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Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/23 6:28 a.m.

This is the part of the movie where the red-dashed line makes its way across the map, while triumphant montage music plays in the background.


The WIFI on the ship doesn't work so we desperately work to snag a cell signal anytime the boat is near enough to the shore to do so.  Mrs. Hungary is in the Czech republic with the kids on a short vacation so we're sending pictures and swapping messages back and forth as we both get service.  In addition to all that, our team is trying to figure out what to do with this map situation.  We try a few options (like downloading regional maps from google, which doesn't really work) but end up with three main options:

1) google maps when there's service

2) Osmand offline maps (I downloaded area maps for each country we would visit) for when there is no service

3) iOverlander which comes highly recommended, but we cant get it to track our location.  We keep it just incase.

We never do get the tablet to work with the program that was installed...

Anyhoo, it's off to the aft galley now.  We've got beer to drink, cards to play (A Slovakian game called 3-up), books to read, rallye notes and maps to review, and a Romanian team to meet (One of the guys "Mikai" does humanitarian work and we talk a lot about Ukraine).  Of course there were hiccups (the Moroccan entry guy on the boat thought we were a tour group and demanded we show him the registration for every vehicle in the rallye...) but one thing is definitely becoming apparent, I am definitely the "old man" of the trip.  I'm up at 4 still, and can't hang with these guys much passed 10pm. It's awful, but I've earned it.


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/20/23 6:49 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:

Awesome read so far!


You know, in all the researching I did leading up to the rallye I never found a single writeup from any of the teams...  I'm hoping I can do this one justice. 

(looking back however, I can 100% understand why....  More on that later though)

VikkiDp Reader
1/22/23 10:22 a.m.

Cool!!! I was waiting for this laugh Love all your stories yes it's amazing!!!

Sonic UberDork
1/22/23 8:39 p.m.


I know you have a LOT going on, and no real pressure, but damn, I want to hear this story!

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/22/23 8:56 p.m.

What an adventure!

I'm Going On An Adventure! | Know Your Meme

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/30/23 4:46 a.m.

Sorry guys, I got layed out last week with a terrible throat infection.  Just getting caught back up.


So there I was, driving into Morocco...



So we hit the docks at 18:15 but it's closer to 1900 0r 2000 by the time we're able to finally drive off.  We are now officially in Africa!

Customs is no problem aside from two things:
1) They want a look at our paper map.  They say there is a correction that's needed but the guy gets distracted and runs off without correcting anything.

2) We need a "little card" for the vehicle to drive into Morocco.  This gets taken care of with nothing but a little time lost.

Tangier is just over an hour away, and it is some straight up "Kuwait style" driving to get through town to get there.  I'm talking, don't give an inch, stop lights seem to be optional, don't lose momentum, and "might has the right" sort of stuff.  After living there for a couple years though, I am in my groove.  We stop only to change money and to buy a sim card.  Which is a nice opportunity to discuss our "Sim strategy".

Each country is going to require a different sim card for our phones to work.  We knew this in advance and brought an extra (crappy) phone with us to act as a mobile hot-spot.  It was lent to us by Katka's friend and that's where the sim card goes.  From there, we all log in to the wireless hotspot and we all get internet.  No need to buy 20 sim cards, and no need to top up data 20 times.

Except nothing works that easily, but more on that later.

We finally get to camp around 2100 or 2200.  Hard to tell, but it is dark.  The whatsapp chat is already alive with chatter about the hill you have to climb to get to the camp.  Apparently only a Unimog and some other 4x4-ish sort of vehicle have been able to make it.

This is weird to me as the "camp" is smack-dab in the middle of town, but "challenge accepted" right?  This is what we came for!

When we get to the hill, I can see what they mean.  This is easily the STEEPEST paved hill I've ever seen and it just goes RIGHT UP with no switchbacks.  Well, if a Unimog can do it...

I seriously thought about putting the truck in low-range without engaging the front hubs for this.  I thought the gearing would help ensure we got up there without any issues, but as it turns out it wasn't needed.  I had to tell the truck multiple times to calm down, as she wanted to just CHARGE up that hill.

When we get to "camp" it's really not what I was expecting...  More like the "parking lot of a resort" and a whole lot more people were in there than just "a Unimog and some other 4x4-ish vehicle...  Space was so tight we ended up just parking at the first available spot and continuing on foot to try to find a spot to pitch our tents.  It sucked.

When we got back, Katka had found a spot RIGHT at the front that featured a grassy sliver of an area for us to pitch our tents on.  The spot I parked my truck in was just forward and downhill of where we would park, but when I tried to back up all I succeeded in doing was spinning my tires!  (We're off to a great start).

Not wanting to put it in 4wd for something so silly, I simply rolled forward a bit and went back at it.  It worked and we got the vehicles positioned in a way to kind of shield us from anything else that might be driving by in the night.  I will say that for our first run with our camp equipment, none of this was fun to do in the dark.  Katka posted up as our "camp lamp" as all we had immediate access to were our head-lamps:



With camp set up we're all pretty exhausted because of the late hour.  One of the employees of the place comes by and informs us we'll have to pay some small amount (I think it was $10?) at the front counter for the tent-spot.  Misha from team Slow-Vakia protests (she says they didn't have to pay last year) but I don't have the energy to argue with anyone.  I just head in and give the place my cash.

When I do, I walk by a fire truck with the back roll-up door open.  The guys inside are all seated on bench seats at the walls, and are pouring shots from a bottle.  If there was a singular moment I could point to and say "this right here.  This is the moment where I realized I planned this trip completely wrong" then this would be it.

Inside the office, I meet a British mother and her two children.  Her kids are probably between the ages of 5 and 7, and have been let behind the counter to act as "employees".  They take my cash, give me a receipt, and ask if I have any kids myself.

"I do!" says I, "I have two boys"

They give me a blue balloon for each kid.  I put these in my jacket pocket.

The mother explains that they usually overland Europe and spend their time traveling there, but due to Brexit they have to spend 45 days off the continent every so often.  They opted to spend a bit of time here!.


Around this time my team and team Slow-Vakia pass me by and say they're headed to the pool for some food.  I join in, and the Romanian team joins in a bit later.


We had Shwarma for dinner.  It was good, but took forever to get a small portion that wasn't very filling.  I will say that it was nice to have wifi though, if for nothing else so I could get caught up on social media and send messages back to Mrs. Hungary and the gang.  One thing we're noticing though, is that every so often this phone we're using as a hotspot will kick us all off of the internet.  When it does so, Katka's gotta log back in and re-connect everyone...  Oh well.

Since it was beyond late at this point, we opted to head back to the tents for a few drinks before turning in (all the beer served here was non alcoholic).  We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/30/23 5:48 a.m.

So there I was...  Walkin' down the side of the street, just mindin' my own business...  When out of NOWHERE a truck completely blinds me and I stumble out into traffic.  AND WHAT THE HELL IS AN UAZ???? 

(much laughter follows)


I'm up at 5:30 the next morning and trying not to wake everyone up.  If things were "in close proximity" last night, then they are absolutely JAM-PACKED today.  It's a good thing we parked at the front, because trying to get all 300 vehicles out of here today is going to be a mad mess.

To kill time, I make coffee on the hood of the truck


No shower for me today.  I remember poking my head in the one bathroom last night and seeing some dudes bare bum in a stall that offered zero privacy.  I'm not too worried about people seeing my bum, but I'm also not worried about not having a shower for one day.  The camp wakes up shortly afterward.

Since we're in the 4x4 touring category, we'll be attending the morning briefing.  Unfortunately, that's at a location that is not where we're camped.  In discussing it last night we decided it'd probably be a good idea if we woke up a little earlier than everyone else and got out of camp before things got clogged with traffic.  By the time we get to the location of the briefing, it's still dark out, but the sun's starting to come up.



The parking lot is already full by the time we get there, so we stop just a little ways down the street.  The morning briefing doesn't say much that the roadbook already hasn't but we do get our first race sheet and finally have a chance to give it a look.

(although I'm not TOO worried about it, I did want to keep some of the mysteries of the B2B alive so I did black out the specific GPS coordinates they sent us too.  I have no idea if these are recycled year to year, or if they change every time)



We discuss what we read on the sheet as a team.  What do we want to see, and what do we want to skip? 

Well, the short of it is that none of us are too worried about all the "selfie stops".  But we do want to see that water fall and Lukas is super stoked to see monkeys.

So that's that!  From there we decide we'll head to the nearest fuel station to top up one of the Jerry cans and put in GPS coordinates before we head out of civilization.  On our way back to the truck, we notice that Team Slow-Vakia had new stickers delivered for their Pajero and are busy putting them on.

At this fuel station, we were treated to seeing our first mechanical failure.  There was a LandRover that was just DUMPING coolant all over the ground.  The team wasn't interested in investigating and drove off instead.  No idea what ever became of them.

Our GPS strategy was also decided at this time.  Like I said, we're under no obligation to hit every race point so we always have the fallback option of just punching out and heading straight to camp each night.  Since we DO want to hit race points today, we'll use two devices to keep track of our location.  The first device will have the hotel coordinates for our end of day stop, and the second device will have our coordinates for the waterfall and the monkeys.

Easy money, and also time for Lukas to drive (Katka navigates, and I play "photographer from the back).  Now we had all agreed that the driver would pick the music as we went on this adventure, and Lukas did mention that he liked to play "DJ" on road trips, but we never did get his spotify account to work on his phone (internet issues with that mobile hot-spot) AND he had no way of connecting his phone to the truck's radio (no headphone jack, or USB), so Katka stabbed her USB stick in and played some techno that her brother put on there.



We're at our first stop, but there's no getting around it:  The GPS program provided by the organization sucks.  We never do get it to quite work right.  Luckily we can navigate with the other programs we put on our phones.  For this one we simply snagged google maps when the hotspot was available and didn't touch it until we got to our destination.  The Waterfall.


Driving in to this stop, we passed by all the other participants and parked just beyond everyone else, and I'm glad we did.  The view from our parking spot was amazing and we were able to feast our eyes on what looked to be a fishing village (although there wasn't anyone fishing at the time)







Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/30/23 7:26 a.m.

Despite our remote parking, we end up attracting the attention of a couple kids


The problem is, none of us speak French but Lukas takes the lead.  Somehow we figure out that the French word for waterfall is "Cascad" (unsure of spelling there), and the kids say they can take us to it.


With that, we leave our girl behind


Oh!  She has a team name at this point:  "Loosey"  (becaues nothing is "tighty").  It fits, and it sticks.

Anyhoo, walking into town, Lukas keeps asking the kids if they know where they're going, or if they're sure they know where the waterfall is.  I'm not sure if he's just having fun with them, or if he's worried about getting scammed.  Either way, I'm cool with whatever happens next, and we find ourselves winding through switchbacks that cross small rivers in that fishing village!


That's it!  That's the cascad!  Dry as a bone.

It's worth noting that we're coming into Africa at the end of its rainy season, but I guess even that couldnt keep water flowing over the rocks.

Ah well.


Everyone in the photos above is having a pretty good laugh at my expense.  To get  a better view of where the water SHOULD be falling, I hopped over the muddy river bed to get to the other side.  In doing so, I might have gotten my shoes a little muddy (it's that red sticky mud that you cant get off of ANYTHING)

Anyhoo, Lukas is kind of annoyed that the waterfall is dry, but I liked the trek.  The whole village was really cool, and it wasn't like a tourist area where it's shop after shop of souveniers.  It's like people actually LIVE here, and not just visit.

Good stuff.

Back down is a lot like the way up.  We couple other participants and let them know the falls are dry...


Back at the truck Katka rummages through our donation items and gives each boy some candy and a pen for their efforts.  I think we dug a bit of change out in the local currency to give them as well.  Nothing too much.

My turn to drive, and now in the driver's seat, I'm beginning to see why people were laughing at me.  I made a bit of a mess of my pants and shoes:


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/30/23 8:14 a.m.

The monkeys were our next stop, and its only a short drive to get to them.  Katka's USB stick is still in the radio and we've moved on from Techno to Rock music.  There was a big parking lot when we pulled up to the coordinates.  Lukas was urging me to drive further down the road, but there was a "do not enter" sign so I was resisting.

"Dude, this is Africa.  No one is going to care.  Look, there's another car down there"

Well, heck.  He talked me into it.  Metallica's "Master of Puppets was playing as we drove by several people.  I figured if anyone protested, I would play stupid and turn around but no one did.  When we finally DID get to the monkeys, there were a couple other vehicles down there so I stopped worrying.

Lukas though, was in his happy place:



I guess Katka was pretty happy as well.

I, on the other hand, met a dog and saw a Donkey, so I was all good laugh


That being the last of our "tourist spots" for the day, we switched devices and started heading for the night's hotel.

We basically circled around that mostly dry lake bed, and took off down the pavement and into the hills.  Things got STEEP. 

The hills are mostly covered with low growing trees, and we're well and lost in the network of roads that run through them but we've got plenty of fuel and our GPS is working flawlessly.

Then, and I mean completely out of nowhere, the pavement just stopped and was replaced by a whole lot of nothing.  We stopped for a moment to consider:

I mean, should we continue?  The road quite literally ended unannounced.  I mean we are the 4x4 TOURING category here, but is this part of that or are we lost?

We decide to continue, and what follows is an awesome dirt-road drive through the hills.  Up hills, down hills, back and forth through the switchbacks...

I'm 100% focused on driving, and not taking any pictures at all, but I do manage to snap one from my phone:


and it goes on like this FOREVER.  I mean, if this is our "introduction day" then sign me up yo!  Years and years of driving logging roads through the cascade mountains is 100% paying off right now and I am loving it!

up and down, and back and forth.  The views are amazing and I feel right at home.

Katka and Lukas will later comment that they were pretty uncertain of what was going on, and it was my confidence while driving through it that kept them assured and I think that might be the best compliment I've gotten in a long time.

But alas, nothing is forever and eventually we're back on pavement.  Just 3-hours from our hotel stop and we pass time with idle chit chat.  Why we're here, what we do, what we plan on doing.  Hobbies... the usual stuff.

It turns out that Lukas studies Jiu Jitsu, and is pretty competitive with it.  He talks of broken bones, and he's got some serious cauliflower ear to back it up (after wrestling in high school, I always take at least a passing glance at peoples ears.  Cauliflower ear is a pretty good warning sign that a person should not be messed with).

Lukas is also a chef and talks about how he worked his way through the ranks doing that.  He bakes a lot of bread and has worked in a LOT of different restaurants with a lot of different chefs (Michelin star included).

Katka is into homesteading.  She has a cottage under construction in Slovakia somewhere and wants to be off-grid-ish and self sufficient-ish.  She says when she gets back she wants to take a tig welding course and we talk a bit about that (as I have a tig welder).  My plan is to show her my welds after she completes school so she can tell me what I'm doing (if anything) wrong.

Enough about that though, it's time for food.  We're starved!

The next big town we drive through, we stop for food and ATM use:


Whole chickens were devoured at this place, and I don't even remember who that guy in the pictures was.  Another team, I'm sure.  But which and what his name was, I have no idea.

It's getting dark though, and we're nowhere nearer our destination and that causes me some anxiety.

See, Lukas and Katka and I have very different philosophies when it comes to stuff like this.  If you give me a destination then I want to get there.  Like "now".

Lukas is more chill and wants to sit for hours when we eat.

Katka can do either.  She doesn't care.  She does express concern about driving though.  Once she's assured that we're not going to force her to drive, she's good again.

All of this is something I need to work on.  I know it's no fun to fly through the drive and hit the destination, but I cant help the urge.  Luckily, we're back on the road soon.  I've taken the liberty of pulling the caps off our KC Daylighters, and I'm keeping them in reserve in case we need them.

The road were on is kind of a busy highway, but it's not lit at all.  We're all overtired by this point and we're laughing at everything.  Lukas has started calling me "Dad Joke Bill" (or DJ Bill, for short) and the laughs just keep on coming.  Even the worst joke is celebrated by the entire truck...

Getting darker still, eventually the headlights start to be "not enough".

This isn't like driving in the US or Europe.  You never know what's going to be around the next corner, or what's coming right at you.  It's weird.  Pedestrians walk with traffic but don't wear anything that makes them visible.  Animals are out there.... Even the most random crap can be found laying in the middle of the road.  You REALLY need to see.   We're leading a small convoy of participants and eventually the KC Daylighters come on:


The photo was taken from a team in an UAZ behind me.  I knew they were there so I slowed to 8o or 90kph so they could hang, and it worked for a while.

The laughter in the truck at this point is borderline "out of control".  There's a pedestrian walking along the side of the road and I fire up the lights so the guys behind me can see them.  Obviously I've started more than one story  with "There I was..." at this point, because Lukas pipes up":

"There I was... Minding my own business, walking down the side of the road"

Me:  "When this dang Toyota BLINDED me with it's roof lights"


Me:  "... I wandered out into traffic, and WHAT THE HELL IS AN UAZ????"

(Roaring laughter)

You gotta do all that with a Texas accent though.  It's what really makes it.

Eventually we do reach the hotel parking lot.  Sometime before we got here a participant in an ambulance pulled left to pass slower traffic and ended up having to swerve off the road to the left to avoid oncoming traffic.  We all got a shock out of watching that unfold in slow motion.  On the chat, we can see that someone else in a Nissan SUV has gone off the road completely and was only stopped by some rather large boulders before the embankment turned into a cliff.  They're on their own to get their vehicle back out.

Anyhoo, it's dark and the hotel parking lot is packed already.


The place is best described as a "walled villa" and we don't want to leave the truck outside the walls.  We investigate on foot a bit and find a spot to pitch our tents (yup.  Another "tent in a parking lot" sort of night).  And looking a bit deeper, we find a SINGLE spot to part the truck.

I run, while Katka stands in the place.  Eventually I'm able to Austin Powers it in and we're able to unload

(voice) "Who parked in this spot?"

aw crap...

Me:  "That's mine.  what's up?"

It's a well dressed man.  Probably a manager for the hotel.  That's his spot.

I offer to move, but he says it's ok and we stay.  Thank god really, because I was too exhausted to do it all again.  These drives may be 10-12 hours long, but none of that factors in stops for dry water falls, food, fuel, or monkeys.  That crap really adds up, and we're starting to pay for it.

oh well.  Tomorrow should be easier.

I get back to the tent and there's no one around.  I get out my head lamp any my book and sat down when my phone vibrated.  It's from Katka:

"Beers by the pool?"

berkeley yes.  That sounds awesome.

On the way I can see that Lukas and Misha are having a moment together at a table by themselves.  That looks nice, maybe next time Mrs. Hungary can come and we can do the same.

When I meet up with Katka she's found a friend.   guy named "Csaba" (chubba) and I have no idea how they met.  The guy is cool though, and he's Hungarian so I can use some of my Hungarian language charm on him.  it works, and it's fun.  Team India joins us a bit later.  Apparently their trip across Europe was quite the "culinary adventure" for them, and they stopped quite often to sample all the food they could.


Good times.


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/30/23 8:43 a.m.

Photos of the Nissan:

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/3/23 5:11 a.m.



So there I was…  airing down the tires, staring down the nastiest rock-road I’ve ever seen…  And this is for the “touring cars”???!

I’m up at 6:30 the next morning.  Still awake before my team, but the rest of the teams are getting up about the same time so I don’t feel as awkward as I usually do.



I DON’T, however, know when the morning briefing is so I kind of missed it.  We’ve only been in Africa for 2-days but for some reason it feels a LOT longer than that as I'm having trouble getting my brain going.  No worries though, as I’m still able to get the race sheet from the lady who hands them out and it doesn't seem like it's going to be an eventful day.




  By the time the rest of my team starts waking up, a bunch of the other teams are already heading out.

Here's a view from where my tent was.  Last night, this place was completely covered with tents, tarps, and folding chairs.

While having drinks last night we talked about how one of Misha’s camera crew had a hotel room at the facility.  Said camera man was pretty cool (and had the most amazing moustache) and was going to let us all take turns using showers there before we left, and that’s what we do (first cold shower on the continent).  When I get out, all the towels are long beyond soaked and used up, but I don’t really care.  It’s just nice to get the 2-day stench off of me from yesterday.  I use my old shirt to dry off, and finish using the facilities while we got 'em (It’s also my first day of taking my malaria pills.  Fun stuff).

Loading up the truck we can see some of the remaining teams in various stages of preparation.  Someone is running an angle grinder, and the Mud Dogs have a tarp spread out to the side of their truck with all sorts of tools on it…  There’s supposed to be a sandy off-road section today but that won’t be happening until mid-day at the earliest.  Between then and now, it all seems like pavement...  Ah well, maybe they know something we dont?

More of that in a second though, because here’s a couple pictures of the stickers that team Slow-Vakia applied to their Pajero yesterday:


OH!!!  I also ran into Jack!

I mentioned him earlier.  He's the motorcyclist from the UK that was having bike issues on the way down.  A clutch failure had him stuck for about 3 days in Belgium.  Then he fought an electrical issue on his way south that was solved when (I think he said) someone drove down from the UK with a van full of spares to help rescue.  It worked, because I finally got to meet the guy!



For all the trouble he's gone through he seems in pretty good spirits.  That, or he's a super easy going guy.  His bike seems pretty well sorted as well.  We chat a bit, but have to part ways as the crowd is starting to get thin, and I'm starting to feel that anxiety where I really feel like we should be on the road by now.

In the truck it’s another uneventful departure.  The race sheet doesn’t have much that seems to interest us so we’re just going to punch south to Zagora.  From there we can pick from the fork in the road.  We can either stay east and run the 4x4 sand path into camp, or we can punch west and take the touring car road into camp.  All for later though, as none of us are really awake at this point.  Katka’s USB stick is still in the radio and…  is that “Silent Night”???

It is. And perhaps worse?  None of us bother to change it… 

It’s at this point I realized that the rallye didn’t start when I got to Africa.  It started days before with the frantic prep at home and the packing in Budapest.  I usually drink two cups of American drip coffee in the morning and I've already had three big cups of espresso from our little coffee maker and it just doesn't seem to be working.

Katka and Lukas are showing signs of being tired too.  The three of us have been packed in close proximity with each other (and constantly moving) for about 6 days now, and there hasn’t been much of a break…  Not even the 48 hours on the ferry was quite as relaxing as we thought it would be. 

We talk about it a bit but don’t worry, today should be easier.  We’re going to play it safe, make good time, and we’ll get a good rest on the dunes under the stars tonight.  It says we should expect to drive 13 hours but that can't be right, can it? 

(I made a little map to show the difference between our drive today VS yesterday)


After we get to Zagora we'll pick between the 4x4 route and the Touring route.  Honestly, with how we're feeling we'll probably play it safe and just tour this one.   Our logic is that maybe if we skip the 4x4 and stick to pavement we can get to camp earlier.  That way tomorrow we’ll be able to start fresh. 

So the Christmas music continues until we stop a short while later for fuel and breakfast.  Across the street is a Humvee that really has Katka and Lukas amused (they take pictures).



We have a data connection again so updates are coming in on my phone.   After I left on this trip, Mrs. Hungary sent a package to fellow forum member VikkiDp and she reported that it had been received.  It had Christmas presents in it for her neighbor in the Ukrainian Army.  There was also a chance to get in a quick video call with kids, and chat with Mrs. Hungary so that was nice (they were still in the Czech Republic at this point, so data is all we can use to communicate).  And of course, there was the obligatory scrolling through social media...

From here on though, there’s not much to say as not much happened.  So there’s nothing for us to do now but take in the scenery!



(Bon route!  Good luck!)





Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/3/23 5:29 a.m.

That's it, we're out in the desert now!

I think it's already been established that monkeys are Lukas's favorite animal, but it's about now that it'd becoming apparent that camels are Katka's favorite.  Just up the road a ways, and on the inside of a long sweeping right-hander, we found a herd of camels and of course we had to stop!  Best of all, there was a little sand ramp we could drive down to get us a closer view.

With that comes our first Slovakian word:   Camel = ťava  (or "ťavi" if it's plural). 


Actually that's a lie.  I can already say "good morning" (Dobre rano), "good night" (dobru noc), "thank you" (dakujem), and whatnot.

The other point worth noting is Katka insists that every camel is female and is sure to say "hello ladies!" when she sees em.

Enough of that though, there's a motorcyclist in that list picture headed our way.  We think this is his herd of camels and we're not really interested in talking.  We're sure to wave from a distance and depart the same way we came in. 

Singing:  On the road again!



Just after this picture was taken, Lukas saw a hill that offered a good photo op with the truck.  Of course we had to stop to stretch our legs (besides, I really had to pee but didn't want to say anything yet)



Random people walking is really a thing here and we can't figure it out.  We'll be hours from the last town and someone will be walking to the next one.  Sure enough, just as I was about to go drain my bladder, people started walking by and we had no idea where they came from laugh

There were these small ruined brick structures with little ruined channels going to them, and I'd figure I'd follow one to some privacy within their walls to do my thing


When I looked inside I thought this looked like it might be a well-house and that the channel might be a way to get water into town but none of it seemed right.  There were no facilities to get water UP to the channel, and then the channel seemed to be tilting the wrong way.

Maybe a drain house for the rainy season?  Water falls from the sky and gets channeled into one of these?

Who knows.


One last sphoto before we head on into Zagora to get some food.

Good times



Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/3/23 6:17 a.m.

My turn to drive again, so not many pictures between our photo op and Zagora, but you can already tell just driving in that this is a bigger city than we've been in in a while!

On the outskirst there are 4-motorcyclists waiting on the side of the road.  A couple of them immediately take off and start hounding us.

"Do you need service??  What about inspection?  Oil change?  Tires?"

Us:  "no... no.. no... no thank you... no... thank you but no..."

Them:  "Come on, follow us.  Good Toyota garage!  We help you prepare!"

Us:  "no... no.. no... no thank you... no... thank you but no..."

One guy peels off and heads back to the edge of town.  The other hangs with us outside the passenger window.  They're being pushy, but it's not threatening or violent.  It's just expected that the rallye will stop at the garage because a selfie with Aziz (the garage's owner) was one of the stops.  The motorcyclists are also why there were no coordinates listed for that stop on the race sheet.  None are needed! cheeky

anyhoo, eventually Lukas starts talking back:

"I like your bike!  How much?  You sell me!"

"Your bike need service?  Tires?  I am good motorcycle mechanic"

It's all a good laugh, and the motorcyclist is loving having the rolls swapped.  For me though, it's a bit exhausting having to mind that biker and traffic at the same time.  I really cant wait to stop for lunch, and eventually we do:



That's Lukas talking to the biker there at our lunch stop.  I cant remember what he was asking him, but it was friendly.  Hounding us was just part of his job, and we knew that.

Some of the other participants stopped at the same place (Katka found this joint on her phone somehow while I was driving)


That last picture can only mean one thing.  We got data!!!!

The whatsapp chat fires to life.  We can see that Team Bananas is reporting being stopped by the police:


Apparently the officer had a Slovakian keychain and wanted to show them.  This got a good laugh from the other Slovakian participants (there were quite a few!)

A little later on, that same team would report a breakdown.  The word they used to describe the broken part wasn't anything I've ever heard of before, so I'm sure something got lost in translation:


During the repair a corroded brake line also lived up to its name, and broke apart.  Hopefully they get it all fixed.

Lukas is chatting with Misha and she's been stuck in the desert.  I guess her and Linda were supposed to go out with their camera man to shoot some pictures and ended up getting the Pajero stuck in the sand.  We're all sympathetic because that's gotta suck.  We ask Lukas if we should go lend an assist, and he reports that she's not even on the route.  They stopped somewhere early on, so we'd have to double back HOURS to get to her.

So I guess that's that then.  Nothing we can do now but press on.


Food time and again (this took about an hour to get) I'm surprised at how small these portions are!  I mean I really want to sample the local flavors and all, but this skinny kid has GOT to EAT, yo!  It's all good and I do enjoy the Tajine, but man could I go for about 5-more plates of this stuff....  It just doesnt fill me up but I'm not worried as we brought plenty of food in the truck (freeze dried camp stuff, mostly)

No worries though, because I met a cat and it likes me


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/3/23 7:08 a.m.

Done with lunch (and still Hungary) it's time for route planning:

We can stay east and hit the 4x4 section or punch west and take the touring route



Honestly, after hours of driving and hearing about Team Slow-Vakia getting stuck we're really thinking about just skipping the 4x4 this time.  We'll punch west, save the truck, AND our energy.  And that's what we do.

But first, we need to sort out some issues.  This will be the last big city we hit before camp and we don't have any beer.  This being an African country, they don't exactly sell this stuff in every store but that doesn't stop us from trying anyway.

The first place we hit, sends us to another.  That place turned out to be a dead end, and while we were stopped there we met another Slovakian team.  They were doing the same thing.

Katka takes the lead and chats them up, but when she gets back she reports that they weren't "Slovakian".  I guess they had some seriously thick accents which pointed them out to be from a spot just outside Slovakia.  meh.

They say they're going to follow us, but that doesn't happen and we cris-cross paths a couple times in the few minutes we spend driving up and down the main drag.  I'm actually talking about the idea of sending Lukas in a taxi to get what we need (Cab drivers know everything) when a motorcycle appears outside our window.  IT'S OUR GUY!

"you need service???"  He asks, laughing

"We need beer!" I yell

He motions to follow and tears off through traffic.  I'm hot on his tail (Loosey can move when she needs to).  Eventually we arrive at a hotel and Lukas and Katka go in with guy.



So there you are.  If you're in Zagora, that's how you find beer.

It takes a bit but eventually the team comes out with a couple bags of cans.  They didn't buy very much (maybe 8 beers?  About 2 for each of us) but reported that it was pretty expensive and what they had would do.

Cool, now to head down that wester leg!

It's not super far off, and man are we getting excited that we might FINALLY pitch our tents in daylight tonight.   I don't think the drive from Zagora to Foum Zguid took but a couple hours, but we lost service just outside of El Mhamid.  We double back and pull up maps.  For this next section, we're going to need to go point-to-point with our GPS

It starts off easy enough.  Google maps cant be updated once we lose GPS signal, but we can put in the "cross the dune here" destination in (the heart on the previously photo'd map) and zoom out to see our present position versus our destination.  We put that in the holder on the dashboard and that's my reference from the driver's seat.

Katka is riding shotgun and she has her phone out with Osmand maps going.  She can enter each point as we cross them and focus on a micro level from there.

Got it?

So we get to the turnoff and we immediately run into several vehicles turning back.  The road ahead is nothing but LARGE river rocks and apparently it beat the hell out of their vehicles.  Whatsapp is kind of weird sometimes and it will give us a text connection when nothing else is working.  This is one of those times and calls for help are already going out.

A landrover needs a shock bushing. 

People with SUVs are asking each other if they think they can make it.

Team Slow-Vakia isn't going to make camp tonight and will be staying in Zagora.

I start airing down the tires.

This was specifically NOT recommended by the organizers in their road-book as they say it puts us at greater risk of puncture, but with what I'm seeing ahead I think the truck could use the added dampening effect the flatter tires will offer.  Still though, I'm not going below 20 or so PSI and we have an air compressor to air back up if need be.

While I'm back there letting air out of the tires, Katka starts filming and I get a good taste of just how tired we're getting. 

"Bill, what in the world are you doing" she asks, pointing her camera at me.

"uhhhhhhh", I rack my brain for a joke. 

"Weight reduction?" I try.

complete flop.

We've been joking non-stop this entire trip and I thought "weight reduction" was funny now???

Moving on, I decide to lock the hubs (just in case)

We start down the road, and it's going to be a SLOW drive.  Any amount of speed and those large river rocks start to beat you AND the truck to death.  It's awful.

Worse yet, since I lost data connection my google maps keeps going to screen-saver on my phone.  Lukas gets tired of seeing me move the cursor every 2-minutes and changes my settings to keep the maps going.  At some point we ran into another team in a sedan who had stopped and was talking to someone in a Toyota Hilux.

Now the road at this point is very much a one-and-a-half track.  That is, there's only room for two vehicles if one has his tires up on the ridge on either side of the road.

Which brings me to my next point.  This "ridge" on either side of the road is nothing but a HUGE wall of BIGGER river rocks and we really cant get around these guys.

Except, I have exactly zero mechanical sympathy...

I cock the wheels right and give me enough "ramming speed' (just a good launch in first gear) to bump myself up and on this ridge.  We pull up along side the sedan and as if they're ok

Sedan driver (RHD):  "These gus say to turn around, it gets worse up ahead!"

(Our team has talked about this.  We help when we can.  Everyone is on the same adventure)

Me:  "Are you sure, man?  We can follow you.  We have all sorts of recovery equipment!"

Sedan driver "Oh mate.  Following us at our speed?  You'd go insane!"

Me:  "Promise, man.  100% cool.  We can follow you all the way to camp."

They decline once more, and we say our goodbyes.  Up ahead the rocks begin to clear and I'm able to take my hands off the wheel long enough to get a picture:


With the road clearing, it's not long until our heads do too.  I get to thinking and say "You know, with us staying in the desert tonight.  Maybe it wouldnt be a bad idea to stop if we see some dead wood and grab some stuff for a camp fire".

This was met with enthusiasm and we started looking all around.  It wasn't long before we found some!

A tree just off the road a bit had split somehow and a good half of it was deader than a door nail.  We found our fire wood!


We get out the hatchet from the back and easily lop the dead spot of.  The wood is damn hard, so it should burn well, but it's also the spikeyest bit of wood I've ever had the displeasure of grabbing.  My arm is immediately scraped up just dragging it from where it was to the back of the truck.

Much head scratching follows.  We don't really have anything to tie it to the roof with....  We cant toss it in back... don't want to drag it behind us....

yeah, that wasn't well thought out on my end.

So back in its place it goes!  Maybe a local will walk by and grab it?  We hop back in the truck and are back to navigating...


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/3/23 7:30 a.m.

With each GPS checkpoint things seem to get worse.  Less landmarks, less accuracy, less certainty, more people turning back...  We saw some children waiting by the road at the half-way point and Katka gave them some candy.  A little while earlier we saw two boys herding goats and we gave them water.

Once, when we thought we were almost to camp, we run into a couple Hungarians in an SUV that are turning back.  This has me worried.

We talk a bit in Hungarian at first, but they quickly lose me so we switch to english.  They've got the organizer provided maps up and are showing me where they went and what they ran into, but honestly my brain 100% get beyond the fact that they got that program to work!  I'm really at a loss as to why they turned around but we said our pleasant goodbyes and go back on our way.  This'll be the last team we see before camp.

Lukas:  "I love watching Bill speak Hungarian to the Huns.  They both start off so confident and by the third sentence you can see Bill's face turn to utter fear as they completely lose him"

(we all laugh.  It's 100% true)

Katka:  "Bill, I'm going to have a new rule.  I want you to greet everyone in English first"

(more laughter, and I agree)

Ok fair.  This goes back to the Arabic conversation in Italy I think.  She had to ask me what the guy at the ferry terminal said as I had forgotten to translate.

On our way again and the sun is starting to get low.  The KC light covers were taken off at our last stop back at the tree, and it's looking like they're going to be needed soon.

Again we run into less rocks as we travel and more and more sand.  Eventually, we're not even following tracks anymore...

Thank goodness for ground clearance and balloon tires though because on more than one occasion there have been shadows that concealed decent sized bumps in our way, and I caught air almost every time.  It's nerve wracking enough for my passengers when I jump the truck on purpose.  It's another when it scares the crap out of me too.

but on we go.

Sand is followed by more sand, and the sun keeps getting lower.  We can see a building (a house, maybe?)  it looks to be on our route so we point to it.

still no tracks in the sand...  KC lights are on by now, but the glare from the sunset behind us seems to make them less useful (even though it's getting dark).  A couple more times humps in the sand have caught me off guard "watch watch wach!" Lukas will say from the back seat

"Got it!" I'll say, before I hit the brakes and still hit it harder than I intended.

The GPS is no longer aligning with the building we're pointed at so we adjust course.

2nd gear now, an can't go any faster.

"watch watch watch!"

(brake, BOUNCE!)

"Sorry!" I shout back (not sure if I'm apologizing to the team or the truck at this point)

finally, after what seems like driving forever in the darkness we come across some vehicles headed towards a dune.  It looks like they're following a road, so we point towards it.

"Watch watch watch!"

(Brake, BOUNCE!)


One last loose sand hump and we're home free.  There are a few motorcycles buzzing around it, and an SUV or two stuck in it.

"Time for 4-wheel drive" Lukas says

"Nah, I got this" I say and put the hammer down with us pointed in the correct general direction.  The back end is loose but we're gaining speed.

We accelerate hard before the dune and back off once we're pointed up.  Our momentum carries us to the top and over.  Once we crest, I drop a gear and feather the throttle a bit to get us over and down the other side...  It's hard-packed dirt and smooth sailing from there.

This is it.  We did it!  We just 4-wheeled it to our first desert camp!!!

(Pause here as I need a quick break.  To be continued)

HoserRacing HalfDork
2/4/23 8:25 a.m.

Loving it!  Thanks for putting all of this down for the rest of us to read!


ShawneeCreek GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/4/23 11:20 a.m.

Agreed! Thanks Bill for taking the time to document and share this adventure with us.

- Sean

2/4/23 1:53 p.m.

Awesome story telling.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/6/23 12:02 p.m.

In reply to HoserRacing, ShawneeCreek, and NOHOME :

Thanks guys.  I'll be honest, trying to keep my thoughts straight (and coherent) through this one has been TOUGH!  There was just so much going on, and how do you take it from what you saw and put it into text accurately???  I'm glad you guys are enjoying it though.

One thing I'm learning is it might take me more than just one sitting to write about each day cheeky  There's just so much to cover!

WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/6/23 12:52 p.m.
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to HoserRacing, ShawneeCreek, and NOHOME :

Thanks guys.  I'll be honest, trying to keep my thoughts straight (and coherent) through this one has been TOUGH!  There was just so much going on, and how do you take it from what you saw and put it into text accurately???  I'm glad you guys are enjoying it though.

One thing I'm learning is it might take me more than just one sitting to write about each day cheeky  There's just so much to cover!

You're doing great, and now you realize why you couldn't really find this kind of guide to it!

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/6/23 1:12 p.m.

So we hit camp and the first thing I notice is there isn't a single other touring car there.  In fact, the only non 4x4 vehicle to make it was the organizer's Renault (which was lifted and modified for the rally).  It takes us a couple tries, but eventually we find a nice parking spot that isn't crowded, and there's a small shed-like brick building we're butted up against that gives us some privacy.

Unfortunately, because of the low light (it's darker than it looks, as evidenced by the lamps on in everyone's campsite), my phone is only taking blurry photos...



Sorry guys.  I guess the view of the camp is just for us...

The next thing we notice is the back window was down after our stop at the firewood tree...  Remember back at the start ceremony, Katka made mention that she was worried about driving off with the window down?  Well, she was right.  And Lukas's sleeping bag is missing...

It's too dark to turn back down the path we came in on, and I feel absolutely awful.  We're still far enough north that it's getting pretty darn cold at night!  I try a couple times to offer Lukas my sleeping bag, but he wont take it.  I stop pushing before I stop being helpful and start getting annoying.  I still feel like crap though.

Anyhoo, this is a HUGE stop for me.  Back on the ferry we all talked about what we wanted from this trip and "to see the stars" was mine.  See, I was in the Navy aboard an aircraft carrier back in a previous life and I can tell you that there is nothing on god's green earth like looking up at the stars on a completely dark sky.   You just look up and you can get completely lost in the distance.  No matter where you look there is just layer upon layer, and I've noticed that on nights like those I can stare off in any direction and see a shooting star (or a satellite.  I dunno, but I also don't care).  For me there's just this sense of adventure that has it's roots in those pitch-black and perfect night skies.  I truly believe that if we all spent time looking up at a night like that, we would 100% understand why people pointed their telescopes towards the clouds.  Why man had to step foot on the moon.  Why there are people out there who are truly not content with staying within their borders.  Why some people just HAVE to step out of their comfort zones and see a part of the world that's just so much bigger than they'll ever be.  I even brought a proper camera and tri-pod with me for the occasion.  I've seen Corsepervita's thread and LOVE his photos of the night sky.  I 100% plan on taking a few pictures to celebrate the occasion.

(there's always a "but", isn't there?)

The darn tri-pod I brought with me broke in the back of the truck...  I cant mount my camera to it...

Ah well, another view that's "just for us", I guess.  Here's the evening in a few photos:


That last one is Katka using her iPhone, and she is having way better luck with it than I am with my camera or with my Android phone.

She has a night photo setting that she uses, and as long as we sit PERFECTLY still, she's able to take pictures with it in the dark:

Here are some that she sent me afterwards:



So we spent some time stargazing, and honestly it wasn't as good as I remember on the carrier.  Katka even mentions that she can see stars like this from her favorite camping spot in some Slovakian mountain.  It's nice, but not the awe-inspiring view I was hoping for (it's probably the headlights coming in from all directions).  Perhaps worse, we discover that we still have a data connection on Lukas's phone (and there's nothing like a data connection to ruin a romantic view)

On the chat we can see that people are setting up various camps along today's route.  Only a small portion of participants made it in to the camp.  A motorcyclist was taken to the hospital by some participants in a van.  Apparently he dumped the bike on some dunes and broke his collar bone.

It also appears that the 4x4 route was the way to go.  People are complaining about the max speed of 10-15kph on the touring route, while the 4x4 guys are reporting a blistering 50kph+ the whole way (good to know my decision making abilities haven't changed.  I naturally default to the most difficult way possible).

We don't bother to connect the phones though.  It hasn't been working at all lately, which is why Lukas has the sim card in his phone now.  Messages and social media can wait.

The place we're at offers an "authentic beduin dinner" so of course we had to go do that.  We walk passed the shower facilities (available at a small price in the local currency) and catch our daily view of pastey white old man butt.  Meh, whatcha gonna do?

Dinner turns out to be the absolute thinnest soup I think any of us have ever had, but there's a camp fire there to help keep us warm (it's getting cold already)


The bread helps a little, but darn it if I can't remember the last time I felt "full" after a meal on this drive.  It's too late now though to do anything about it, we're not going to start cooking camp food this late so we call it a night after dinner.  Before turning in though, Katka has to use the aforementioned shower.  Some sand got in her clothes on our way down the dune and she needs a good rinse.  Having no paper money, I lend her what she needs and she's off.  Lukas and I call it a night (no showers for us).  Tomorrow should be easier, though.  Right?

Good times.


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/6/23 4:11 p.m.
WonkoTheSane said:
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to HoserRacing, ShawneeCreek, and NOHOME :

Thanks guys.  I'll be honest, trying to keep my thoughts straight (and coherent) through this one has been TOUGH!  There was just so much going on, and how do you take it from what you saw and put it into text accurately???  I'm glad you guys are enjoying it though.

One thing I'm learning is it might take me more than just one sitting to write about each day cheeky  There's just so much to cover!

You're doing great, and now you realize why you couldn't really find this kind of guide to it!

Thanks man.  I think the other reason there's no guide for this to be found, is it gets kind of unflattering pretty quick out there once the dirt, and sleep dep, and heat, and constant road noise, and and and, all seep in.  I was going to save this post for another day, but I think you've given me the perfect segway so I'll take it.

There I was...  Lyin awake the entire night.  No data connection but scrollin through the same feed on my phone anyway.  Never once thought to grab the paperback book I brought with me for this EXACT scenario...

Up at 6am again.  I still have no idea why my darn body wont let me sleep in to a reasonable hour.  Just once, I'd like to NOT be the first person up...

Ah well.  I may not be getting any rest, but at least I can head up to the top of the dune and catch that sunrise.

Unfortunately I'm having the same troubles with my android camera, and this time Katka isn't here with her iPhone to pick up the slack.  Ah well.

I will say this about these dunes and it goes back to my favorite scene in "Good Will Hunting".  It's when Robin Williams finally has enough of Matt Damon's stuff and goes off on him.  Something to the effect of "if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel..."

That scene has stuck with me my entire life and even if my old-man brain wasn't waking me up at 6am, even though it costs me precious sleep (that I so desperately need right now), even though it's damn cold this early in the morning, even though I'd rather be having a cup of coffee... I'd still want to be on the top of that dune.  Because while I can watch youtube videos of past participants, while I can see who's entered previous races and who didn't finish, even though there's plenty of drone footage out there, and plenty of overlanding blogs and vlogs for me to read and watch...  Not one of them could tell me what that soft sand feels like under my cold-butt before the sun crests the horizon.

That was something, and I'm glad we made the stop (I'm still damn exhausted though).

Back down at 7am for some morning coffee and the briefing, and Katka wakes up and asks what I'm doing.  I explain that I'm just being and old man, and it's a requirement that old people wake up super early, and she goes back to sleep.  After the brief, I'm given today's race sheets:

There's not much interesting on it today (nothing like the monkeys and waterfall that we were treated to on the first day!) but checking out that Dakar piste sounds dang cool.  I mean, how cool would it be to turn wheels in anger along the same route as the Dakar, yo?!

But alas.  We're in no shape for it.  Before all this had started, I had made it very clear that I wanted to hit every possible 4x4 route, and camp in every possible camp.  Now that we're actually here, I can see how optimistic it was of me.  Even still, I am a bit bummed.  I really did want to dig in and get stuck a bunch but even if we wanted to, we shouldn't.  We really need to retrace our steps last night and find Lukas's sleeping bag.

Eventually the team is up, and I make eggs,  There's also oatmeal and more coffee.

My little camping egg carrier got quite the laugh when everyone first saw it, but it's utility couldn't be denied.  This darn thing works!

Unfortunately we're forced to cook them in a paper thin pot over the jet boil, so I have to keep the temp pretty low to keep from scalding them.  It works though and soon we're ready to tear down camp.  One new problem today.  The back window is rolling down crooked and getting jammed.  Katka supports it while I operate the switch.  Between the two of us, we get it to work.


This Defender, though?

They're from Papa, Hungary too!
I make sure to tell them hello

This here (above) is what I mean about getting cramped and trying a few spots before we settled on this one.  Last night things were pretty open, but as people stumble into camp late at night, things fill up quick.  That's why we chose the spot next to the building as a bit of a "guaranteed privacy shield".

We head back out the same way we came in (still not using 4wd).  I'm at the wheel and we're all on the lookout for Lukas's sleeping bag.

Now I mentioned that this was a tough run on the way in because things got "vague" as we got closer.  Well, on the way out it was no different.  The best we could do was to re-trace our steps based off of landmarks the best we could.  We weren't even certain it would work, but as we were about at the half-way point we thought we saw our firewood tree!

Sure enough...

See it there by the CB antenna???  Man, I can not tell you how happy I am we got that back.  Again, super bummer we're missing the 4x4 section today but Lukas froze his bumm off all last night and going on without this was not going to happen.

We also saw those same kids again, and again we stopped to give them some candy.

The chat is already alive with chatter...

That Bananas team is dead in the water (or sand) again.  Apparently they jumped a dune in their disco and broke something in the process...

The man under there I think is from Aziz's garage and travels with the organization for these exact situations (I'm sure his rates are adjusted accordingly)

The team with a van came back down the path and grabbed the injured motorcyclist's bike

It turns out it's the same make and model of motorcycle that Lukas has back home!  Again, we chat about the situation and agree "everyone is in the adventure together".  Lukas couldn't get a message out to the group but was able to text Misha with a reply:  "If someone can find safety gear, I can get the bike to the next camp for the rider"

The rider, with a broken collar bone, is wanting to catch a ride from the hospital to the next camp.  From there, he'll take back over on his motorcycle.  We all agree it's nuts, but if he's up for it then so are we.


This road is LOOOOOONG though.  Way and it's beating us and the truck to death...  I'm hearing a metal grunching on metal sound when I bump the driver's side wheel into stuff.  Any time that tire goes up into the wheel well, I'm rewarded with that metal on metal sound...  It doesn't bother me, but you can tell that Katka and Lukas aren't used to driving around in vehicles that make such noises.  They're concerned.

At one pont, where we were getting pummled to death by vibrations, I asked "weren't we able to drive faster on this crap yesterday"

Both, together: "YES!"

Ouch, but we eventually make it through and back to pavement.  It seriously took us hours of vibrating to get this far and we didn't want to press on without a quick break.  So we doubled back into Foum Zguid and stopped for fuel, and coffee.

This is pretty typical of our fuel stops.  No one pumps their own gas, so all we have to say is "sans plomb" and we get topped up with unleaded.

Katka does her part by cleaning all the gunk of the windshield.  Only one of our window sprayers is working, and the wipers are inept at best.  Her squeegie is proving to be invaluable to us getting through, especially at night when the glare from oncoming headlights blinds the heck out of us on these pitch-black roads.

You can also see that my driver's side corner marker light (not a blinker) has departed the vehicle (and that the passenger side isn't far behind!).  I think that's a good testament to how god awfully bumpy that darn road was.  An executive decision is made and we remove the other marker light to match.  It's how we'll continue from here out.

Before we go, I accidentally close the seatbelt in the door and damage that too...


In town we sit with our coffee and I take the opportunity to air the tires back up.

We also need to use the ATM if possible, to pull out more paper money.  Nowhere takes cards anymore (completely expected) but ATMs are getting kind of thin...

Done and done.

Next stop for us wont be until Tata.

Now google maps may say that this is going to be a 3-hour and whatever drive but that is 100% not how long it took us.  I think it was nearly noon by the time we got this far, and we still had half way to go!  We are all super tired.  When we park we do so in a spot that's "not allowed" and are told so by another participant.  Apparently they had just parked in a "red zone" as well and got in a bit of trouble.  We had to move to a "green zone", which we did, before sitting down for lunch.

We have a cat that looks exactly like this.  We named her "Meowthra" and she is a huge pain in the butt.  Naturally I had to feed and pet this guy in her place.


The Hungarlings would agree with the description of that fish...

Kids and their phones.  Its becoming apparent that there is a slight generational gap between us.  I mean I use the heck out of my phone, but these guys cant seem to put the things down!  I wanted to tell them "You're in Africa!  Look at Africa!" but I didn't.  I may be old, but I'm not that crabby yet.  Instead, I just looked around while they played with their electronics.

Tajine again.  I am 100% bound and determined to eat the local flavours while I'm here, but these portions gotta start getting bigger!  You think I would have learned by now, but my optimism knows no bounds (nor any reality).  Katka didn't finish her chicken and I think that's the only thing that got me through the afternoon.

I can also see I'm wearing my sandals now.  This means I got tired of wearing my (really nice) hiking boots (blame heat and low energy).  Honestly I'm surprised at these landmarks I'm seeing.  I really thought it was much further down that we were this tired.  So much has happened in so few days, it really seems like a much longer drive than what it looks like on paper...

I mean, we've got a good handfull of inside jokes going between us:

1) (Something outside stinks up the whole truck) Blame it on the person in the back seat:  "Lukas, seriously!"

2) (Stop for fuel and Katka starts cleaning the window):  Driver either waves money or makes a "shoo" motion with their hand "no no, just go!"

3) We put Katka's USB stick on "random" and crank it up whenever a christmas song comes on

There's more, but these didn't happen overnight.  They grew and evolved as we spent more and more time in the truck.  Some of them were the result of nothing more than pure exhaustion as a way to stay awake (see "Christmas music").  We've also got a few songs that are our "go to's" and none of them are good.

Here's an example

There's another that's got a techno beat and the singer just says "I'm like.. I'm like.. I'm like hypnotyzed"

and we dance like idiots in our seats, and ask each other stupid stuff like "what's he like"

(other two) "Hypnotized!"

It's crazy.  It's been crazy.  I really think we're all running on adrenaline and auto-pilot by this point because even my pictures and notes are becoming few and far between.

But back to that lunch though.  We finish and I eat the chicken that Katka didnt.  The restaurant has some 4wd stickers so I ask if we can add a Dnipro Express to it, and the owner happily agrees!


we finish up our stop with another ATM run.  our last city didn't have one, and things were getting tense.

After that, Lukas takes over driving duty and I snap a few photos from the back seat.

Look at that latch in relation to its receptacle.  We've had suspicions that this window wasn't locking closed all the way, and we were able to confirm.  I couldnt get it bent back into place, and we blamed the rocky road we went down (twice) for knocking it off track...

This was the last photo I took before I fell asleep.  And that reminds me of another running joke we've got going:  Taking pictures of people when they fall asleep in the truck.  Again, sleep-dep fueled shenanigans. I got about an hour in before we hit camp.

And can you believe it???  We made it before it got dark!!!

This gave us the perfect opportunity to try out our shade!

If you remember, Katka and I had looked at Decathlon for something for everyone to sit in but ultimately decided on tent poles, and a blanket.

Well, here goes (and with it, "Mensa Engineering" is born):

Mensa Engineering:  I previously mentioned that I work as an engineer.  Well it came out in truck conversation that Katka was a member of Mensa (or had passed their tests, or both?).  This gives Lukas plenty to laugh at us about when we do dumb stuff (which happens often).  But after the success of our shade idea, we had to come up with a name for our business, and that's what we came up with. (Katka's admission into Mensa is a whole different story, but came about when I mentioned Shakira was a heart-throb of mine.  She's a member as well).

Anyhoo:  We also had our first zip-tie repair.  A plastic piece of a chair broke apart:

One thing I can say about this place is it is WINDY!!!!

Everything needs to be anchored down, and for the first time on this trip we use our tent pegs (and then set big rocks on top of them).  Some of the other campers aren't so lucky.

It's also really warm in the sun, and that shade is only good for about two people.  not too much of an issue though as the showers are right next to our site (naturally, they're cold...).  I think this is where I might have lost my soap holder.  It's a white plastic thing, so if anyone sees it...

Eventually team Slow-Vakia catches up to us and Misha and Linda join the party.  Jack is on the chat and reports "Hey everyone, this place has beer!!!!!".  To which I reply:

"Way ahead of you buddy!"

That's Csaba (Chubba) hanging out with us again.  He'll leave shortly to go drink palinka with some Hungarians.  I was invited but stayed to hang with the team instead.

But then the unflattering bit starts.  Slow at first...  you can see that everyone is on their phones... again.  Mine doesn't have reception and I'm beyond tired of asking for whoever has the sim to go in and reset their settings, because then the other person has to reconnect too.

The place is also running out of beer, which is why we have so many on our table.  We saw this happening early on, and I thought I'd buy a big round for everyone while I could and then we'd sip on gin and tonics later (I am really looking forward to that gin and tonic.  I've been craving one for days).

But we get kicked out of the table as I guess someone had it reserved (it wasn't marked).  Instead we all cram into a corner table and are shoulder to shoulder.  Which isn't bad but Misha and Linda and other Slovakians have joined us and I'm the only English speaker at the table, and the conversation is 100% in Slovakian now.  I try to stare at my phone, but without service it's pretty much useless... 

Time is crawling by...

The place has wifi, but it doesn't quite reach our table even though we're sitting on the other side of the wall from the bar.  In order to use it, I have to get up and stand deeper in the corner.  It's not fun, and it doesn't really work.  I get a few messages out to Mrs. Hungary but the Hungarlings want to chat and it's just too loud and the connection is too crappy, so I go and sit back down.  More Slovakian, so I'm kinda stuck just looking around while everyone else talks.  Eventually I get back up to use the wifi again.

it works (or doesn't work) about as well as it did (or didn't) last time.  I'm good and irritated at this point and the alcohol, sleep-dep, and empty stomach probably didn't help either.  It's started getting dark and when I put my phone away and start towards my seat, some man sits down right in front of that gin and tonic I wanted so bad...

Katka (who was sitting next to me) tells the man in english "my friend is sitting here" but it's too late.  Once my temper boils over, I really just need to separate myself from whatever it is that's causing it (in this case, the entire table).

I walk around the table 180-degrees and get Katka's attention.  "Ask Lukas what time we're leaving tomorrow"

Her:  "Why?"
me: "Because I'm leaving"
Her: "What? Why"
Me: "So I can ignore you guys the way you're ignoring me"

that did it, and there's no calling a shot like that back once its out.  She comes around to talk but I'm not in the mood.  I tell her I'm irritated because it's berkeleying crowded and I've been sitting there for hours without a single english word being spoken, and how the moment I get up to message the family some guy steals my chair right next to her.  I look down and see she's about to cry... and she offers to make it better (we can talk in english, I'm sorry, I did ask that guy to move.  She actually thought this was one of the better nights our team was having...).  It's about here that I'm feeling like a complete shiny happy person.

"Ok, listen." I say.  "It's just my temper, I'm just way over-tired.  It's not fair to ask the entire group of Slovakians to speak English because of one person.  It's just my temper, and it doesn't need to be fixed.  Just let me go be mad tonight and I'll be over it before morning".

I excuse myself from the group (politely) and head back to the tent, but I never do get any sleep no matter how hard I try.  In the morning, I'll blame the wind for keeping me awake but it was just my head being way over-tired and pushed too far.  I've been borrowing energy to get to the camps each day and not taking time to re-fill it. 

Well, maybe tomorrow will be better.  It's an African super-marathon and we think we're going to take it in one jump to have a day of rest.  That should help things a bit.

One thing that keeps circling around in my brain "Not all 'good times' were all that 'good' when you're going through them"

Good times.

EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/6/23 5:02 p.m.

I have that same yellow egg carrier for camping, it's great. 

Loving the story, thanks for taking the time to do the report. 

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/9/23 12:02 p.m.
EvanB said:

I have that same yellow egg carrier for camping, it's great. 

Loving the story, thanks for taking the time to do the report. 

Isn't it awesome!  It's the simple things, I tell ya.  laugh

wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/9/23 12:26 p.m.

This is soooo good!


Thank you for putting this together!

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