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Transplant Titans' Progress Reports

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Team Transplant Titans consists of Hany Riad and Titus Augustine, who are transplant surgeons at Manchester Royal Infirmary. They are taking part in the 2008 Plymouth-Banjul Challenge, and left for The Gambia on 11 January 2008. For more information about Transplant Titans, please see their main web page. This page contains progress reports of their journey, sent back both by email and by text messages the Plymouth-Banjul 'Field Reports' service. You can check Transplant Titans Field Reports directly.

Links to Google Maps are shown as [map], and [more pics] shows more photos of the area from previous challenges.
 

Daily Reports

Friday 11 January from Manchester to Portsmouth
Saturday 12 January ferry to St Malo, and then Burgos in Spain
Sunday 13 January to Tarifa
Monday 14 January day in Tarifa
Tuesday 15 January ferry to Tangiers and then Rabat
Wednesday 16 January to Marrakech
Thursday 17 January through the Atlas to Ouarzazate
Friday 18 January to Sidi Ifni
Saturday 19 January to Laayoune
Sunday 20 January to Dakhla
Monday 21 January rest day at Dakhla
Tuesday 22 January into Mauritania
Friday 25 January to Zebrabar in Senegal
Saturday 26 January rest day in Zebrabar
Monday 28 January Journey's End
Tuesday 29 January Kings Kid Academy
Wednesday 30 January More school visits

Friday 11 January - from Manchester to Portsmouth

The team were finally on their way, having set off in the morning from Manchester Infirmary. They were waved off to an affectionate farewell by colleagues, Sheila and Ben. At 2pm they were near Birmingham in atrocious weather, and reached Portsmouth around 6pm. After a beer with Joujou and Mark, they boarded the ferry. The Toyota was subjected to a security check. They wanted to know what the Banjul rally was. Said it would all be downhill after Portsmouth. They had a meal on board, and went to bed during a rough crossing in strong winds.

the Toyota all packed and ready to run

Members of the transplant team sending off the Transplant Titans

the Toyota all packed and ready to run

Members of the transplant team sending off the Transplant Titans

   

Saturday 12 January - to Burgos in Spain

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They disembarked at 7am and drove south via Bordeaux in great sunny weather with the smell of Cuban tobacco, as Hany was puffing the pipe while driving. They crossed into Spain around 3pm about 40 miles west of Lourdes. They crossed the majestic snow capped Pyrenees, and were hoping to get to Madrid that night. However, after a long day of driving they decided to stop at a hotel in Burgos [map] in Northern Spain.

Hany navigating through the vineyards of the Cognac region of France

Hany the charmer cannot keep his hands off even in the high Pyrenees

Hany navigating through the vineyards of
the Cognac region of France

Hany the charmer cannot keep his hands off
even in the high Pyrenees

Titus asleep at the wheel after a day's driving

Passing through the Pyrenees at dusk on the 12th of January

Titus asleep at the wheel after a day's driving

Passing through the Pyrenees at dusk

   

Sunday 13 January - to Tarifa

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They set off early, crossed Madrid by mid-morning, passing Cordoba, Granada and Malaga and then along the coast road to reach Tarifa [map] at 7pm. The mileage to Tarifa from Manchesterso 1400 miles. The car has behaved itself beautifully, except that it is a bit thirsty on fuel. The Hotel Meson de Sancho is situated 9km from Tarifa, and is the unofficial starting point for the rally and where the teams meet. An interesting sight met the Transplant Titans on turning into the hotel, with several bangers all ready for the rally parked in front. After checking in, they met the other teams and had dinner.

Monday 14 January - Day in Tarifa

Monday is a rest day for teams do their final checks and preparations before crossing to Africa. The day started off miserable with rain and fog after a whole night of torrential rain, but it cleared by late morning. The team did their preparations, filled up with oil, and booked tickets to Tangiers. In the evening they went to Gibraltar but could only make it after sunset. They returned and had a meal with the rest of the teams. The teams decided to group up for the stretch through Morocco, heading for Rabat before deciding on the route through the Atlas mountains.

Some of the cars parked at the hotel on the morning of Monday 14 January >>

Some of the cars parked at the hotel on the morning of Monday 14 January

 

 

Limo (T8502) taking part in the Timbuktu Challenge

Team Double Excels (T8907) repairing car

Limo (T8502) taking part in the Timbuktu Challenge
(see note below)

Team Double Excels (T8907) repairing car

Transplant Titans' final preparations

Rock of Gibraltar on night of 14th January

Transplant Titans' final preparations

Rock of Gibraltar on night of 14th January

Special Note Pageant's Webmaster did some digging, and discovered that Limo to Africa are in Group 5 of the Plymouth-Bamako Challenge. But that's only half the story. They started off in Los Angeles, and first drove across the USA before shipping the limo across the Atlantic. (read their story)

Tuesday 15 January - to Rabat

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Transplant Titans arrived at Tangier after a 45 min jetfoil crossing, together with about six other teams. They reached Rabat [
map] at 5pm. Hany's cousin and her husband took them for a drive around the city and they then checked in to a hotel with about 13 other teams. They went out together for a meal in the Medina quarter of the city. Different teams decided on different routes depending on their vehicles and preferences, with a plan to all meet up in Dakhla before the Mauritania stretch. Transplant Titans left their decision until the morning, to take into  account whether there might be snow in some of the mountain passes.

Leaving Tarifa with Gibraltar in the background

Leaving Tarifa with Gibraltar in the background

Tangier Harbour

En route to Rabat

Tangier Harbour

En route to Rabat

Mausoleum in Rabat at Night

Rabat with car parked overnight

Mausoleum in Rabat at Night

Rabat with car parked overnight

   

Wednesday 16 January - to Marrakech

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From Rabat, they headed along the coast, in warm sunny weather, stopping for a break in the pleasant town of El Jadida [map]. They had a good drive into Marrakech [map] [more pics] with the spectacular backdrop of the Atlas range, but they almost ran out of petrol. Marrakech is an intense blast the senses and driving absolutely chaotic. The central square is unique.
 

Lunch in a fish market in El-Jadida

On route to Marrakech with hills in the distance

Lunch in a fish market in El-Jadida

On route to Marrakech with hills in the distance

Entering Marrakech Central Marrakech at midnight
Entering Marrakech Central Marrakech at midnight
   

Thursday 17 January - to Ouarzazate

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They left Marrakech using a different route to the other teams, with a longer drive through the Atlas Mountains. The landscape was barren and dry, with many villages and snow tipped peaks as a backdrop. They stopped in a Berber village for a break, and then crossed the Tizi-n-Tichka pass [map] to reach Ouarzazate [map]. They had a good drive, as most of the snow had melted except for some on the hillsides. Once on the Sahara side of the Atlas, it began to look like desert, with dry reddish dunes and rock formations. Ouarzazate is an interesting town. It is set in the middle of nowhere but has a thriving film industry. Because of its surroundings, a lot of movies which involve desert and barren scenery are shot there. The BBC was currently shooting bible stories there, and Gladiator was shot in a village called Ait-Benhaddou close by. The mileage to Ouarzazate touched 2004. They reported that they were growing fond of the beast and there had been no hitches so far.

Through the Tizi-n-Tichka pass Sahara side of the Atlas towards Ouarzazate
Through the Tizi-n-Tichka pass Sahara side of the Atlas towards Ouarzazate

Friday 18 January - to Sidi Ifni

They left Ouarzazate before 7am on a crisp cold morning, with a clear cloudless sky, brilliant sunshine and the shadows of hills against a backdrop of snow capped mountains. Real rural Morocco. They had an absolute marathon drive through a changing landscape and scenery via Tazenakh, Taroudant, Agadir, Tiznit and then the beautiful costal road to Sidi Ifni [map] for an overnight stay near the ocean.

Leaving Ouarzazate in the morning

Stretch through arid land

Leaving Ouarzazate in the morning

Stretch through arid land

Scenery along the way Sunset at Sidi Ifni

Scenery along the way

Sunset at Sidi Ifni

   

Saturday 19 January - to Laayoune

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The weather was fine, there were no hitches and they had their first sighting of real desert as they made the long drive along the coast from Sidi Ifni to Laayoune [map] in Western Sahara. They drove into Tarfaya hoping to take a break, but it was literally deserted and unappealing, so they carried on. Interestingly the Canary Islands are only about 60 miles away from Tarfaya in the Atlantic Ocean. Laayoune is a military town, full of UN personnel and vehicles. There were several teams staying in different hotels, so there will be a big group going on to Dakhla on Sunday.

first camel sighting

Beginning of desert with more to follow

first camel sighting

Beginning of desert with more to follow

An old shipwreck along desert coast Advertising organ donation in the Sahara

An old shipwreck along desert coast

Advertising organ donation in the Sahara

   

Sunday 20 January - to Dakhla

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They reached Dakhla [map] [more pics] tired but OK, after driving through a sandstorm all along the way. It was a hazy day with a strong wind gusting sand across road.

Monday 21 January - rest day at Dakhla

Transplant Titans are spending the day at the campsite with several other teams. Mobile phone reception is poor, and they are not able to send us any pictures. However, they have a satellite phone, which will allow essential communications through the desert, where mobile phones tend not to work at all.

Dakhla Campsite

Dakhla Campsite

Tuesday 22 January - into Mauritania

They left Dahkla in a group of five cars with a guide, heading for the Mauritania border. They plan to stay overnight in Nouadhibou [map] [more pics]. They were unable to send further news for three days as mobile phones didn't work. Field Reports posted by other teams talk about a huge sandstorm and chaos at the border. A five hour wait is not unusual! These photos were sent after they reached Banjul.

 

Sandstorm on route Dakhla to Nouadhibou

 

Sandstorm on route Dakhla to Nouadhibou

Children wanting sweets at Nouadhibou The car bogged down in the desert sand

Children wanting sweets at Nouadhibou

The car bogged down in the desert sand

The group camped in the desert Camped in the desert in Mauritania 24/01/08
The group camped in the desert Camped in the desert in Mauritania 24/01/08
Camped next to a dune in the desert Desert Sunrise 25/01/08
Camped next to a dune in the desert Desert Sunrise 25/01/08
Driving through the desert 25/01/08 Beach drive to Nuachkott 25/01/08
Driving through the desert 25/01/08 Beach drive to Nuachkott 25/01/08
   

Friday 25 January - to Zebrabar

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Transplant Titans crossed the Senegal border after three memorable, enjoyable and surreal days in the Mauritanian Sahara. They are well, but dirty, dusty and tired. They reached Zebrabar [map] [more pics] at 10pm after getting separated from the group. They have done 3700 miles so far.

Saturday 26 January - Rest day in Zebrabar

Saturday is a welcome rest day at Zebrabar. They have cleaned and repacked the car ready for the final run to Banjul tomorrow. The end of the Challenge is in sight. They anticipate their only problems now will be bureaucracy and corruption at the border crossing. They couldn't connect to the internet to send any news or pictures at the time, so these updates were based on Plymouth-Banjul website Field Reports.

 Zebrabar Campsite 26/01/08 >>

 Zebrabar Campsite 26/01/08

Monday 28 January - Journey's End

They missed the last ferry from Barra across the Gambia River on Sunday night, as it was too full, so they slept in the car and caught the first ferry on Monday morning. They arrived in Banjul at 9.15am local time with no problems and a total mileage of 3996 miles. They are now taking a well earned rest, but will be visiting Kings Kid Academy very soon. Titus and Hany would like to express their gratitude to all who have helped, supported, prayed and encouraged.

Banjul in the distance from the ferry

End of Journey in Banjul

Banjul in the distance from the ferry

End of Journey in Banjul

   
Tuesday 29 January - Kings Kid Academy

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Transplant Titans went to Kings Kid Academy in the afternoon and the headmaster, Mr Jacob Amadi, took them around the different classes. All the classes put on welcome performances and songs. It culminated with an assembly at which the headmaster and the children gave thanks to Pageant and to Transplant Titans for their support. They then said a prayer of thanks for Titus and Hany's safe journey from the UK, and sang both the Kings Kid Anthem and the Gambian National Anthem. Overall Titus and Hany were extremely impressed with the school and the work Pageant is doing there and they are really pleased that the sponsorship money is going to a really worthy cause. Titus and Hany hope to continue their association with Pageant in the future. (More about Kings Kid Academy)

Kings Kid Academy Entrance

Hany talking to headmaster Jacob Amadi

Kings Kid Academy Entrance

Hany talking to headmaster Jacob Amadi

A class presentation

School Assembly

A class presentation

School Assembly

Shaking hands with the Nursery kids

Some nursery kids

Shaking hands with the Nursery kids

Some nursery kids

Wednesday 30 January - More school visits

Firstly they went to see a child in a school with a medical problem. After that they went to another school in Siffoe which Pageant helps. Wandifa, the Pageant agent, then took them on a drive through rural Gambia. In the evening they were invited to a Rotary club meeting in Banjul, On Thursday there is a procession of the rally cars in Banjul. Hany and Titus are hoping to return to Manchester on Friday.

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