A new day dawns on the Sahara
Waking up covered in a fine layer of sand, the Ricks come to terms with the last 24 hours. On one hand, the kindness of complete strangers has seen them safely through some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. On the other, they are still stuck with a broken BMW in middle of the Sahara.
Mercifully, the morning has brought reduced winds and less airborne sand. The Ricks quickly break down camp and proceed to tow the BMW to the border.
The plan is to simplify the border crossing by checking out of Mauritania on foot (pushing the BMW). Then find a truck to carry the BMW across no-mans-land, through the Moroccan border, and then as far north as possible.
Hitching another ride North
Exiting Mauritania is decidedly more simple than entering and by mid-morning the Ricks are searching for a camion willing to give them a ride. Relatively quickly a local standing around the border helps us find a Moroccan from Agadir who is headed north and will gladly give us passage.. for a fee.
After some negotiations, Kyle secures passage for himself and the BMW to Dakhla. Online sources tell the Ricks there is a trustworthy mechanic there as well as plenty to do in case of extended stay. Kit will follow behind on the KTM.
Back in the 80s there was a major conflict between Morocco and the Polisario (a Sahrawi group backed by Mauritania and Algeria) over the territory of what was then “Spanish Sahara”. Spain ceeded control of the territory. Stepping on the toes of the local populace excited to finally have their own governance, Morocco quickly swooped in to claim the territory as theirs. The western 85% of the territory is held by Morocco in a sort of “Cold war” and fortified by a massive sand “berm” with barracks, artillery positions and the longest minefield in the world.
..this is a land between countries, but also a battlefield.
When crossing between Mauritania and Morocco controlled Western Sahara, there is a 5Km stretch of uncontrolled territory which at one point was the no mans land between the trenches of the conflicting parties. It is a very strange experience to cross it, realizing that not only is this a land between countries, but also a battlefield. The Polisario technically is in control of this strip of land (however they do not conduct any administration), and do not take kindly to any evidence that you are a supporter of Morocco.
Coming up to the Mauritanian side of the border, the pavement literally just ends, and out on the horizon you can see the Moroccan side, but in between it is a complete off road traverse.
Morocco decided to creep from their border and paved a 1 km long strip into no mans land to make the passage easier.
Once we made it to the Moroccan side, it was an added complexity to tell all the officials the story of why the bike was on the back of a truck. The driver became increasingly tired of waiting and tried his best to hurry the process however it was about as effective as trying to push a freight train by hand. Kit, making it through faster decided to cut north and meet in Dakhla to avoid riding at night.
Meanwhile.. somewhere further north
As Kyle is negotiating with his driver about continued passage to Dakhla in a timely manner, Kit is barreling north. His progress is hindered as the wind strengthens and begins to switch direction as he nears the ocean.
Dusk is looming and the prospect of yet another night of Saharan riding growing with it. Kit pushes on through the wind which as grown to be the strongest he has ever motorcycled in. Coming in at about his 10 o’clock, Kit has to lean over nearly dragging his foot-peg just to get down the straight road. Later he would calculate that the incredible headwind reduced his fuel efficiency by about 10 L/100 km (25 MPG).
First into Dakhla
As night falls Kit rolls into the seaside town of Dakhla. He quickly heads towards their agreed upon meeting place, Hotel Almohit.With no wifi at the hotel, the staff helps Kit rush to find a store selling a Moroccan SIM so he can check up on Kyle. The news isn’t good..
Back At A Random Rest Stop
At this point, the driver realized that he had Kyle in a corner. His buddy now a hundered kilometers north of him, unable to come to his aid, he decided to start putting pressure on him. He pulled up to a truck stop “I am very tired I must rest”. Kyle not wishing to die in a semi truck accident in Western Sahara was totally ok with this at first. After an hours rest, the driver began to explain to him that the agreed upon payment of 120$ was not acceptable to get to Dahkla, and that he would not move until he got more money. Kyle not wanting to be played as a sucker told the guy that he was not giving him any more money (he already made a major mistake by paying in full upfront).
“I am very tired I must rest”
Kyle and the driver proceeded to enter into a game of chicken with who cared more about their time. The driver took a 30 minute shower, had an hour long dinner, and then proceeded to lie around on his phone waiting for Kyle to get pissed off and give him money to hurry him up. Little did he know however that Kyle can be incredibly stubborn when someone thinks he is a fool. Once the sun set the driver noticed Kyle going to a store to buy 6 liters of water because he was ready for a night of camping on the side of the highway. At that point the driver decided enough is enough and finally got his ass into gear north again.
Kyle arrived in Dakhla 3 hours after kit in the middle of the night. Unfortunately there was no loading dock or ramp available, so a bunch of local guys walking down the road were recruited to help.
Bidding the driver adieu (fuck you buddy) all the bags and luggage were taken off the motorcycles into the hotel rooms (the Ricks were in for a long week ahead of them) and they fell asleep with serious anxiety about the challenge that lay ahead in fixing the BMW.