along with the other “bestest” friends!
Pooch just wants some loving….
At around 09.30 we started the truck up and left the campsite after paying up and saying goodbye to the smiling man. We left in the direction of even greater hotness and a lunch stop at a little town called Mhamid going past Tamegroute on the way, according to the map this was a scenic route! It was all looking a bit harsh the further south we trundled, the road we were on was the only tarmac road in a hundred miles and it would peter out soon.
Steve and Deane back with us again but minus the Range Rover
En-route to Mhamid village and end of the tarmac
The road begins to run out…mind the girls on the road.
It didn’t take us long to get to Mhamid to the left and right on this fast bit of tarmac (it was empty) gave us clues as to where we were heading, in the horizon I could see yellow sand and some really worn out buildings. Slowing now as we came into the village, we pulled over at a cafe and grabbed a couple of tables, dusty wasnt the word! I saw at least 3 painted walls depicting scenes of the desert and the days camel ride it was to Timbuctoo.
50 days camel ride to Timbuctoo
I have expected to see an arab dressed like Lawrence of Arabia, that would have been funny. WE sat and watched the activity, watched a donkey pulling a cart and hadn’t given the parked vehicle enough room slowly the donkey got stuck as the cart thumped into the back of the parked vehicle, it just stood there straining! The donkeys owner appeared from a doorway, he’d left the hand brake off his donkey! He went to the back of the empty cart and heaved down which in turn lifted the little donkey of the ground, then he swung the cart round a bit and dropped the donkey back down onto the road tapping it forward and off down the road they went! I sat there laughing and shaking my head, was this a “hit and run incident?” The camera was in the truck so it’s not recorded, but I suspect it’s quite a common occurrence around these parts as nobody seemed overly concerned.
Chris discovered early on the national pastime of Morocco of ….Standing about…. I grinned every time I saw them after Chris’s factoid
Another bloke…..standing about
It was time to move on so paying for the cold pop we set off into the yellow stuff, yes the road ended here, we were now on the sand. The trick is to “drive it like its stolen” I was told! Keep the wheels turning and keep in a high gear whatever happens, with that info absorbed we followed each other into the sand dunes to play, I was behind Rob and behind me was Steve and Deane in the black Disco. Wow this was fun! turning this way and that through the soft sand was great, I could feel the speed drop off quickly and applied more gas, I flew up a dune with the foot to the floor as Rob disappeared over the lip, I was airborne on the downside and crashed into the roof of my truck my elbow smacked into something metal I remember saying keep going keep going and kept my foot down hard on the pedal, up and over the next one we roared and crashed back down again, squirming it between palms and boulders we carried on to the next group od dunes and paused to adjust the tyre pressures on all the trucks, from 40 psi we dropped to around 10 psi and set off again, this time I would ease off just before the lip of the dune. The thing is a dune is wedge-shaped owing to the way the wind work. It blows the sand up and over itself making a beautiful sloped gradient then when it lacked the strength to blow the sand any further it just stops, the downside is practically vertical, are you with me so far? Now then, I was going balls out up the slopes to the ridge when it just dropped away….only I was still going onwards and upwards ( though momentarily) in a two and half ton farm vehicle! After stopping to sort the tyres out I took my foot off the gas just before the ridge and the truck practically stopped so was able to tip over the edge nicely and gunned it on the down side easing off slightly as I hit the flat bit, turning was a bit odd too, having to turn the wheel a bit slower otherwise I would have just gone straight ahead before grip was obtained and would have put needless strain on the steering rods etc. My learning curve was as steep as some of the dunes but I was loving every minute of it. Needless to say the camera was strapped down and wedged between passenger seat and the dog guard. Before you ask no I didn’t rescue the dogs, its a metal grille between the driving area and the back tub to stop sheep and dog wandering into the front!
Steve and Deane about to let down the tyres to sand conditions
Rob and Dave also let most of the air out of the tyres and were ready to go
All too soon we left the playground and wondered back onto the track. We shook ourselves down and fixed our direction, we were following some old tracks Dave had the GPS on, Rob had his I-Pad and the map plan up and running, we waited until our heart rates slowed before moving off. I wish now I did get the camera’s out but the sand in the dunes was very powdery in like the sand at the beach and would have played havoc had it gotten inside the camera bodies.
5 minutes behind us were the dunes, ahead lay the Moon and planet Mars!
The ground began to turn now, I keep wanting to use the word “scenery” but there wasnt any grass of trees and the word seemed a bit soft to describe what were going through now. It was hot and we began to feel it now. My pee had turned luminous green a while ago, I was drinking approx 4 large bottles of water and 3 litres from my camel-back with supplements everyday now and was still peeing very little! I think everyone was gritting their teeth a bit now as the going got harsher and louder.
Rob and Dave took turns to lead, hence he is behind me in this photo.
IONA comes along nicely between the outcrop of rocks
Helen has the yellow GPS in her hand and keeps eyes on the direction.
It was getting louder too as we banged over the millions of small rocks and crashed over the ruts and slashes in the ground, driving round them was laborious sometimes, slowing down was the only thing that helped. Tiring too was staring at a fixed point on the ground ahead trying to spot things too big or too deep, occasionally I missed something and got kicked up the ass as the truck crashed through, Im glad this didn’t happen very often! We pushed on knowing our destination was about only about 30 miles away. Rob rounded a cluster of rocks and had to turn hard left, before us lay a huge chasm so big it took my breath away it was like pulling back the curtain of a fantastic painting, “Oh my fukcing God!” I blurted out” its fukcing beautiful!” Rob stopped and shouted back to me “Oi Sharpy get your camera out!” I took what I consider to be the best photo of the trip with Robs truck in front of me.
The scale of what lay before us was both breathtakingly enormous and fantastically beautiful yet it appears to be nameless on the map. We spent a while standing here, the mile wide chasm swept from front to back ending way over my shoulder as I took the photo.
OMG! Part II
Dave jumped out too and captured the magical view. Whats magical about it I think is that billions of years those huge gouges where probably carved out by huge glaciers back in The Ice Age. Mind-blowing or what people?
Dave captures the moment.
The hardest bit was climbing back into the truck and watch the narrow track as we made our way down and round the cliff edge, boulders layer and there, the armco was in our imagination only, it was a hell of a way to go, slipping over the edge to roll a thousand times, maybe doing a “Hollywood” and bursting into flames halfway down! It would take ages to reach the valley floor and eventually crash to a standstill. Concentrate boy!
After a long slow drive we were down and continued our slow twisting drive towards the North-West. The further we drove away from the line of rocky hills the harsher it got, less and less we saw features. The desert soon swallowed us up the rocks turned to small sandy hills, the track was harder to follow, Rob and Matt was keeping is true, Dave and Helen double checked with the GPS. Now and again we saw small rocky outcrops and a few leafless barely alive spindly small trees, sand and more sand, boulders and more sand and three little girls sat on a tree trunk……What?!
We pulled over in front of a wrecked white 4×4. Aha right got it, this was a lunch break and considering the few knackered trees I guess it was the perfect place to stop. The little girls were just sat there, I presume the half-dozen goats and the two adults lain under a couple of trees a hundred yards away was their Dad and Uncle, away to the left I could see some buildings aha that must be their village and judging by the few bits of discarded food and water containers this is probably where most adventurers stop for a break. WE switched off and stretched our legs and fooled around on the old wreck go only knows how long it had been here. sitting around in what shade we could find was all we felt like doing and drinking tea of course. Helen place a thermometer on a rock, it went op to 65 and off the scale, yup it was fukcing hot again! So hot in fact that I kept burning my left thigh on the hand brake, It would be playing havoc with the toothpaste and my fish oil capsules had probably melted together more than ever!
I tried a few photos of the children, they agreed but didn’t look happy at all, they weren’t like any of the other kids, they didn’t ask for anything they seemed totally disinterested in us. I guess they could have walked away to their Uncles and the goats. I have to say it felt a bit uncomfortable, we smiled and said hello but they sat there stony faced, I gave them some coins for allowing the photos to be taken I also gave then a bottle of water, Steve did the same and got the same reaction. Maybe the grown ups told them to sit there and accept gifts from 4×4 people passing through? I couldnt really see that scenario though, we saw nobody else in the desert, maybe the grown ups saw our dust cloud and were ushered to the side of the road.
The tree marked our tea stop
The wrecked 110 seems to be the place to leave your mark, Im sure Mr Moulds put one of his stickers on it and Im sure some 4×4 readers recognise it too.
Matt Rob and Chris in the shade.
The unsmiling children at the wadi
It was time to move on, tea mugs were washed out and stowed away then with a wave to the kids we set off again westwards, it still bothered me why they wouldn’t smile, with or without the camera. We soon saw their village off to our left. I could see several buildings one of which was quite big also I saw palm trees and a large clump of greenery.
The desert village
Sometime I looked at the buildings and wondered if anyone actually lived there, I saw plenty that had obviously been abandoned, they looked to be built out of mud and straw and some kind of bricks.
The landscape began to change now from planet Mars with its soft orange sand to the hard grey grit with boulders mainly small in size but bloody millions of them. We generally think of desert as orange soft sand with dunes and a palm tree or two and a wadi. But up here in the Northern Sahara just off the Atlas Mountains it’s quite rocky, gritty and hard and blandly grey in colour too. We crested a ridge at one point and stopped to look, This must be how it looks on our Moon.I could just see a grey sea of featureless that went as far as the eye could see left right and ahead, there were no sign posts, they stopped way back when the tarmac stopped. Sometimes we couldn’t make a track out instead there would be a small pile of stones maybe three or four high and daubed in white paint. Sometimes we’d split into two or three groups and might be a couple of hundred feet away from each other on a different track but roughly heading in the right direction. It would have been a different story if we were in a sand storm like some of the guys were on their last visit. For us it was a calm crossing and just keeping the lead vehicle…or its dust plume in sight..whilst looking out for obstacles was what we had to do. Steve and Deane in the black Disco lagged behind a bit now and again because they didn’t have the same tyres or vehicle as the rest of us. An advantage in a group is to all have the same vehicle then a similar performance could be expected of all. In my days on the Honda Goldwing 1800cc I helped run “appywanderers” a european touring club with my old friend Barry Walton, we knew it would be easier if everyone was on the same type of motorbikes, throw in a mix of Goldwing trikes and older slower 1500cc Goldwings and we suddenly had to think and work the group differently to accommodate, speeds and fuel consumptions all came into play. Often after several drinks on a park bench we’d ramble on about the prospects of a 1800cc only group, it would have been great to try it just the once but it never happened.
Tyre sucking sand or tyre busting rocks? Take your pick!
The noise as we carried on became mind numbing as we drove up and over and sometimes through the rocks, it sounded like kids throwing handfuls of pebbles at the truck, It was such a din! Even if the CB’s had been working OK we wouldn’t have heard “diddly squat” on them. I don’t think we did much over 20 mph it was just too damn noisy! Occasionally the ground was free enough of boulders to go a bit faster but not much. sometimes tracks forked and one would sometimes slow or stop for the truck somewhere behind to catch up and take the right track, basically one would pause if the truck behind wasnt in view, people stopped to take photos, change drivers or get more water from the rear of the truck, all the Defenders had a dog guard fitted so to get anything out of the back one would have to stop and get it via the rear door so from time to time large gaps might appear and it was that rough that there were few occasions when one could floor it and catch up. We change positions often through the afternoon as we stopped for various things water, photo change of driver, I found myself at the back for a while with Steve and Deane bouncing along just in front of me.
The Land Rover Discovery certainly performs differently to the Land Rover Defender, it was after all a totally different vehicle and a lot more modern, it leant more towards tarmac use rather than the muddy fields of the Defender. Unless it had all the necessary lift kit beefed up springs and big wheels. Suddenly Steve stops and leans out looking at the rear tyre, it was flat! I got on the phone to Rob and the others who were out of sight at the moment, they pulled over and waited as Deane and Steve got to work changing the wheel, Deane was at the wheel taking the wheel nuts off, Steve opened the bonnet to get the jack, it was a bottle jack and stowed in the engine bay, I was with Deane when we heard a lot of blasphemies and cursing as Steve juggled the jack before throwing to the floor. It was that hot it burnt his fingers, it didn’t help either that it was stowed in the hot engine bay. It was a funny moment and I laughed my head off! Its an image I wont forget in a while, I got the camera and took a few photos, as the boys now with gloves on changed the wheel, we were on the move again in about 30 minutes. The tire wall had been penetrated by the sharp rocks, he didn’t have the same tyres and so was reluctant to go as fast and so waved me by. I didnt really want to but they said they were fine, so off I went.
A derelict house on the Moon…note the tarmac road!
A village came into view in the middle of it stood a large metal communications mast we drove around it and swung out of the village ona new heading the dust was everywhere as the half-dozen or so trucks passed through, I saw just a few people down the side streets we didn’t receive the same reception as we usually did, maybe we caught everyone on the hop and passed through before they realised? We were now back driving on hard orange compacted sand with no rocks anywhere a few tyre track went roughly in our direction sometimes peeling off before rejoining our a mile or so ahead, we spread out a bit now and floored it for a mile or so. Far away to our left I saw a huge dust storm, the head of it looked just like a solid wall, I watched it a while but couldn’t determine how far away it was or if it was coming in our direction. After a few minutes we stopped for a look around. Steve and Deane werent with us, it was no surprise I guess as they had dropped back though we could still se them as we crested the small rises, therefore they could see us, or at least the dust cloud we kicked up. Rob got a phone call from Steve, they had stopped in the village unsure which fork we had taken and were at the moment stood under the communications tower. After Rob gave them directions, he siad it was just up ahead that he a photo plan in mind and so I was deposited a mile or so in the distance with the camera, Dave then raced back and got the trucks lined up, we were going to have some fun until the guys caught up with us. It was four black dust specks that began to grow in size, some headlights were on whilst some had been knocked out by the sand a dust plume grew behind, I could hear them yet they were so far away. It was like scene out of “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” only with Land Rovers and not horses!
May I present to you the 2014 version off that great X rated Spaghetti Western movie called “The Tired,The Worn-out,and The Shagged”…
……And the winner by half a length is the white 110
Rob and Matt turn of the Nav equipment for 2 minutes while they play
Chris takes the shot as son David throws IONA into a tight 360
Now Chris takes the wheel of IONA…and looking a bit stern?
The author gunning his beloved truck!
The author looking all adventurous
A great 360 shot by Dave Freeman of us waiting for the Disco
Now I could hear them as they gunned the engines, four abreast and grinning like schoolboys as they raced towards me. I started taking photos as they roared past, they split up to take turns running past me and attempting to perform doughnuts! Its was vast and devoid of obstructions that you could drive with your eyes shut for 10 minutes in any direction! Even young Joe got behind the wheel and drove around. Dave gave me my keys and I had a go zooming up and down turning this way and that it was great fun and a welcome change from the days plodding and picking. We kept looking back for signs of the black Disco, not in worry because we were in touch by phone. I was also looking for the distant sand storm but it was receding to create havoc elsewhere. “This looks like them now maybe?” someone shouted and a black dot materialized, it grew in size as it came towards us, we had parked up and waited for them, hopefully our mass was visible to them by now.
It was a few minutes before they rejoined us, They had indeed lost us at the village and contacted Rob via the phone. Im thinking the mobile phone is more important out here in southern Morocco and a cheaper option than laying power lines? Maybe they have better phone coverage than we do back home, I know from experience its pretty poor on the Western Islands of Scotland!
It was late afternoon now and those distant mountains was were we were heading for, in fact it was a point just to the side of one of them that we were heading for. It didn’t look that far away but it still took a couple of hours to get there. The town of Foum-Zguld had no perimeter or wall the tarmac and a few house just started and the next thing we knew we were on tarmac, black super smooth and a million miles wide. I thought this a was a bit over the top, who the fukc is going to be driving up and down this vast road? It had me puzzled can tell you. A bloke up ahead started waving his arms and running in our direction but we ignored him and made our way to a smaller road through some unfinished road works and disappeared a mile away into town.
The High Street in the town of Forum-Zguld….busy isnt it? Thanks to Dave for the photo.
The town looked unfinished but very clean, the red national flag of Morocco was fluttering on several flag poles, they have recently celebrated 25 yrs of their presidents rule I think and have left the flag for all to enjoy. The road was quite wide..but not half as wide as the one on the outside of town it even had pavements. This town was heading for high status!
We pulled up at the campsite, it hadn’t been used for such a long time that nobody could find the keys for the main gates which were half collapsed anyway. The boy ran around looking for the key, but we had decided we would use one of the towns two hotels instead! Dave drove off to check them out and we reversed onto the road side and waited. We got out and stood around like locals, when a couple of shop fronts suddenly began to come to life as metal doors were pulled open. Good thinking boys but were not interested today I thought to myself. Rob lit a fag and sauntered up the line of trucks, a thought had struck him and he was keen to share “Hey you know that really wide road on the outskirts of town? Well I think it was a fookin runway and that bloke waving his arms at us was the security guard for the site, I bet they are building an airport here and we have just driven down their new runway”! That caused some raised eyebrows and a bit of a giggle ran through us. Ooops! Dave came back with a thumbs up, we turned around and followed him.We got the trucks hidden away in the hotel grounds from possible light fingers and prying eyes…and that irate airport security guy!