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Adventure in the Moroccan desert

The 4L Trophy is a humanitarian rally from Paris to Marrakech, in Morocco, and is especially for students. Duos of students drive in a 4L, a small model of Renault, six thousand km south. It is huge in France, tells Gabrielle. ‘Every year when this rally takes place, it is in every single national newspaper and other media. Thousands of student teams drive lots of miles through the Moroccan desert with only one purpose: to get school materials and other things to poor Moroccan children.’

Minus twelve

The first night in the desert was terrible. Gabrielle: ‘We were warned in advance that it would be cold, but it was still disappointing. In the Moroccan desert temperature goes from 25 degrees Celsius during the day to minus twelve during the night. So we were really freezing at night.’ The rally participators weren’t able to take a shower during the five days in the desert. ‘And naturally there weren’t any toilets’, tells Gabrielle. ‘But this was also part of the adventure! And of course, it was nothing compared to the life that most of the Moroccan children lead, for who the whole sponsor rally was organized.’

All the rally teams had materials in their cars for the humanitarian organization named Enfants de Désert, who donates the materials to the Moroccan children. Gabrielle: ‘Some people took clothes and bags from France, other pencils and paper, even wheelchairs. We were sponsored by Elba, the company for office supplies, so we had all sorts of plastic folders and cases for the schools and the children.’ Avans also sponsored Gabrielle for 200 Euros. ‘We had a Avans Hogeschool sticker on the car, so I made a lot of good publicity for Avans!’

A good team

Gabrielle and Marie-Alice made it to the finish pretty well. ‘Our 4L survived the trophy, unlike a lot of others cars. We only had car trouble once, when the chassis had to be strengthened. Mechanics were accompanying the rally, so we didn’t have much delay. And we never got lost during the trophy. Lots of teams got lost. It is part of the challenge to find the right route, that goes across all these small alternative roads. I did most of the map reading and Marie-Claire did most of the driving. We were a really good team, we didn’t argue at all.’

Best friend Marie-Claire studies at a business school in southern France and Gabrielle is staying in the Netherlands for two years, so the two girls don’t see each other that much anymore. Gabrielle: ‘This trip was great for us to spend some time together. Ten days together in a Renault 4L really brings you closer.’

Set up

But not everything went smoothly. ‘One day some local young guys came to us on little bikes. They said to us: “follow me, I know the desert”. We, and some other cars, trusted them and followed them, but later we got stuck in the sand. The boys helped us out, but they asked money for it. It was a set-up! I thought it was funny, those guys only asked for 1 Euro or something, but some other people couldn’t laugh about it…’ [LJ]

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