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Loaded up for Morocco

First off-road experience in the desert – broken engine bracket – Can a small workshop help us?

N 28°29'28.2" W 011°20'17.4"
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    Day: 372

    Camp: 68

    Country: Morocco

    Location: Tan-Tan

    Latitude N: 28°29’28.2″

    Longitude W: 011°20’17.4″

    Kilometers per day: 55 km

    Total kilometers: 8797 km

    Height: 10 meters

    Temperature day max: 28°

    Night temperature: 18 °

    Departure: 12:00 noon

    Arrival: 14:00

    Travel time: 2 hours.

We have already spent three days in the fabulously beautiful desert hotel Ksar Tafnidilt, which is only about 27 kilometers north of the desert town of Tan-Tan in the Sahara, watching the sunrise from the roof of our Terra Love. “Is it going to Plage Blanche?” asks Tanja, pointing to a Toyota that is just leaving the camp and driving towards the sunrise along the desert track. “Maybe,” I reply, thinking of the dune beach, which is one of the loneliest and most deserted beaches in the world. An adventurous drive of 170 km along magnificent dunes and incredibly beautiful desert landscapes. The Plage Blanche is also known as the “little son of the Sahara”. “Would you like to drive the route?” Tanja interrupts my thoughts. “Yes, it is, but it’s a dangerous stretch because you can only drive on it at low tide. Some people have sunk their vehicles there,” I reply…

The recommendations to drive here to the desert hotel Ksar Tafnidilt were worth every kilometer. The desert hotel, which is also a good place to stay with your off-road motorhome, is a wonderful hostel and meeting place for travelers, with everything you need, including a hot shower and delicious food. We would like to stay a few more days, but as our visa for Morocco expires in a few days, we want to leave the country for Mauritania.

Because a bracket on our Terra Love, to which the particulate filter is attached, is broken, we have to visit a garage first. I ask the owner of the wonderful camping ambience if there is a good garage in Tan-Tan. She gives me the approximate location of Sahid’s workshop. Although today is Sunday, he has opened his workshop. We set off at around 12:00 and leave the dream location. I reduce the air pressure in all the tires beforehand, as we had to pass some sandy areas on the outward journey that I could only manage at high speed.

I engage the gear reduction and the center differential lock and leave Ksar Tafnidilt behind us. With the reduced air pressure it rides great. Nothing is hard and rumbles like on the outward journey. “Great!”, I cheer loudly as we glide over a soft sand passage, but another soft sand slope suddenly appears behind the next bend. I accelerate boldly, the Terra lurches a little, but is quickly through there too. When the track mutates into a corrugated iron track, I reduce my speed to a maximum of 10 km/h. “It’s strange how such regular humps and bumps develop,” says Tanja. “This is caused by repeated vehicle traffic in combination with the natural elements, such as sun and rain. The surface then resembles the profile of corrugated iron, with protruding and depressed sections,” I answer. “That’s definitely not good for our Terra Love,” Tanja ponders. “Well, it can cope with that. But if you drive a route like this over several hundred or even thousand kilometers, it will certainly take damage,” I say as I steer into the next bend.

When I want to pump up the tires again at the end of the route, the compressor suddenly fails. There is no chance of getting it going again. We drive with low air pressure via the N1 to Tan-Tan. When the air conditioning in the cab breaks down during the journey, my mood sinks. “I hope they can fix it in Tan-Tan. If not, it’ll be hot in Mauritania,” I say, annoyed.

The French-speaking owner of Ksar Tafnidilt only gave us a rough description of where Sahid’s workshop is supposed to be. As we don’t understand French and could only use the translation app to a limited extent due to the poor internet, we didn’t get any exact address details from her. So now we roam street after street in search of a small workshop. We are about to give up when suddenly a man in a red mechanic’s overall stands at the side of the road and waves wildly. “That’s Sahid!” exclaims Tanja happily. “Unbelievable,” I say, hardly able to believe that we found him this way. After a brief greeting and a rudimentary explanation of what is wrong with our IVECO, Sahid immediately gets to work and, together with his helper Mohamed, repairs the broken support bracket. He then gets on his bike and takes him to a welder. Meanwhile, I write a WhatsApp to the electrician Stefan König from bimobil about the compressor and ask if he knows where the fuses for it are located in our cabin. And although today is Sunday, he gets in touch a little later and explains where I can find the two 40 amp fuses. I crawl into the storage space under the cabin to the place described and try to pull the fuses out of their sockets. Not a chance. “Let me try,” the helpful Sahid tells me, crawls into the storage compartment and manages to pull out the burnt fuses with a pair of pliers. He sets off again on his bike to get fuses on Sunday. It doesn’t take long for him to come back with a broad smile. “I was able to buy the last two fuses,” he says. We put them in, and lo and behold, the compressor rattles again. Meanwhile, the retaining plate has also been welded and reinstalled. The only thing missing now is the repair of the air conditioning system in the driver’s cab. The owner of Sahid’s neighboring workshop comes and checks the pressure of the pipes with a kind of compressor. Everything is in order. He then drains the remaining gas from the air conditioning system and fills it with new gas. One liter costs around 300 dirhams (€30). After half an hour, the air conditioning is running again. “It’s amazing what the Moroccans can repair, even in remote regions and with simple means,” I say enthusiastically. “Yes, and you don’t have to wait weeks for a repair appointment,” laughs Tanja. We say goodbye to Sahid and his helper Mohamed with a warm hug and drive on, happy and relieved, to a campsite in the coastal village of El Outia.

Here is the link to the video:

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