Hello dear travellunch team,

We have safely returned from Africa and have a lot to report. Thank you again for your support, I think we could interest some people on the tour in your products. Especially since in Mauritania about half of the rally participants got sick from local food while our team had no problems whatsoever. It tasted good and we felt very satiated!

By now we have reviewed at least the first 6000 photos from the small compact cameras. I have attached a few pictures that show “travellunch” clearly. The processing of another 5000 photos from the SLR camera has yet to be completed.

I think that by early to mid-January we should have worked our way through this pile. There will be a short team-owned DVD film, which should be ready by February.

In addition, a reporter from RTL was there and made a 15min report, which will also be broadcast in February. By the way: The blog coverage at www.cinquecentos.de has worked perfectly. In addition to many photos, we also mentioned our “travellunch dinner” twice.

Regards, Tobias Patzelt


14th leg: OFFROAD I 220km

Today, we woke up to the sound of a horde of palm-sized butterflies buzzing around in the tent that presumably had lost their orientation at dawn mistaking our bright tent for the moon. We had assumed that all the moths had already died in our campfire, which they apparently also mistook for the moon. The briefing on the announced “dune ascents” already took place at 7:30am, sometimes we even started early. The Benz still needed jump starting, in the evening the music system had sucked the battery dry.

Next came a long passage across the desert over flat, not too deep sand fields. It was like driving on clouds, albeit very dusty ones. In between, time and again amazingly green sections that smell strongly of herbs when passing through them. It had rained probably not too long ago and already the desert was blossoming. The entire field drives fast here, but there are always surprising cross gullies or stones that hit badly and make our cars jump sometimes. The oil pan protector on the Benz continues to hold essentially but has come loose at the front. We had fixed it with duct tape so that it would not fly away. Two tons of car against a few strips of duct tape!

The dune driveways are quite different from what we imagined. They could rather be described as hills with small bushes and shrubs. Nevertheless, the announcement was clear: all off-road vehicles drive last, so that the cars with two-wheel drive would have a better chance of making it to the top without having such deep tracks in front of them. To our great pleasure, our off-road Benz is at the very back of the line, even behind all the off-road vehicles, and follows the jeep without any problems. A few hills further we have to make a decision, three tracks diverge. At first, we want to take the middle one, but at the last moment the jeep radios that the right way would be easier, and we get a little off-field.

Fortunately, although we cross the bush landscape to catch up with the rest again, we are not stuck in the sand like many others on the intended route. That is also why later we are not worried as we and a small group again lose the main field and wait for the rest on a gravel field after a sand passage. While some spend their time worrying, others treat themselves to a lunch break and prepare an instant soup with the 12v kettles while the motor is running, in addition there’s canned beer.

In the afternoon, we arrive at the sea. There are huge pelicans and many other large birds. The fishing villages are quite poor, and we are constantly besieged by the inhabitants. “Donnez mois un petit cadeaux” or “Donnez mois un stilo” is sometimes demanded quite harshly and always very fervently. Of course, we are always happy to distribute the odd cuddly toy or pen, but when besieged like that we remain firm. Unfortunately, the tide has already come in forcing us to stay put a little longer to decide how to continue.

Carsten uses the time to check the oil pan protector of the Benz as well as the exhaust flap, he installed himself. It doesn’t withstand his tests (“Oooh, what a shame!”) and breaks off, giving the Benz an even sportier sound. We are quickly approached by another team warning us that there would be “some type of water pipe with tap” beneath our Benz. The continuing boredom drives Carsten to drift around a little on the adjacent gravel parking lot, until finally a tire is completely shredded. Quote: “I have trashed one quite so beautifully”.

Finally, the decision is made: much to everyone’s dismay we will spend the night at Carsten’s drifting site. Exposed to the villagers and without shade or privacy to shower or do other things. That is why in the morning we watch with amusement as some cars drive approx. 100m into the desert, park diagonally only to have the drivers disappear quickly behind them.

In the evening, however, we find a very nice beach only 50m away, where we go swimming and surfing, play some golf, and dig a huge crab out of its hole. Other teams rescue a turtle from a fishing net, from which the Austrians steal the fish from the villagers. We have a travellunch dinner and, together with the usual teams, sit down at a small campfire made of wood and flotsam collected in the desert. As it slowly dies down, a washed up and rotten half of a fishing boat is discovered on the beach and loose planks are dragged in as supplies. At some point this becomes too tedious for us and after we give up the plan to pull the boat by jeep, we light it up directly on the beach and move the campfire site. There was a nice big fire until half past three in the night, directly by the sea.

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