This is an authorized translation in English of a post in French by @terresco: A la poursuite de l'aventure 3
As my primary language is not English, there are probably some mistakes in my translation.
Remember that the person who speaks here is NOT me, Vincent Celier (@vcelier), but @terresco, a French guy.
Algiers, the white city, was looming on the horizon, probably named for the color of these houses making it visible from afar at sea. This was the real beginning of our adventure. Almost two years ago, we decided, with my friend Pascal, to sell in Mali, a Mercedes bought in Germany. Two years of work, a lot of dreams and some doubts, never discouragement. A preparation told in the two previous episodes. In a few minutes we were going to put our wheels in African soil, a result that we approached with enthusiasm and we must recognize it, a small apprehension.
First steps in Algeria
The boat moored with great engine noises, we went out at the wheel of our black Mercedes, immediately caught by the noise, the crowd and the colors. For once Pascal became a follower; while his character and his talents almost always placed as the natural leader, he was obviously more confused than me by the novelty. He was guarding the car while I was tackling the customs formalities. A lot of people, not really any understandable line, a total lack of habit for this kind of situation made me pass among the last ones.
The situation remained a little complex because the car registered in Germany was not in our name. My negotiating skills were close to zero for this initiatory journey. The stress I had to endure made me completely forget how I presented it. However, a long time later, I left with a customs officer for a search of the vehicle. It was symbolic, it must be said that after opening a chest full of auto parts not very organized or perfectly cleaned, the man understood that we bring nothing interesting.
It was then the turn of the police. Pascal, who had only seen the search, a visible part of the administrative iceberg, had regained some courage. We went in turn to stamp our passports. From there, towards the barrier that was going to open the door of the continent. Last check. The car was strangely in order, Pascal too, but a stamp had been forgotten on my passport. Pascal went alone, while I returned on foot in search of the lost stamp. A long time later, stamp in my pocket, I found my friend, parked a few meters after the barrier, surrounded by a large assembly. The poor man had been beset with proposals of every kind, each one wanting to guide him, to invite him, to sell him something. As soon as he got into the car, he started and did not want to stop until we got out of the city and reached places that seemed more peaceful.
Life has returned to its rights, we had to change money, know where to sleep, or let's say rather where to park our car to spend the night, take information on the road, on the border, there, very south, in the Sahara. Algeria later gained a bad reputation among travelers, overwhelmed by its internal problems. But we were not there yet and the people were adorable. In the evening we stopped in the village square and we slept there, first locked in our vehicle, then little by little on the ground under the stars. People came to see us, often bring us small gifts of welcome, usually edible. Sometimes we were invited to share their meal.
On the way to the south
These oil camps were real cities, we had the opportunity to enter to ask for mechanical help. The entrance took a while but once inside it was Christmas for us. Employees, who were probably happy to see people different from their daily work routine, gave us everything from fuel to food and invaluable advice on the next steps. I do not speak of aperitifs, in what state the novice driver that I was bravely taking the road! Fortunately the roads were good, wide, straight and almost deserted. In case of road exit, no obstacle, only sand.
Lulled by the stories of Roger Frison-Roche on the southern Algerian and his mysterious Tassili we absolutely wanted to go through Tamanrasset. We crossed magnificent landscapes, ergs (regions of sand dunes) with captivating colors, regs of a black shining in the sun, mountains silted. This passage engraved in me the desire to explore these immaculate places more deeply, which I did not realize until many years later.
Little preoccupied with anticipation, we got into a stalemate. With our car, from Tamanrasset we could have reached northern Niger but not Mali, which was our goal. Tamanrasset was not what we expected, as often these names of mythical cities correspond to a very different reality. Perhaps we had been naive readers of the experiences of others, gifted to tell. Never mind, at the price or was the essence we left to the north for a huge detour to the track that could bring us to Mali. When I speak of a huge detour I weigh my words. I learned at that time that if you oil and water every day, a car seems to be working forever.
We had advanced in the season. The small cumulative delays and our huge detour took us to the month of July. Going down again to the south, we find exhausting heat every day. On the advice of Pascal we stopped more and more often to cool the engine, sometimes with a touch of anxiety not to be able to restart, so far from everything. Later we would have a long break from 11h to 17h to ride only at less hot hours. We were going down to Timiaouine where we planned to go to Mali.
Continue to Part 4