In case you missed it, be sure to read Part 1, here.
There were six days left and the hardest of them were yet to come.
We stood in the north Saharan desert in Mech Irdane, Morocco under a high sun at 7:00 AM. The all-women's navigation challenge known as the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles was only two days old, and in spite of a cool morning, it was already clear we'd need to make peace with a grueling desert captivity. The desert has no friends.
Part 1 tells the unintentionally intense story of our arrival in Mech Irdane and how we ended up in a broiling nowhere, with 320 women engaged in a colossal game of Capture the Flag. The abstract is that for eight days in March, the 24-year-old rally puts 160 teams of two women apiece in four classes of vehicles, charged with finding 60 flags hidden somewhere in 10,000 square miles of desert, navigating with 55-year-old maps using nothing more complex than a compass and a plotter. It's not a race for time but one for distance – the winner is the team that finds the most flags having driving the shortest distance possible over those eight days. Each team has paid $18,540 to enter. The winning team gets a medal. There are no other official prizes.
There were six days left and the hardest of them were yet to come. Today, we had to get through the dunes of Erg Chebbi.