We still had some 900 kms to the border. Southern Morocco was all desert. We passed warning signs for camels, and there was a large herd of dromedars. The owner in a Landrover stopped and chatted. Dromedars are a sign of wealth, and they are used as payment at weddings. They are rarely used for transport anymore, but the milk is used to make a nourishing drink, zrig. Slightly sour milk is mixed with sugar and water. This is actually pretty good, especially if served chilled. Almost like buttermilk. We were treated to it in Mauretania, where it is often had for breakfast.

We met a shoeless Tuareg who we gave two pairs from our supply. Size 41.

In the town of Boujdour, we had coffee. There was military everywhere, incidentally they’re all driving nice looking Toyota Landcruisers model HZJ75. Toyota is a big seller in Africa, as is Peugeot and Mercedes. I asked about the military presence, and the coffee shop owner told me there is a conflict. “But you don’t see it?” “No, you don’t see it, but it is there, all the time.” After the Spaniards left, this huge country was divided between Mauritania and Morocco. Mauretania was too weak to control the country, so Morocco took over all of it. Today we rarely hear of West Sahara, but it is still occupied territory.

In Boujdour, there were plenty of people looking for business, almost like a border town. We sold them some cell phones and a computer and then started driving again.

The exhaust system fell of the Peugeot. Off course this happened in the middle of nowhere and late at night. We made a quick repair and stopped at a hotel long past midnight. The hotel was full and we had to sleep outside. I found the back seat of the Landcruiser quite comfortable for five hours of sleep.

The next day we had a discussion of how to proceed. We could probably weld the exhaust and be on the road in a couple hours. On the other hand, there was a person interested in buying it as is, and offering a near decent price. After we realized he wanted us to drive the car to Nouakchott for him and pay us there, we decided to have it repaired and sell it later.

The welder turned out to be another professional and he did a first rate job. It took him three or four hours, not bad by African standards. The cost was around €20. Then the fun started.

A Tuareg backed his Landrover straight into the right front door of one of our Landcruisers. This of course made us upset, and we suggested he pay us €3000. He mumbled “tres petit ca, pas grave”. He started taking the door apart to straighten it, when his English-speaking cousin appeared, and I suggested this Tuareg only had a license for driving a camel. All present found this rather amusing, except for the Tuareg who looked a little nervous by now. We then inquired about the cost for a full repaint, around €300. We then suggested that the Tuareg, who by now with some assistance had gotten the door almost back in shape, pay us €30. He started sweating a little and I suggested he give me his turban as compensation. He actually started to take it off, and looked at me a little sheepishly and then we both started laughing. He kept his turban and we were on our way to the border.

On our way to the border we traversed a desert that was so flat that I could not see anything sticking up in any direction, just a totally flat landscape. Amazing. The light was at it had been the last few days, blinding with a slight haze that didn’t come from the sea but from the Sahara. Close to the border I saw some majestic sand dunes that could have been five or fifty miles away, impossible to tell. They looked so mighty they were almost scary. Giving a hint of what was behind them – the endless sand desert of Sahara.

There was the occasional police control that we had become used to. We had prepared papers with all the personal data they required that we could hand out, saving us a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent filling out their forms. The police men were always acting correctly and also friendly, but would sometimes ask for a “cadeau”, a gift, o bribe if you like. We would just say no and they always accepted that. A few times we were stopped in Morocco for minor traffic violations where they ask for a fine, perhaps picking up a piece of paper and starting to write something. I learnt that if you ask for forgiveness and act with respect they will let you go. Knowing the French language really helps.

The border station itself was a slow affair that kept us for most of the rest of the day. A few hours before sunset our passports were finally stamped and we were let through the gates to Mauretania. There the pavement stopped and we were suddenly in a wild and roadless desert.