Nouara Travel Blog› entry 20 of 22 › view all entries
Daily Mileage 5
I woke early even though it was a very late night working on car 116. I could hear a lot of the other competitors leaving already and thought I had overslept.
As I opened my tent zip and stumbled out I was confronted by a group of dark faces and a collective chorus of, cadeax cadeax cadeax. Ahhh, please at least let me get up and awake before asking for more gifts. From then on whatever I did I was followed by different kids and adults all asking for something. It turned out that our campsite was swamped with villagers that had walked 7km to get to us.
It was tough eating breakfast, (muesli bar and warm water). I had things to give away but it’s so hard to do when being hounded all the time. It really does test your patience and compassion.
The next thing was to try and have another go at fixing Krisztians car. Luckily we had the engine rebuild manual with us from when we built our engine. We set all the timing belts and pulleys to the correct position which was tricky and took a while. It didn’t work and the theory was air in the fuel system. I then disconnected the fuel injectors and bled the fuel system. Still no luck. We were running out of ideas. The engine was turning over but not firing. Then more bad luck. The starter motor failed. Great!.
By now, almost all other teams had left, which left the 3 cars the centre of attention of the locals.
We heard there were some mechanics in the next village, so Big Hans towed Krisztian there to see what we could do.
By now there were so many kids swarming around watching this unusual activity. Ross and Andy then started a mass game of street football with them. I had lots of football shirts in our car but after this morning’s scene there was no way I could hand out 30 to 40 shirts when there was easily double that amount of kids around. Such a shame.
It was well over an hour before the starter motor turned up fixed.
Even with the starter motor working it soon became apparent the engine would not start.
In the mean time myself and Steve went looking for the police station to get our passports stamped. It took a while and it was just one man in a small building on the edge of town. All was going well until our return journey was interrupted by a big man at the customs building. A slightly larger building with an outside shelter where a few men in uniform where watching the
He was really rude and our first encounter with a quite nasty corrupt official.
The engine was dead!! When the cambelt had been pushed off its pulley the valves had gone crazy and hit the rocker shaft so hard it had stripped the thread holding it in place.
By now, Big Hans had left to drive to Segou. We just wanted to go direct to
It was a crazy plan but we hitched up, said our goodbyes and were on our way out of town. It was now about 5pm and as we came to the main street we stumbled across another team that had only just arrived. We have met them a few times before and are 3 great Hungarian guys.
It was all going well at last after a crazy day and then, yes, you guessed it. Chaos and madness. Our old friend from the customs arrived. He was fuming. Shouting at everybody. Us, krisztian, the buyers.
As I mentioned before, it is actually illegal to sell your car in
He ordered Krisztian and the rest of us back to the customs building.
Krisztian then offered him 100 euros to solve the situation. This was about money after all. We thought we were getting somewhere but nothing happened. After a while the jeep was towed back to customs and was surrounded by a group of men who removed every loose item they could find in it. It was like watching locusts attack a corn field. Then the new owners arrived and went into the building. All hell broke loose and there was a huge argument between them and the customs man. Now we were getting nervous. Things were getting worse. One of the other Hungarians was helping with the negotiations and told Krisztian that he had to give the money back, but they would not give the jeep back or even the paperwork. They were really trying it on. Then we remembered we had a letter from the Malian foreign minister explaining what we were doing and to be shown in emergencies.
It was now dark which added to the worry. Then a breakthrough after 2 hours. Krisztian was told to pay 40 euros and we were all told to get out of there quick and don’t come back.
We jumped in our car as did the other team ready to leave, feeling totally relieved, when all of a sudden Mr happy called out that Krisztian was to stay and the rest of us had to leave. No way was this ever going to happen. He told him he had broken the law selling a car and would have to stay over night in prison. Would this never end.
We all stood together and the guard was told Krisztian was coming with us or we all stayed. After more arguing and about 10 minutes later he just shouted at us all to go.
We were on our way and headed out of town feeling very relieved but also angry. The guy was just on a power trip and was trying to make our life as hard as possible.
It was about 7pm and now we had a 4 to 5 hour drive to
We were about 2 miles out of town driving on a rough red dusty road and I could hear this clicking noise.
Then with no warning, the clutch peddle went straight to the floor and the gears made a horrendous noise. NOW WHAT!! What have we done to deserve this.
I got under the car and could see some fluid dripping from somewhere. Then I noticed a large piece of fence wire or something wrapped around the drive shaft. We must have picked it up at the old yard where we were trying to fix the other car. It had been spinning so fast and the end had been chafing on the clutch selector hydraulic pipeline and made a hole in it. This was really bad luck.
What could we do. Think, think. I decided to try and place a rubber sleeve over the pipe and ty wrap and wire lock it on.
It was dark and isolated and I was working lying on my back under the car with a head torch for light. After securing the sleeve we bled the system and connected it up. Steve tried the clutch and the pipe split again. Damn! It was too soft to hold the pressure. I had no choice but to try again. I was now covered in red dust and hydraulic fluid and was filthy dirty.
Second attempt, please, please work. Failed again. Now what. We had to give up on this method. Then Steve had the idea of changing gear by pulling on the selector with a peace of rope from inside the car. It was a long shot but worth a try. I tied it around the selector on the bottom of the gearbox, feeding the rope up over the bonnet and through the side window. We would try and start in 3rd gear. We all got in the car because if this worked we would not be able to stop or change gear.
We had a meeting and decided we would push the jeep off the road and into the bush and camp for the night. We could do no more and would be safer out of sight.
We would go back into town in the morning and try and get something to fix the pipe. This was not ideal after our run in with the customs bully but we had no choice.
Finally everybody pitched their tents and went to bed.
I needed to be alone and unwind for a while. I had never been so dirty and fed up.
Then I happened to look up at the sky and, wow, what a sight.
It was now gone 11pm and I finally crawled into my tent determined to fix the car in the morning. J