EL CHOTT 2011
Dear participants and friends of the rally,
now, with a few days apart, I summarize our experiences:
With five teams, two vehicles equipped for the extreme conditions in the dunes, we started our trip to Tunisia.
On the ferry the same impression as in the port of Genoa. There were hardly any tourists on board. In addition to our team, only one second expedition group from Germany with about 20 people, no Frenchman, no Italians! Overall, a lost little group in the dining room. And this experience repeated itself day after day: the best house on the square in Gabes: almost empty! In the Touareg in Douz: 3 rooms occupied! The Star Wars scenes with no visitors! In Ksar Ghilane: 4 (four) Frenchman; the only guests except us! No baker, no camel caravans, no quad tours!
Summary: A tourism destination without revenue! And completely for no reason
Apart from a few deliberately damaged fences and buildings, probably of very loyal followers of the Ben-Ali-regieme, there was no evidence of the past trouble. The major junctions and roundabouts are controlled by the police as always, as well as the locals in their cars on the road. And the fact that especially in the south some important traffic places are guarded by the military, is related to the events in Libya and the expected refugees. But we have seen nothing about this, not even in Remada. And so we were already in the restricted zone: permits and travel in the same procedure as in the last years. Only the accompanying militaries were much more younger. The more experienced soldiers are reassigned to the Libyan border. Arrival and departure at the El Borma pist and Pipilinepiste was lonely, some trucks, but no other vehicle. And the accommodation at Camp Oasis was just as exclusive, because we were also here the first guests since a long time.
And before I report about our actual done work, I will end this previews with a last personal impression:
We, and I mean all outsiders, politicians, observers, past and future tourists to Tunisia, should support the emerging democracy in Tunisia in one point: economic assistance by a rapid turn back to big tourism. All our good advices, the models of a western society and the deed polls of the politicans, are not neccesary. After television images of rebellion and chaos, it should now be strictly pictures of colorful Arabic daily life and self-conscious young people. I think this is also a new message worth.
Our guide in the restricted area, Mohamed Gaydi: “Currently we live in Tunisia not better or worse than under Ben Ali. We will as always controlled by the police, but we will treat with respect. And we must have no more fear, to do or to say something, what the authorities could muster against us. I live as before, but with more pride, I carry my head a little higher.”
This preface was very important for me. And I had promised to explain my personal impressions to you.
The tour and our tasks have been great fun, even if they were connected with some efforts. So we had in April, with temperatures in the shade exceeds 30 ° C (52 ° C in the car), a first feeling of the coming North African summer.
Only one vehicle, my old Pajero L040, was equipped with the tracking system. It was possible to follow the most important tracks in the internet, but not all routes. The tranfers and some pists stages were run and written by the second team.
And these are the prospects for the fall: The trip from the ferry to the south will be overcome by the most direct way (highway) even faster. Starting point for the rally is then the hotel in Gabes.
The ratio of the distribution of the highspeed-kilometers to fast tracks, sand pists and dune crossings will be similar to last year. We have tried to find those pists that can be driven really fast (and I mean really fast). On the other hand, the dune crossing stages will be very demanding again. The first course of 2010 in El Borma we have in the last third something “defused.” It will not be less abrasive, but a little bit easier to drive. And we have still spectacular descents and ascents as in 2010. The return trip to Ksar Ghilane will hopefully in 2011 without a dust storm run over the entire distance. The two special stages at Ksar Ghilane, this time in the second half of the rally, are also modified. So it goes for example around Tembaine and from there at a new course through the dune fields with output at Camp Zmela. And also the principle of “exit options” for participants who want not complete all extreme sections, we have retained. Finally, each team should have the opportunity to reach the evening camp or hotel.
After two intensive weeks Tunisia, we are optimistic that we found good special stages with high standards.
I look forward to the reactions of the participants after finishing this special stages. And I hope to launch the largest possible field: for a great rally El Chott in its 30th Year of existence and for this wonderfull country and its people – Tunisia.
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Malo drugačna potovanja
Sahara Rallye de Tunisie