The next day dawned after a long night spent in the back of a Semi-Truck. No matter how much I wished otherwise however, my BMW still was in the same broken down state that I had left it when I parked it outside the hotel the night before. On a whim we had noticed that there was a capable mechanic in Dakhla, and decided to have the bike trucked there and no further. In the morning we tied a rope between the pegs and dragged the bike over to Yassine Auto Diak.
Yassine and co proceeded to ferociously tear into the motorcycle checking every single possible simple solution, with a ferocity only seen in West Africa. By some sort of intuition he knew exactly where all the possible broken components were located, without me needing to explain in broken French.
Unfortunately after about an hour of this testing first the wiring, then the fuel system, and then finally pulling the spark plugs we noticed a serious problem. The plugs were totally smashed in, and the compression was very low. Removing the throttle body revealed disaster:
What started as a simple diagnostic rapidly turned into a major engine overhaul. Something was broken and we had to take the engine apart to find out. I meekly let out a “sure whatever” and suddenly my entire engine was strewn all over the sidewalk, camshafts rolling around in the cracks in the concrete (“yeah we are going to have to be pretty involved cleaning everything later” Kit and I agreed). Miraculously the top end could be pulled off without dropping the engine out of the frame, and it was quickly evident what the problem was.
It was at this point that I realized that this was going to be more than a one day delay, and decided to bury my sorrows in non-alcoholic Muslim approved things.
I had always wanted to visit Dakhla, not only to see the Sahara but also because there were numerous very good surf breaks that were totally empty. Surfing is best done with nobody else, and on the coast of California that is very rare. This break however was only crowded by shanty town shacks perched on the edge of a cliff, eeking out a living catching fish for the rest of Morocco.
Kit and I had met up with a kitesurf hostel, and even though we were staying in the cheap Moroccan hotel next to the mechanic, they still took us in and drove us out to surf (because we came during the one week of the year there was no wind).
At this point however I was plucked from the fire from a guy I met on Adventurerider.com named George. George had previously been pulled out of the fire by another Overlander several years back and realized this was the time to return the favor. George had an entire used top end for my engine, admittedly with significantly more miles, but beggars cant be choosers so I quickly arranged to meet him in London to meet him (DHL has a difficult time shipping to Western Sahara ha ha)
Dakhla is perfectly positioned on the edge of western civilization, a spoke route on Royal Air Maroc’s flight network, it was far away but easy to connect through to London. The hotels were still dirt cheap and the infrastructure was good, so of all places to break down this was a perfect place. While I bought my plane tickets and prepared for 48 hours in aeroplanes and airports, Kit was excited for a break in the clouds and 2 days of amazing kitesurfing.
Dakhla has 300 windy days a year, and is on the end of a peninsula creating a large flatwater lagoon, a perfect combination for kiteboarding.
I stumbled out of the airport after my flying torture session with a new top end and 500 Dirham lighter (got had for duty at customs)
The very next day I brought the top end down to Yassine, and he brought his friend in for reassembly (disassembly is much easier obviously). And we proceeded to reassemble everything the best we could without the manual.
When trying to start the bike everyone held their breath waiting for the dulcet tones of the single cylinder turning over without assistance from the starter, but unfortunately the timing was off and everything had to be disassembled and reassembled. Eventually however with cheers from all, the bike finally ran again.
Being the strange white guys with giant motorcycles, we were used to being quite the spectacle wherever we went. This was only amplified when we returned to Yassine’s shop days on end as everyone in town with auto problems watched us struggle to fix our problem and get back to motorcycling. While sitting out of Yassine’s shop we met Mohammed, a Dakhla local who had learned English from watching American movies and TV. Having never taken an English class he was very excited to practice is English with us, and we celebrated our success of fixing the motorcycle with dinner at his house.
He had made us a very tasty fish dish, as well as made tea, and we enjoyed his hospitality thoroughly.
The next morning after a solid rest, and a test ride around town, we finally left Dakhla after 10 days stopped.