2 3 4
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/17/23 5:08 p.m.
VikkiDp said:

Wowww!!! Continuation is here! Love your stories man smiley

It seems like Bill was already very tired and exhausted. What day of the trip it was?

A couple of teams are definitely lucky to have you around yes

What's next?

Officially that was our 9th or 10th of driving, but only the 8th stage (out of about 15)

Next update with start stage 9 (no spoilers, though!)

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/17/23 5:09 p.m.
lownslow said:

You are much braver than I am.

Your story is very engaging.

Thanks man!  It's crazy to see how fast this goes when I'm just looking over notes.  It seemed SO MUCH LONGER when we were in it...

Sonic UberDork
3/17/23 8:23 p.m.

Really enjoying following along, thanks for documenting it all so well for us.  

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/20/23 1:52 p.m.
Sonic said:

Really enjoying following along, thanks for documenting it all so well for us.  

Thanks, man!  You know, in that spirit I really should show you what was going on in the background while we all licked our wounds in camp.  To give a little background, there was another potential border crossing point at a city called "Rosso".  However, it's mentioned several times in the roadbook (in BIG red letters) "DO NOT CROSS AT ROSSO!"

Here's the discussion from the whatsapp chat:


Seeing Misha's posts about people wanting 10-euros at every bridge in the 2020 Rally (for which she was a participant) gives us a little more insight as to why she and Lukas were so adamant about not paying that man the 10-euros he was asking for, but I do have to say that I don't think we would have won if we tried to fight it.

On the Budapest To Bamako Facebook page, things were similar but there was some pushback from other participants:

Like I said though, our data connection at this point was so bad that only the whatsapp chat was coming through.  The facebook page only worked if you stood in one area of camp (kind of near the bar building) and we only discovered that late enough that all the good posts were deleted cheeky

You can see some common themes developing though.  None of them pretty.

Good times.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/23/23 1:07 p.m.

There I was...  Still in Africa...




Up at 4:45am and there's no message from Jack about turning around.  Looks like I better get ready to keep punching south...

It has to be stress that's waking me up this early... I mean back home I would habitually wake up at 4am to do stuff, but that was after 6 or so hours of sleep.  I got less than 4 last night.  There's no reason I should be up this early.

Anyhoo, yesterday the driver's and passenger side windows quit rolling up and down.  In the silence that is this morning I can hear that the relays aren't "clicking" when I hit the switch.  All the fuses and circuit breakers checked good yesterday, and the switch for the windows is getting 12v today...  No idea what's going on here.

I decide to take the door card off, but don't feel like unpacking the truck to get to tools, so I use my swiss army knife and find a broken connection near a splice on one of the wires.  It's not terrible or sloppy so it must not have been put there by the previous owner. I swear, everything that guy touched was bodge-city.

The wire is red/white and I dont see it on my drawing...


The wire I show on my drawing should be black/brown...  Just for giggles I jumped it back into the circuit and nothing changed so I put it in the "later later" bin.  I'll figure out in a minute that it goes to the power door lock circuit that doesn't work in the truck (I never needed power locks, so I never bothered looking into why the switch didnt work).

I went to look at the back side of the door switch again to pull 12v from pin 1, and the back of the switch fell off.

Well THERE"s your PROBLEM!

Unfortunately my headlamp picked this exact moment to die...  It's a cheap-o unit that takes 2-AA batteries and I really cant believe I killed them this fast.  But I digress.

Ok, so I work my magic on the back of that connector and get everything back into place.  Once it's plugged back in, the windows work so I put the door card back on (yay!).

Unfortunately there's no positive restraint holding that connector on so there is a chance that it'll fall back off if things get too vibratey today (like they were yesterday, which probably caused this problem).  There's also no spot for an eskapasko (zip tie, but you already learned that word) so I don't think I can bodge this one.  It's just going to have to hold.

all in all, I had it done up by 5:50 with nothin but a swiss army knife cheeky

The sun is coming up now so I can take pictures of the camp site:


Jeeze...  All those beer bottles laying around, it looks like the Slovakian van team had a party after I zonked out last night.  I must have been REALLy out of it.

anyhoo, I take care of a few more items with the truck and spend a little time cleaning it out of all the trash from yesterday.  Once that's done, I open the road book and read about today's adventures.  "Expect to spend 12-14 hours driving..."

berkeley that.  Not just "no", but "hell no".  I am way too tired of having my teeth beat out, my head hurts, and I need a beer and an ATM machine (in that order, preferably).  I decide that the off-road section is not in the cards for us today and instead we'll probably travel to Louga -> Touba -> Kaffrine -> Tampacounda.  All roads, so things will hopefully be easier.  All in all, it should only be 384kms.

People were up and the camp was packed by about 8:45.


In that last picture you can Andrew Szabo's "00" car off to the right.  He gets stuck in the sand and he's not the only one.  LOTS of people in 4-wheel drive vehicles are getting stuck as well.  A LandRover Defender winches itself to a tree, but the tree really looks too small to be of much use.  A Toyota LandCruiser steps in to help Szabo.

Team Slow-Vakia is the first of us to be ready, and we all push their Pajero to get it going.  Once it's got momentum, it doesn't stop.  We'll catch up later.

In our truck we're getting seated and I'm excited to show Lukas that I fixed the windows for him.  I roll it up, and then I roll it down.  Woo-hoo!

I'm kind of overcompensating by being sillier than usual, so I inform Katka that I fixed something for her too and point to the digital clock on the dash, which I've set to the correct time (it's been bothering her OCD).  We're really not getting a long very well at this point so I'm trying to make an effort to get the day started off on the right foot.

The Slovakians have a term for this:  "Ponorka" and it means "Submarine" (your Slovakian word for the day!).  Just like in a Sub, we're all stuck together and tired of each other and there's nothing we can do about it.  We're not being mean to each other or anything, but we're all annoyed.  I made some notes about some of the other things we're not doing:

1) We're not even bothering with the GPS coordinates or route planning anymore (too exhausted)

2) We're not bothering following along with the roadbook (it never seems to be what everyone is doing every day anyway, as things are always changing or being interrupted)

3) We haven't been to a meeting since that one the night after I lost my temper about the Slovakians speaking Slovakian.

4) We didn't even stop for lunch yesterday.  And this was weird once I realized that it happened.  Back in Morocco you'll remember that I was getting anxious that we were stopping for HOURS to eat lunch...  This time none of us even noticed.

Anyhoo, time to set off and I still have the hubs in from yesterday.  We dig in a bit, but get out of camp without any issues.  Thankfully this should be the last day we have to deal with sand.

Out the other end, I unlock the hubs and put the truck back in 2wd before we hit pavement.  When we do, the window doesn't roll up.  What's worse, is when we try then it kills the radio.

Must be a bad ground?

No time to troubleshoot now, we're on the road and headed for the first gas station.  Once there, we ask for the usual "sans plomb" before what might be the last remaining brain cell surviving in my dead brain yells "STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I relay that brain cell's message to the attendant who's pumping gas, and he complies.

We've just pumped 9000-francs of fuel (about $15) and I ask Lukas and Katka how much money we all have.

It's not enough.  Katka bought those beers last night, and I didn't have much of ANYTHING to change at the border.  Luckily Bananas was with us, and Roman covers the difference.  Good guy, that Roman.

Ok.  So we still don't really have fuel, and now we KNOW we don't have cash.  The team is still kicking around the gas station so I have a look at that ground wire for the window.  I give it a little wiggle and tighten the screw holding it down.  It works!!!!

and then it doesn't...

Sitting back in the truck, Katka goes to sit in the back and notices the clean passenger floor.

"Bill, when you cleaned the truck this morning, did you throw away a tissue?"

"I might have.  If I did, then it was dirty for sure"

"I think it had my rocks in it from Mauritania"

oh ffuuuuuuuuuuuuudge. 

There was a moment of silence and then she just got in and sat in the back seat.  That last brain cell of mine is working overtime trying to think how we're going to fix this.  I mean, it's not like any of us are going to travel back through Mauritania ever again in our lives...

Except i AM!!!!  I'm driving north!  It's going to be the same route since we took pavement the whole way.  There's no reason I cant just stop at the same place and grab rocks and send them to her back in Europe!

I tell her as much, but really she's too beat to care.  I don't push the issue any further, and Lukas eventually hops in the passenger seat.

I guess that's that then.  We're off and headed down the pavement and the road is much nicer here.  The houses are tile (instead of whatever scrap they were built from in Mauritania), there are lots of small villages, people are well clothed (lots of "Lakers" and "Chicago Bulls" jerseys), and women are carrying things on the tops of their heads! (Katka takes lots of pictures of that).

84FSP UberDork
3/23/23 2:31 p.m.

This whole trip just sounds wild.  

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/23/23 3:16 p.m.

We get to the next big town but have lost Bananas.  We try to navigate with our GPS anyway, but it's just cutting us right through the center of town and doesn't show anything resembling a bank...

Katka was able to get a messsge through on Whatsapp, and it turns out that Bananas parked right in the middle of 4-banks!  These guys are either dang good, or the luckiest guys I know.  They share their location and Katka navigates us to them from the back seat.

Unfortunately since the windows wont roll up, someone needs to stay with the truck at all times.  I volunteer to stay and Katka goes into the bank first.  This isn't me being a gentleman, I figure if she goes in first then she can do the work of figuring everything out and then I'll get instructions and wont have to think.  100% self preservation at this point.

While I waited, I took a few pictures.


When Katka gets back she tells me where the ATM is, and that I'll need the help of a man in yellow standing near the machine.

ooooo-kay, here goes.

I get to the machine and put the card in.  Everything starts normal and then goes blank.  I start looking around for this guy who's supposed to help me and like magic he's right there!  he pushes a few buttons on the screen and then 200,000 francs spits out.


I get back to the truck and Katka wants to swap to go fruit shopping.  I decided the truck would be fine for 2-minutes and went with.  Again, I'm noticing that the girls are getting a lot of attention and I'm not really a fan of it.  The attention turns into cat calls ("Kat calls"?) which makes me feel like it was a good thing I went with.

"Such a beautiful girl, old man!"

"Old man, you have such a beautiful girl"

They're from behind us, and only start after we pass on this dirt road we're walking down.  We continue on and ignore them.


We find a shop with cold water and buy some.  It comes in bags now laugh

After we got our water, I tell Katka that I want to find a shop that sells beer.  She want's to wait until we get closer to camp, but I'm dead serious about wanting a cold refreshing beverage tonight and don't want to wait until it's too late to buy some.  I get the attention of Julius who's driving the Bananas truck.  "Yo.  Can you guys work your magic and find a beer shop?"

"Sure can!"

"Beautiful.  We'll follow you"


We walk back the way we came and the buys doing the cat calling were gone.  Back in the truck we're off and driving, this time I'm in the passenger seat.


We're beyond the edge of town now, and there was no stops to attempt to buy beer.  This has me more than irritated and really the root cause isn't the beer but the fact that I'm getting no sleep and not eating right, but that's not what my brain tells me is wrong.  Right now my brain is hung up on the fact that I'm up every morning with coffee for everyone, I'm fixing the truck, I fixed the windows, and I'm constantly driving while everyone else is hung over.  I'm tired of not being a part of any conversation since they're 90% in Slovakian and I have no idea what's going on or being said.  Maybe I'll get on the radio and speak Hungarian until I find someone with palinka (home made liquor) and not share.  Maybe I'll queue up a bar or a liquor store on my phone and detour there when its my turn to drive next.  you know, take matters into my own hands.

But while my brain is heated, I'm not 100% stupid yet.  Buying palinka and not sharing would be the wedge that split the log and could break the team for good.  So would detouring the truck while the others protested.  I spend the next hour or so in my head and calm my brain back down.  I'm not the only one helping, everyone is in different ways.  Katka cooked dinner yesterday (those freeze dried camp meals), she also made sandwiches when we were working on the truck in Mauritania.  Misha had coffee made for us that day, Julius just helped fix the exhaust leak (which the plug we made is holding, by the way) and two of the Bananas (Roman and Peter) don't even speak english.  What would the situation be like if the rolls were swapped.  Would they be different if it was one Slovak and 20 English speakers?  Would we all magically speak Slovakian?

no.  of course not.

A show I used to watch called "Firefly" had an episode that covers situations like this pretty well.  It's called "War Stories" and involves a husband who gets jealous because his wife and the captain of the ship they're on served in a war together and had lots of exciting war stories and experiences they reminisced about.  I wont spoil it, but it does a good job of pointing out that exactly none of those stories were at all fun when they were in the middle of them (they were SCARY).  Plus what makes them so great is the fact that they didn't know they were going to survive when they were in them.

So here we are and I'm positive I'm not the only one who is miserable.  We're all panorka here, and there's no getting around it.  And we're not finished yet.  We have a long way to go before we reach that finish line, and if we're going to make it then it's going to take all of us to get there.

Besides, how many people do I know that have been immobilized in Africa?  How many people had the "search for a tow truck and trailer" experience we did?  How many people made a tent from two trucks and sat in it for 7-hours?  How many people changed a hub in an African dirt parking lot?  How many people got a war story from a Mauritanian road?

Shoot.  How many people saw a Senegal scam at the border the size of the one we did???  I mean that was some damn thorough scam work right there, and they took every team for at least 100-euro.  Those guys made OUT!

ok.  so we're exhausted, but calm again.  The window even decided to work for a bit, and then it quit again.  Maybe the relay is overheating?  I mean it is HOT down here...  I dunno.

We still get waves from kids as we drive through towns, and of course we wave back.  At one of the towns there was a small group of children and Bananas pulled over to hand them some stuff.  Candy and other small donations, really.  Nothing spectacular.  But then a crowd gathered around their truck and it started getting BIG.  We and team Slow-Vakia got back in our trucks but Bananas was still handing stuff out.  When they did get back in, more people came to the passenger side with their hands out trying to reach in and then some of them started singing and dancing.  Adults too!  Clapping and then they'd spin around real quick.  I didn't know how they were going to drive forward without hurting someone, but they did.

Then it was our turn, and we got crowded too.  Lukas was still driving and the seas parted for us, but dang if crowds like that don't make me nervous.  Especially when the energy level in them gets dialed up to 11 that quick.

With that behind us, and me having rested a bit since we got out of town my brain cell was back at it and reminded me that back in Morocco there was a Hungarian team that had "gallons of palinka" and was willing to trade for a second vehicle to go with them through Mauritania at high speeds.  I got on the whatsapp chat and contacted them directly.  If they had "gallons" they must have some left, and if they had some left then this would solve our "Bill needs a damn drink" problem for tonight.  I offer them money if they'll part with a liter.

Having sent the message, I brag to the other two that I have a secret plan and if it works out then they'll call me a hero.  They're well used to my nonsense at this point so a "yeah, ok" is all I get.

The response I get back is disheartening.  Apparently they partied pretty hard these last couple days and are down to their last liter or two.

oh well.

I break the news to the team and Katka replies with "You thought you could buy palinka and we would call you a hero?"

"Um, yeah!" I say back

"Bill.  I like beer.  You're going to have to try harder than that".

This does break the ice though, and we're talking like we used to.  Katka starts it by saying that we don't have to worry because this "Magical Bivouac" we're going to tonight is going to have (insert dream here).  This gets all our imagination going and Lukas and I contribute.


ooh!  With pool side bars!

No, an ocean dip!

Laundry service!

A masseuse!

(this goes on for quite a while)

And just like that all seems normal again.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/23/23 3:20 p.m.



Our lunch stop is in another big city.  When we park, Misha walks over to a man running a stand selling stuff and gives him some money.  "You watch our cars?" she asks, and he agrees.

We stopped because Bananas thought they saw a sign for a restaurant on one of the big buildings.  We have to cross a busy street with a divider to get there, but we do.  When we do, there's nothing there but stands all along the sidewalk.  A quick conversation happens and then we're walking down dirt back roads again.  Again the girls are getting a LOT of attention and again I'm very uncomfortable.

I'm not just uncomfortable because of the girls, but they certainly complicate things.  Us being outsiders, we stick out like sore thumbs and there's just no hiding it.  Plus we're walking down a road with only one exit I know of and that's easily blocked.  Any other direction takes us away from our vehicles.

I don't like it.

We stop to eat at a place that is cooking food on their back patio.  It's fenced in on three sides, and the remaining side is attached to their building, and inside of that is a picnic table we can sit at.  And that's what we do:


Lunch is going to be fish with rice and cabbage, and ordering it is as easy as telling the lady who's doing the cooking how many plates we would like (and negotiating price).  Seeing how casual everyone is being really makes me think that Bananas has zero situational awareness ( mean, you don't just walk down side streets and alleys when you've got a reputation as a portable ATM machine!!!).  I'm leaning against the only door frame into the place and am scanning the street outside.  About 50-feet away is a man in dark sunglasses and a briefcase with a clear window into it.  It's made to display the gold bracelets and other trinkets he's got inside.  He's staring right at us, and I'm staring right back at him with my "I'm really not amused" face on.

This goes on for quite some time.

Eventually he breaks eye contact and walks down the street we walked up to get here.  "We've just been cased by a salesman" I tell no one in particular.

"What does that mean?" Katka asks.

"Probably nothing, but if he comes back with other sales people we're cornered in this place."

I look back out and notice that I'm not the only one watching out.  There's a similar doorway into the patio section where the food is being made, and Roman is leaning up against it basically doing the same thing I am ('cept he much better at looking casual about it, but I catch him scanning the crowd periodically).  This makes me feel loads better.  Roman is a big guy, I'm not.  Did I mention that he was in the military?

Anyhoo, food is served and it's not bad!  It's pretty good, actually.  Except I've been to Dehli, India before and I am VERY aware of the effects that street food can have on our tummies so there's another thing I'm worried about.  But we eat, and are even joined by another patron who is eating by himself.

Back out the way we came in, and again it's AWFUL with the attention.  One guy who was walking straight towards Katka and is basically trying to look down her shirt RIGHT in front of her (you can see in the pictures that no one is dressed provocative, and he certainly cant see anything).  When he looks up he sees me glaring at him and scurries off.  And again, I pick up on the cues that Roman was in the military.  When the crowd stops to look at something, he naturally comes to rest at whatever bottleneck there is.  If I'm near the front of the crowd, he's near the back (and vise versa).  I like this guy.

Back at the trucks, Misha finds the guy who watched our rigs and gives him a little more cash.  Just like that, it's off we go:




Jokes are sparse now.  We can tell it's going to be another late night...  How in the world does 384km take all day to drive???  Funnily enough, we've all been drinking water but none of us have gone pee all day.  Katka was the first to bring it up, and we joked about it for a second before falling back into our current stride.

I officially mark this as the point where my denial ends, and acceptance begins.  I dunno what I was expecting, but this wasn't at all anything like I saw on youtube. 

The Baobab trees we're seeing are getting a lot of interest from the group and eventually we see a team stopped at one.  We decide to join them:



That's all the time we had for tourism though, and I know the guy in that video said the Baobab fruit "smelled good" but I 100% do not remember being able to smell it...  To quote two pieces of music, we're "on the road again" and (from Robert Earl Keen) "the road goes on forever"...

The rest of the drive is completely uneventful, just LONG.  Darkness settles in, and again we've got the KC Daylighters going.  We're pretty good at getting the covers off at our last fuel stop before dark, and then putting them back on in the morning.  Not always needed though, as Bananas have spotlights on their truck as well, and we're usually following them.

Randomly in some one-street town, Bananas pulls over and we do to.  We all go in a store and they ask "Beer?"

The guy at the store counter doesn't have any, but the shopper inside takes us around the side of the building (all shacks, really) and down an alley.  As we go further down, the sounds of futbol (soccer, to you and I) grow louder.  Oh my god.... We're going to a bar!!!!

We enter and there's only a couple people inside.  The owner of the establishment takes us to a chest cooler that's not plugged in and opens it up.  He gives us the prices, and we buy a fair amount.  Not enough to really "tie one on" but enough that everybody should get one or two (there are a lot of us, remember).

I am floored at the luck (or skill!) these Bananas guys have, I tell you what.  That was some random-ass amazing stuff!

This definitely lifts the mood, but even that can only do so much.  Close to the turnoff for camp, Katka and Lukas are on their phones checking messages.  Apparently the camp has moved.

Some vehicles head out and away from the turnoff, so we follow them.  A little later on, there's a call for help.  Someone is broken down, and the Landcruiser that wants to go rescue them needs a tire.

I mention that our spare may work, but it's kind of a long shot.  Lukas was about to message, but didn't.  We've reached a new point in our trip.  We are now too tired to assist anyone else.  Even Katka's quit picking up rocks "I'm done doing stuff for other people right now" was her answer.

Not long after, we reach the turnoff for our new camp.  It's an airport that seems like a pretty popular overlanding spot.  And by airport I mean a once "packed gravel" landing strip with zero facilities and the weeds aren't too tall so in theory an small aircraft could land...

It's 2100 when we arrive and we set up camp in the dark, and even pitch the shelter we bought as a "poop tent".  It sets up in 2-seconds, but has no floor to it.  The idea was that we could use it to poop in or shower in, and the latter is what we do.


There's no service on my phone here, and as you can see in the picture, no one else has reception either (otherwise they'd be staring at their phones).  The mosquitos are also bad.  I've got some strong repellant and a few candles.  We take turns spraying each other down.  ( One of the lamps you see in the picture is a bug zapper, we use that too. )

We also need to take a minute and do our covid testing for the next border crossing tomorrow (we kind of missed that at the last one and don't want to press our luck again).  After all the stares, and attention we got in Senegal I really can't wait to be out of it.

If there's one plus to this place, its that there are vendors selling souvenirs, food, and beer.  We stop in and try to buy food, but only the beer was available.  I know we had some from our previous stop, but I really need a brain break.  I buy a 12-pack of 1/2 liters and carry it back to the campsite.  The seller was only worried that I needed to make sure to bring the plastic rack back to him with the empties so he can get his cash deposit.  No problem man, because when I get back I buy 12 more.

Too tired to cook, and all of us on an empty stomach, the beer hits hard and the mood lightens accordingly.  When it's my turn, i take a 2-liter water bottle with me and head to the shower tent to scrub my stinky and itchy spots.  It's been days at this point and I am RIPE.  This was hands down the best 2-liter water bottle shower ever.  Back at camp I melt back into my chair and don't move anything but my beer holdin arm for the rest of the night.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/23/23 4:20 p.m.
84FSP said:

This whole trip just sounds wild.  

oh man.  we're not even half way in!  laugh

2 3 4
Our Preferred Partners