A change in plan  
  After staying with a friend in Rissani, I took an overnight bus back to Rabat, to get a visa for Algeria. In Rabat I met another German, Andy, who was trying to get a visa for Algeria, and who was having a hard time with the Algerians, partly because he did not speak any French. He was travelling with his old Mercedes pickup, his German shepherd and his ten poisonous snakes, planning to cross Algeria into Niger, in order to sell his truck. Since he did not speak any French, he was interested in teaming up with me and offered me a ride.  

For my part, in the two weeks in Rissani I had learned enough about the desert to appreciate just how unprepared I was to head out there on my own, especially in July. I had too much stuff and was going to have to leave a lot of it behind. Carrying enough water to make it to the next well was going to be a major challenge, and the slightest accident could put me in serious trouble.


So when we finally got our visa, Andy and I drove back to Rissani, and I threw my bike and my stuff in the back of the truck, and we took off toward the Algerian border. We drove via Boudnib to the border in Figuig. At the border we had a couple of days filled with fun and adventure, due to some miscalculations.

The insurance for the truck had expired and the border guards accused Andy of falsifying the document. So they locked him up and said they were going to put him on trial. First we had a rather heated discussions, during which we pointed out that they were in breach of the fifth Geneva Convention and several of the border guards opened the gun holsters. Then I pointed out to the chief of the border post that we had some beers in the car and that we should really discuss this over a couple of beers.

They handed me the obligatory plastic bag, and I went to fetch a six-pack. By the time I got back, they had already figured out that we would have to purchase a new insurance, in Oujda, and pay a minor fine. I handed them the beers and they escorted us out.

I had to take a day trip up to Oujda by bus, to buy an insurance certificate, while the truck was locked up. I came back late the next day, and finally it was time to leave. We crossed over to the Algerian border post, where several border guards began searching the truck. When they jumped on the bed of the truck, I yelled that they should be careful with the bags with the snakes, they immediately jumped back out of the bed, and began questioning us about the reptiles. When Andy got out a black mamba and waved his World Wildlife Fund certificate, they were more than satisfied. To top it off, they found one of the three bottles of whisky we had stashed in the truck. When they were going to confiscate it, I just opened the bottle and began pouring it out while arguing that it was solely for medicinal purposes. The poor guys looked at me and just could not bear the sight of the liquor evaporating in the dust, so they let me keep it.

Thus we were finally admitted to the land of dust and dates - Algeria.