Speeding in the desert – 31st January – Near the Moroccan border

We leave early in the morning, the plan is to work the day delay off and reach the Moroccan border. This means that we need to drive 900 km in the desert. Fortunately there’s a concrete road all the way across it, but there are many villages and goats on and next to it. A quick check in the morning tells us the final result for the day: 1138 km. Most probably Gyula will drive all way on his own. Tuti is still not well, he’s resting in the back. In final need Soma and Aravind can drive the bus too.

In the morning Gyula goes at a crazy speed, the engine is spinning, and we break the African record: the GPS showed 87.2 kmph. Two minor breakdowns slowed us down, but both of them were fixed in 10 minutes by Soma and Gyula.

Proceeding Northwest semi desert takes over the savannah, then comes the red desert with its sand dunes. The team is much more relaxed than on the way down to Bamako. Maybe because we are fewer and we know the route and the roads. I thought it was to be more difficult to get accustomed to the roads again after 2 days off, but it’s ok.

We took a policeman on board he accompanied us until Nouakchott. He doesn’t speak much, he put on his black turban and he’s sleeping. We tried to exchange his policeman badge, but he didn’t give it. Usually we take the hitchhiking soldiers on board, they have their separate reserved places on the bus. They eat our food suspiciously, although we pay attention not to give pork for them. The Moroccan soldiers are the masters of sleeping in sitting position. They fall asleep in 2 minutes in any position, a lot can be learnt from them.

We reach Nouakchott by the evening traffic jam, causing a big stir with the bendy bus. We get lost a bit, and get stuck between a donkey carriage and a broken down lorry. A policeman comes and leads and makes the way for us. Slowly we reach our destination, the Mercure hotel, where we will steal wifi from.


Lap of honour - 29th January

After approx. zero minutes of sleep we manage to get on the bus and kick off towards home. According to plans we’ll get home on 8 Feb sometime in the afternoon. A tense tempo, with a day off in Marrakesh. We can make it.

From the morning drive I only remember that we stopped once to change drivers and we were literally attacked by 300 kids. I woke up and saw team number 1’s flipped car. They wanted to go around a goat, brake and pulling turning the wheel in the same time, and only the well prepares car saved them. They can be delivered only in a lying position. We had to go for 5 km before we could turn back and head back to Bamako. Right 2 days after the same guard shouted at us that we can’t park in front of the hotel by our bus, is shouting at us again. We shout louder. The ambulance takes the 2 guys; hopefully they don’t have any serious injuries. I wouldn’t mind staying in Bamako that day; Mali plays against Ivory Coast that day in the Africa Cup. But according to plans we leave after half an hour of break.

Bamako 2.0

Some of the participants are waiting for their plane in the hotel hall. This is one of the most difficult part of the rally for them, as one Andrea Bocelli like song is on on repeat item mode volume full on. There are new buyers for the bus, calls are made, boss is coming with the money. We skip the deal of our life and try to get out of Bamako. Soma mends the Norwegians’ hifi, and we finally have music. It’s a very stubborn sound system, it’s willing to play only one song from the USB, which is the Polar Bear Theme Song. It’s a very good animation film song, but gets boring after the 40th time. We manage to get some Norwegian metal and some folk music on as well. Silence, please!

We manage to reach the Mali border by the evening. Everything is faster on the way back. Aravind doesn’t even have to help in filling out the papers. A dude gets on the bus and shows us where the petrol station is. Next to a completely dark road in the middle of nowhere there are two manual pumps. Assistant nowhere. The dude goes for the petrol station guy, and after 20 minutes he comes back with two other guys, one of them holding an extremely dirty milk can. We want to fill up a 200 liter tank with this. We give them two 20 liter containers, and they don’t get it in the beginning why they need two for. Gyula and Soma are filling the tank, while the guys are pumping one after the other. They overload each and every containers, while two if the three of them smokes. We finish in half an hour.

We reach Mauritania, Gyula drives, the others sleep. In the night a guy gets on and shows how we ca get around Kiffa. Then the bus stops.

The last stage – 27th January

Next morning we leave for Bamako. A brand new motorway before the town, proudly announcing it was made from EU donations. We reach the town and we head towards the final destination, a hotel.

Apparently Bamako’s air is very polluted. The town can be entered from the North, and the road leads there from a hill. From there nothing can be seen from the town, it’s just a huge smoke cloud. Although when we get out of the car we breathe in and find the air fresh and nice. After breathing dust in and smell the gasoline for two weeks it really is.

Bamako by night

We reach the final destination, the hotel, a laid back hooraying as everyone is dead tired. We go to out accommodation, a neat African hotel, and we chill. The hotel is in a very good location on a quiet side road in the club district called Hippodrome. Opposite to our street the Crazy Horse is located, which is a bar and restaurant with terrace. A real multicultural environment. The owner is an Indian from Burkina Faso. A Tamil is at the cashier, the waiters are local, but with their ‘I don’t care’ attitude they would do just as well on Liszt Ferenc square. African – international menu and African music. Castel, the local beer is good, just like the chicken with walnut sauce.

We go over to the award ceremony. We didn’t win any prize, with out zero point we are the last. But we made it! I’d like to tell that idiot little monkey on Kossuth square that we are here and we made it, and he can suck my dick. The ceremony is in a disco called Ibiza, apparently the largest in whole West Africa. It resembles me to Dexion in Alsoörs, the dance floor is the same size, and there’s fast food and cocktail bar next to it. The music is more or less the same. The security guards are much nicer n the other hand, although they are double the size than those at home.

The party kicks off very slowly, some of us go back to the Crazy horse, as the beer costs much less there and we can talk as well. We go over to the neighbouring place called Terazza, which is a restaurant downstairs, a bar upstairs and a brothel downstairs. The owner is an old guy from Lebanon. We end up in the bar upstairs. At the bar the girls are sitting in a long row. We can’t order a drink without getting a quote. When they finally realize that we are not the sure escorts for that night they stop. The music is good at some points, but sometimes really annoying serving the red headed fat and middle aged Europeans’ taste, who come here only for the hookers.

This is the real third world. The meat market. But it works the way around as well. A barrel like woman in her fifties pulling a tall toned guy behind her. I’m not in the mood to write about the moral side of this, so do it in the comments whoever feels like and have a stong opinion about it.

Shitty border

After the soldiery evening we headed towards Mali on quite decent roads. Waking up again on the noisy, bumpy bus, so shitting only on the Mauritanian border. The Mauritanian border is quite developed, there are two buildings! Sitting soldiers are around everywhere. I asked one of them where the toilet was and he just pointed out the open fields behind him. I pass some donkeys and go behind a bush, skiflying position taken, and action. Meanwhile all the guns from the jeep turn towards me. I’m not sressing out, I just shit with guns pointing me out for the first time in my life.

On the Mali side there’s nothing unusual, although Aravind has to tell the officer what to write what in the form. The border is very funny, as there’s only a hut in which a guy is sitting in his uniform and a pair of slippers. And instead of goats we see donkeys here.

Mali is a nice place

Compared to Mauritania Mali is the paradise itself. The terrain is getting greener and the trash is significantly less. Proceeding South more we pass more and more villages with mud wall huts than nomadic tents. There are markets by the road. The meat rottens on the sun, just like up in the North, but we can find grocery items around here as well. And the most significant difference: we can buy alcohol! And something interesting: almost all the restaurants have a Maggi sign painted on the front. That’s about the authentic local food.

When we stop 200 children are surrounding us right away, the usual ’give me a present’ situation. The Mali people, especially the women have a very beautiful poise, maybe due to the fact that they carry everything on their heads. We should introduce it in Europe too. Many locals have flashy brand new mobile phones, and not from the 30 Euro category. It feels strange when a person who has better mobile phone than me begs for my dirty trainers.

We camp on the savannah, set up a big fire and have the left over beer. Unfortunately we didn’t buy goatmeat, so we have to eat what we brought.

The stars shine extraordinarily bright. The Kevin couple and the Norwegians climb on the roof to sleep, and Attila, Tamás and I stare for long at the burning out fire. A beautiful night.