Africa 2000
The quest has begun...

It was August, 21. A sunny day, the summer this year was completely ungerman. Something was trying to hold me back, I was about to make my peace with Germany. But, as I wrote before, there was no turning back, now I had to leave. The last night was short, as it had to be spent according to the old sailors-custom. We were supposed to start at 10 o'clock, but that was just the plan and had nothing to do with reality. Nothing was ready, not even the car. It still had to be brought to the garage for a last check. How to bring a car that is well known by all police-units to the mechanic without a driver's license? We solved that problem in the worst way: Two women driving - horrible. After that the car had to be registered in my name. That should be the last action before leaving, but I still had a lot to do. I went to the pharmacy, to the train-station to pick up Almut and her brother, I made my last haircut, I packed my bags, I said good-bye to my little girl. We were finally ready at 17.00 h, seven hours after the time. It started to rain - farewell-tears.
This time I had a strange feeling, when we left. Joe was drinving and I was on the passenger-seat. Exactly the right position to get depressed. Leaving for a travel never made me depressed, but this time I knew, that it was not a round-trip. One way to wherever in Africa. All the old streets we passed, those streets I spent my youth drinving on uo and down, belonged to the past already - sweet memories. Next thing I saw, while I was looking arround, was the red light that indicates that we're low on fuel. We had three different Africa-maps aboard, but to get there we would have to travel through central and western Europe. As I wanted to figure out the best way, I was forced to realize, that we hat no Europe-Map. Well, we had a City map of Augsburg, but it didn't really help. Actually that was a map we would never need on our tour. When we stopped at the petrostation we purchased Diesel, an expensive map and I took over. Looking at the world from the driver's seat, live seemed to make sense again. No time to be depressed, the trip to the austrian border was ought to be the most adventurous part of the trip throug Europe, as I had to be aware of the german police. As soon as we crossed the border I felt free. "Here I am Man, here dare it to be!"
For a few kilometers we travelled through the better part of Germany, called Austria, then through Switzerland, down to Italy to meet the mediterranean coast. This coast would lead to Tarifa, where we expected to meet Igl. He wanted to travel down to Dakhla (Southern Morocco) with his Mitsubishi Pajero (=Montero). Dakhla was marked to be his point of return, at the same time our point of no return. Dakhla is the end of the line, it is possible to go further to the south, but only with a moroccan military-convoy, due to the mines left from the war between Morocco and Mauritania. Officially there is no return. You can leave Morocco by this way, but you can't enter from the south. Some do, but I don't know how. I never made researches, as a return was not on my plan.
Before reaching Tarifa we drove to La Manga del Mar Menor to visit some acquitances, who were there on vacation. We spent one day there. In the afternoon we got a text-message from Igl. He had almost reached Tarifa, altough he left one day later than he planned. Not bad, considering that this was his first tour to outside Germany. What have I been doing when I was eighteen? I didn't even have a license...
So we also had to live. We had enough time, but Igl's time was very limited. Time is always very limited, specially for people that have to work.
I love driving in the southern countries, people are much more relaxed than at home. Thank Allah that I didn't have to deal with that stupid, stubbern germans on the road anymore. The know how to build the best cars in the world, but they have no idea of how to drive it.

I drove the entire night and we arrived at Tarifa during sunrise and Igl was parked exactly where I told him to wait for us: In front of the military base.

I wanted to take a nap, but Igl and the spanish soldiers didn't want me to sleep there. "OK, let's go..." Germans suck! Always in a hurry. Hurry. That's the first thing that should go overboard if the destiny is Africa. We drove back to Algeciras, took the ferry to Ceuta. I preferred this way, for Ceuta is geographically Africa, but politically still Europe. It is always easier to cross a border by land than to be trapped in a port. I remember Tunis very well. Thousands of Arabs shouting right into my ears. Of course I didn't really expect that to be different in Morocco, but at least there is no port involved. I could sleep on the ferry instead of spending the time filling out immigration-papers. Another advantage is that Ceuta is a duty-free-zone. Cheap Diesel and - even mire important - cheap gas, as Igl's Pajero ran with the expensive gas, which means: Higher fuel consumption and higher price than our Diesel-engine, not only because of the torque. I told him that before. Fourwheelers should always have a Diesel-engine, because that is the most important part of a car that is built to run off the beaten tracks. Fourwheelers with gas engines are perfect cars for people that never leave the paved roads.
After a few minutes we were out of the port. No paperwar, no immigration, no border-comtrol, nothing. Igl tried to follow us from ahead and so we lost eachother. Shortly after that he called his cellphone that, for some reason, was in my car. "Let's meet at the border before crossing", he said. Finally, after years, I was on the other side of the Gibraltar-strait. Now I had to send some postcards to the same people I sent postcards three years ago. For that I needed some money. We found one of this crooks, that can be found everywhere in southern Europe. They hang arround and cheat tourists who want to change money. We gave him some austrian Shilling that were no longer valid since at least 15 years and he gave us his Pesetas. The worked well. After that was done we headed to the border. We were almost there when we made out a strange convoy coming towards us: A police-car, a Pajero with german plates and another police-car on his six. He shouted something out of the window, I guess it was "follow". I followed - what else should we have done? The convoy ended up at the police-station. Igl was way to nervous, he was trying to park his car like a lady. "Let me do that", I said, he was way to nervous, for some reason. "Would somebody tell me what the hell is going on?" Igl's companion told me that they had an accident and that they were heading back. Somehow he managed to hit a scooter while he was trying to enter a gas-station. The damage was not too bad - I don't know, how the damage at the scooterdriver must have looked like, though. But I was more concerned about that talkings of "heading back". So what? Shit happens. As long as the car is running, there is no reason to return. But Igl's companion was not to be convinced. Even as the scooter-boy came by laughing and doing well, he just wanted to go home to Mum and have a hot chocolate. It was not his fault, last, but not least his father is a german policeman. And only queers serve at the german police, what could we expect? We were four men and many good reasons against one little lady, that's why we kept the course as a convoy. We reached the border in the late afternoon. No problems, except that the scumbag of a insurance representative didn't listen, when I said that I want my car-insurance to be valid for Morocco. Now I had to buy a moroccan one.

Hood and headlight had to be replaced, but not here and not now. There would be enough time and money back in Germany to fix it.

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by Markus Besold