Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some Photos and the low down

So finally, I managed to get a few moments to put up some pictures. These are what we have so far. More will be added in the future.

Digi Roll (France--Spain--Morrocco)
Roll 1 (London--Czech Out--Morrocco)
Roll 2 (Morrocco)
Roll 3 (Morrocco--Mauritania--Mali)
Roll 4 (Mali--Burkina Faso)
Roll 5 (Nigeria--Cameroon)

In other news, we still haven't heard back as to the fate of the beloved Lady Deathwish. I'm in contact with Ants [the rally director] and she said she'd email me once it's taken care of. I guess the Lady is back on her feet, but they are awaiting customs to assign a tax value to her so she can be sold.

If you are interested here is an email from Ants about the fate of some of the other cars.


Dear teams

After much hoo-ha and procrastination by customs, and in the midst of a tropical rainstorm, the auction of the mighty Africa Rally steeds finally went ahead on Wednesday. The crowds gathered, tensions rose, the rain hammered down and the cars girded their loins for a new life in Africa. All that was missing was the auctioneer. As time ticked on and the crowds began to shuffle their feet impatiently, it became clear that the auctioneer had taken fright and was not going to turn up. Either that or she had been bound and gagged by customs.

More heated discussions ensued and twenty minutes later the first two cars had gone under the hammer of a replacement auctioneer for 460,000 CFA and 430, 000 CFA respectively. The replacement was none other than Ed Hawkins, of the Fairbridge Car, who did a truly marvellous impression of a seasoned professional and sold all but one of the 25 cars in less than three hours. The irony is that the one car not sold was his very own trusty VW.

Despite the rain and the hold-ups the auction was a big success. The top price was fetched by Wrong Way Down’s Daihatsu Mira, which went for a whopping 1510000 CFA (£1819.23), the lowest by the Adam’s Brothers’ Nova Merit, which went for 180,000 CFA (£216.86). The total given to CWAF, our chosen beneficiary of the sales, was 7964689 CFA (£9596). They are going to use the money to build a much needed new quarantine at their forest site in Mefou, near Yaounde. So a very big thank you to all of you for not only doing the rally but for giving your cars to such a good cause.

Auction Breakdown
Team Car Sale Price (CFA)
Battlestar Africa I 1994 Blue Ford Fiesta 460,000
Battlestar Africa II 1994 Red Ford Fiesta 430,000
Adams Brothers 1990 Vauxhall Nova Merit 180,000
Fairbridge Car 1989 VW Polo 230,000
Fools from the Stix 1988 Red Vauxhall Nova 230,000
Great Balls of Fur 1988 Suzuki Supercarry 240,000
If it don’t work hit it 1989 blue vauxhall Nova 180,000
Iron Lion Zion 1993 Red Peogeot 106 200,000
Le Dahlia 1999 orange Daewoo Matiz 990,000
The Black Sheep 2000 Fiat Seicento 710,000
Risk it for a Biscuit 1995 blue fiat punto 780,000
Return of the Heroes 1994 Green ford fiesta 410,000
Sandbox Warriors 1996 spider Nissan micra 720,000
Wrong Way Down 2000 Silver Daihatsu Mira 1,510,000
M-Tak Attack 1994 blue Nissan micra 850,000
Carlops to Cameroon 1987 white Suzuki SJ 1,140,000
Camerooned 1996 Red Fiesta 385,000
Joshua Tree Motoring Club
Team Triumph 1981 Brown Triumph 200,000
Two men and a Micra 1993 White Nissan Micra 810,000
Team Zebra 1984 Ford Fiesta 310,000
Scaredy cats do Africa 1992 fiat panda 250,000
Speedy Gonzales 1986 black Suzuki SJ 900,000
Sandbox Savants 1988 Black Suzuki SJ 900,000
Africa Shox Blue Peugeot 106 400,000

Hope life is treating you all well and see you at the reunion on December.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

WE MADE IT!!!!!.....sort of

Right this minute Anthony and I are in or nearby Gatwick International Airport in London. We survived teh nearly 10,000 miles trek from Hyde Park to Kribi!!! However, Lady Deathwish did not make it. After our last post in Nigeria, everything we seemed to put our fingers to seemed to die whether it was our car or the internet [hence no posts for over a week].

The beautiful lady made a valiant effort as the oldest vehicle to participate in an Adventurists sponsored rally. She made it to Cameroon, but fell a mere 1500km short. We had to part ways with our car, our home, our friend in the Northern Cameroon town of Garoua.

The terrible roads of nigeria proved to be too much for her to handle. The last 1000 miles were a frustrating time filled with stops and repairs and eventually disappointment. In her final few days the Lady had to have numerous parts re-welded and finding VW bug parts in this remote area proved to be quite difficult.

A brief rundown of the final repairs and problems:
A) the engine was removed to check clutch and pressure plate, turned out we had snapped the clutch pedal and had to be rewelded. The guys who did the repairs actually fixed up our electrical as well for free. while in the same yard the welder also welded the holes in our exhaust so it didn't fall off.
B) At one point during a treacherous dirt road the VW went airborne at about 40km[25mph] which caused the front end of the chasis to collapse once we nosedived into the corrugated road. The front tunnel houseing our gasline had shattered into four pieces and had to be rewelded. we had to drive the 3km back to the last village with the steering wheel in our lap.
c) the starter was acting up and this may have been in conjunction with the fuel pump concking out because we had to bump start the car for 2.5 days once in a dry riverbed between the cameroon and nigeria border with 15 ft riverbanks with a 45 degree angle.

In the end we got the car towed to the Wildlife College, which works with the Cameroon Wildlife Aid fund, and was a contact of the Adventurists in emergencies.

AFter that we hopped a bus to NGaoundere. Took an overnight train to Yaounde. Then jumped a bus to Kribi. So we made the final party on the 16th. I was so glad that the Adventurists decided to throw me a birthday party. It was really cool seeing the minister of tourism from Cameroon eating my birthday cake.

The party was awesome, with the exception of Ben and Bob, our entire convoy made it for the party and we had a blast. The Sandbox Savants, the Black Sheep, If it don't work hit it, and the Spider-Micra were all there. In total 10 teams showed up and we had a blast. Then on Monday morning we left.

From there we headed up to Douala to book flights home and to see the site of the Auction. Douala looked like a pit. This might have been just a factor of our travel weary minds but the bustle and constant danger of muggings really turned a lot of people off to the placec. Add on the problems the Customs officers [too high import tax] made led to none of the cars being auctioned the first day. Afterwards they reduced the tax by 40% so hopefully next week the auction goes off wiht success.

Now i'm heading back to Vancouver, and Anthony is flying to San Diego tomorrow. It's been a long journey but I'm really glad to have made the trip.

We both plan on putting our 'Final Thoughts' up in the coming weeks so stay tuned. We also plan on throwing up [not litterally] some photos and videos.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Nigeria = Murphy's law

this is the fourth attempt to make a post, the power keeps crashing due to the rainstorm.

terrible roads = twice broken steering column
wet distributor caps = hour long stops for drying
rain = slow to no driving
power outages = no shower and no internet

but despite all this which i wish i could elaborate on, I'm liking nigeria. The landscape and people are really nice. But the delays are quite frustrating. After being ahead or on schedule, we have fallen behind 3 days in Nigeria alone. From teams that have gone ahead of us, Cameroon should be much of the same. We are honestly hoping to make the Adventurist's end of race party on the 16th, but that is looking tougher and tougher as the days drift by.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jibberish in a few minutes

Today we arrived in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. It appears to be the end of our little caravan for now. The Sandbox Savants are heading off to Niger, If it don’t work hit it is heading straight to Benin, Ben and Bob are heading home with the outside chance that Bob will jump into Kirin’s car and join us on the Togo route, while the Irish are heading home as well.

Tonight we are having a combo party for Doug’s birthday and for our imminent departure. Then in the morning we’ll be blasting to Togo and hoping to get through to Benin on the same day. Hopefully; we’ll be meeting up with Tom and Steve again at the Nigeria border so we can have a three car convoy to deal with the corruption together.

Otherwise, besides a serious bout of diahrea brought on due to fatigue and a random incident at the Mauritanian border things have been going great. Nouakchott was cool and the people were friendly they tried helping us repair our tire and the other teams windshield.

The remaining time was spent resting and eating. We decided to get an early start on things the next day because it was a long dusty trail out to the Mali border.

After a few hours outside Nouakchott you could tell that you were heading south. Grass started to appear and the trees more frequent. At one point I thought I was looking out on a golf course with smashed up cars dotting the area.

Finally; once we got to Mali everything was beautiful. The border crossing; the sunset, the scenery, the people, it all was a pleasure to look at. Everything was nice and you could buy beer!!!! It was actually a shame that we drove straight through the southwest side in only two and a half days.

Then once we got to Burkina Faso it was nearly the same as Mali. The only major difference is that the rains had started. Every night since we got to Burkina it’s rained all night and my poor tent just can’t handle it. So we’ve slept inside a church garage and under a makeshift tarp/tent/car apparatus that keeps some of the water out. But otherwise it is quite refreshing to be able to go out at night and rinse the salt and sweat off your body before you sleep.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Arrived in Mali the other day and ended up staying on a flat landscape that overlooked the horizon. It was a great start to a great time in Mali. Bamako was chaos to drive through and I had to pay a fine for a missing headlight. Last night we stayed at a campsite and had a refreshing well deserved beer. Right now we are off to Burkina Faso in hopes to cross the border today.

PS: Realizing a flight home will cost me 5 to 7 grand is horrifying since i dont have that....hahahahahaha ehhhhh boohooooo

Monday, July 28, 2008

A proper update from Dakhla

Ok, so today was cool we had a major vehicle malfunction, a taste of real desert settings, and a great relief.

Yesterday when we were driving down the highway I saw a bloated dead camel on the side of the road. It was so much bigger than the live ones we have seen grazing alongside the road. I pointed it out but Anthony was a bit slower and missed it. One of the other teams in our convoy actually stopped and took a picture so perhaps we can get a copy.

Then today as we were driving down the highway we had a tail wind and flat ground so we were traveling along at a whopping 100 kph (60mph). At this point Anthony noticed a bit of rumbling outside the front left corner of the car. He looked out the window and I saw glass and black stuff come flying over the hood of the car. I had thought he had hit something. So we pulled over and lucky we did.

It appears the bungee cord holding down the hood broke due to excess wear and caused the hood to shake up and down. Somehow, something came loose or maybe the hood smashed the front headlight which then caused a very sharp very thick piece of glass (the bit of the lamp attached to the power cables) to dangle in front of the front tire. This piece of glass then shredded all the tread off the tire. When we stopped we essentially were rolling on an inflated tube. So we changed out tires and were on our way the road again in 30 minutes.

The rest of the trip to Dakhla was more or less quiet apart from us needing to remove the headlamp housing sine it was deformed and rubbing against our new tire, The Sandbox Savants (the other American team and they are from boston) ran out of gas and had to pull their jerry cans to refill, and then on the approach to the peninsula where dakhla is there was wind storm like conditions.

The stretch of road going from the Gendarme post into the Dakhla peninsula was and open road that spanned between two hillsides. It led down to a beautiful bay where people were windsurfing and parasailing. But the winds from the hillsides that these people were enjoying were blastin our car with sand. We had to prop open our car doors while we were driving to roll up our windows (the roll cage blocks the window cranks so they can only go up and down with the doors open).

Fortunately for us the two other teams in our caravan arrived in Dakhla a few minutes before us and met a British couple. They gave us the names and contacts of some guides that can take us down the coastal route to Mauritania so we don't blow ourselves up in the mine fields. Looking forward to riding the tidal beaches!!!!!

Now we head back to our bungalows to enjoy some beers which have been three days in the making. Due to the strict Muslim culture here finding alcohol is extremely hard. A few frosty brews at mere cents a piece will be so glorious for our souls!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Western Sahara

So we have made it to the Western Sahara. The French keyboards are quite a pain for updating but weĆ¹ll perservere. After our crazy night drive we headed into Rabat. Managed to get our Mauritanian visas in the works and ran into several other teams who were doing the same.

They told us they were staying in a clearing of woods just outside of town and we were invited to join. So after the embassy we all headed out to camp and we got a much needed rest and food. Afterwards, Anthony started to get over the culture shock attached with large African cities; the noise, the mayhem, the smell, etc.

So now we are in Layounne and looking to make it to Mauritania in two days. We should be able to make it barring any major setbacks. Based on the nature of our convoy it should not be a problem.

Wish we had more time to elaborate but internet cafes are slow and not very common. perhaps we can do a proper update in Noukchott while we are waiting for our Mali visas.