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Rico and Monika
February 9, 2023
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On The Road In A Converted Swiss Army Truck 

Originally, the roof hatch was above the passenger seat, which was for observation. We were using it to get fresh air, which usually would only be necessary on trips that were thousands of miles long, like Spain and Morocco. This is how we were able to breathe during their first trip. Our vehicle is a converted field-gray Sauer 2DM military truck for camping with a small living room that has a heater, sink, and dining table. Set up on the dock level we have a bedroom with a wide bed. After four months and approximately 5,000 miles, we wanted to go back home to start planning other trips.

Gas Stove, Sink, and Double Bed in a Converted Swiss Army Truck

We folded the side shutters down and rolled the tarpaulins up. The Army vehicle shows its inner life, a blue box with windows. Rico opens the rear door and the truck turns out to be an RV. Inside on the left is the kitchen with a gas stove and a sink. To the right are a table and two benches. There are cabinets on the sides and the bed is almost as wide as our bed at home. My longtime dream is to reach Alaska in my own vehicle. The vehicle would have to be robust, reliable, easy to operate, and also with easy maintenance. What is better than an army truck? In an auction, I bought this 1968 Sauer, 2DM, with 110,000 miles under its belt, which is not much for a truck. “Military vehicles are well maintained, therefore rarely anything should go wrong”, says Rico. 

Adventure And Holiday

The motivation for the expedition is to travel and a certain need for adventure said, Monika. We want to be together and have a nice time, she says. Because civilian use is not considered, the box is painted green. When crossing the border, we would roll the Tarpaulins up so that the border guards can recognize at first sight that we do not have war-like intentions on the road, says Pedretti.

Monika and Rico have built their practical motorhome under the hood of the military truck.

What happened? We realized that we must have lost a license plate at a stop. For us to travel any further would be impossible. Problems with border crossing would be unavoidable; so, we turned around and drove back the way we had come. We could not find our license plate anywhere. The police and the road traffic office had been called but they could not do anything until the morning. The next morning the second attempt to find our license plate was successful. Just before Geneva, we took the opportunity to have our vehicle re-militarized. Then we painted blue footprints on the doors and hood. In the early evening, the vehicle crossed the France border. After being stopped by the martial, many children stopped, staring at us with their mouths open and giving us thumbs up in admiration.

The old town of Cordoba, with the narrow streets, small squares, and white-washed houses were frozen. Compared to Switzerland it was bitterly cold and foggy. After Cordoba, we drove by a magnificent mountain landscape in the snow-filled villages. We had reached one of the most beautiful places in Spain.

On British Territory

After another 30 miles over the mountains we reached Marbella hoping that it would finally be warmer. After that we followed British territory where we crossed the border and reached the rock of Gibraltar. First we were laughed at, and then the customs officials were surprised and thrilled. They wished us a safe journey and not too long after we were with the famous mahogany monkeys in Gibraltar. The gate of the Mediterranean proved to be more than difficult to find a parking space. The square in front of a military post seemed particularly well suited for the discarded truck of the Swiss army. There were no signs to prevent them from parking there and the soldiers did not stop us.

Back in Algeciras (Spain), we asked when the next ship goes to Morocco. A young man told us before we could finish asking. Quickly they bought the tickets and Exchanged Euros in Durham. The sea is a very boring passage and after two and a half hours we crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.

Military Vehicles Prohibited

We drove into Tangier with our “Huesli” (which means little house) from the ship and then began our adventure. We were asked to pull over to the side, and the Customs officer said to wait, wait, and wait. He first says “Yes” and then “No”. He finally said the Customs Chief must make the decision. It was hard waiting for who will make the final decision. Finally, his answer is a clear “No”. Vehicles painted military colors are prohibited in Morocco.

Monika asked, negotiated, and discussed and finally, the Customs Director says if the truck was a different color he would let us go in.  Nothing is easier than that! We opened our special blue box and get out the blue paint, roller, and paintbrush. Within a few hours we made our field gray 2DM into a blue 2DM. We wanted to proudly present the successful work to the Director of Customs. Unfortunately, he had left for the day, so we had to stay in the customs area.

The day Talk

The next day the Customs Director appeared around 9:30 AM. He couldn´t believe what he saw. He was amazed and laughed; he rated the work as very well done. The Customs Director admits his “Okay” with a grin. Now it’s time to fill out new forms and after that it goes pretty fast. It made it seem as if suddenly everyone was more competent.  Nothing is checked, and we are in Morocco. I’m almost certain that we were the talk of the day in the customs of Tangier. Who paints his vehicle in the customs yard while on the other side of the world?

Only the Second Start was Successful

After we left Baden we realized we had not come far. We spent the night in our new RV, but not in the southern part of Switzerland, just in the neighboring village of Baden.

Need Arm Movement

Driving the 2DM requires a lot of concentration and requires movements which cannot be compared to a normal modern vehicle. Thirty kilometers from Perpignan at the village of Leucate they find a beautiful place right on the lake. The weather is fantastic as the sun starts to set. The next day we reach the Pyrenees. The N116 road was uphill and very steep. We had to go through a pass called Bourg Madame to get to the border of Spain. The journey leads us over the border into Andorra, past beautiful lakes over the Catalan Mountains down to Lleida. In Lleida, we make our way towards Zaragoza. The agriculture and community is very dull and it is foggy. In Zaragoza, we drove south through the grandiose hills. Finally, we reached Madrid,  and then only 35 more miles to Toledo, one of the oldest cities of Spain. Only the breathtaking location deserves the attributed pride.

Toledo is a unique experience. Naughty as we are, we turned off our vehicle on the outskirts of the city, practically next to the police. Monika fries a roast with fried eggs, and Rico opens up the wine. It will all be very good.

Snowball fight in Morocco

We fled before the winter and we would be caught in the snow. 7,414 ft. above sea level, on the road to Marrakech, the military truck converted into a caravan and has proved its winter suitability.

On January 28, 2007 we quoted in our day log: Today we want to be on road No. 9 of the Tizi n’Tichka pass to Marrakech. There is at least 125 miles ahead of us. The weather is not very nice; it is cloudy. We just hope we have no problem getting over the pass. The pass indeed will be an obstacle. However, after we are off-roading in their military truck.

After about 25 miles, we are stopped by the police. The pass was closed because of snow on the way to Marrakech. It is up to the road crew to be able to maintain this going forward or reverse. Other cars and trucks were waiting in a parking lot. We parked our mobile home. We sat there and waited and waited, while wondering if we should go back.

Suddenly, the police called saying we can go. The wait was worthwhile, after all. Nothing like moving on! Because, if and when the pass opens and closes again, no one exactly knows.

Camping in The Snow

First we can’t see anything but snow, but then the rain and sleet stopped and the first white hills are visible. Now there is snow on the roadside and on the road. Suddenly, after about 32 miles, at the village of Agelmous, all vehicles have stopped. “The barrier to the pass is closed” explains the police officer over a megaphone. “The pass remains closed for today. Please return.” A truck driver says we could stay here until tomorrow morning and that the pass can open again. We parked the 2DM in the snowdrifts. The new situation will be discussed during coffee. The two assured us that the pass will be open again in the morning, even if it snows overnight. So we chose to stay here at least 6,561 ft. high, to spend the night. Our heater worked at full speed all night.

We were up early in the morning to hear the snow plows roar as we drove off to pave the way for us, and we disappeared out of sight. The weather was not bad, and the sun was out a little. But at night it snowed a lot. After breakfast, we drove off. The pass is reached at 7,414 ft. above sea level. We stopped for a snowball fight. We were not worried about the winter in Switzerland, a winter, which however did not take place.

In the narrow bends, the road leads down to the village of Stoddert. Some shops, barbecue stands and a stopping point for trucks make up the place. We stop for a coffee break. There was no more snow. After 60 miles, Marrakech is finally reached. It was cloudy, but somewhat warmer at 17 degrees Celsius.

Melting Of Cultures

We took a taxi into the city. “Marourkouch”, the melting pot of many cultures which is probably the most exotic city of Morocco. Here it seems like it’s always a party atmosphere; the tone of Marrakesh is rough; the people show their lust for life unbaked.

We visited the Medina and the souks with their labyrinthine markets, and decided to stay a day longer than originally planned. Not only because Monika is impressed by the city, but also because the 2DM must be thoroughly lubricated and greased.

In the next few days, we saw Tarhazaoute, Tafraoute with the breathtaking scenery and its foamy waves crashing along the Atlantic coast with the beautiful white sandy beaches.

After one month it was not easy to say goodbye to Morocco. Overall we drove more than 6,500 Miles through the snow in the Atlas Mountains, hundreds of lonely miles in the Sahara Desert, over hills and dales, through beautiful citys like Marrakech, Rabat and Casablanca and many other towns of fabulously, beautiful parts. We met a lot of nice people and the Moroccans are so friendly, we never felt unsafe. We are already dreaming for our next adventure which will take us once around the world.

Article written by Rico and Monika

Rico and Monika are from Switzerland, they love to travel. Rico is a professional Tour Bus Driver all over Europe. Monika works in an in - and outdoor swimming pool facility as a cashier.

For eight months they work in Switzerland/Europe and for four months they are traveling all over the US, Canada, and Mexico in their own Silver Eagle Bus they purchased in the U.S. last year.

Their Swiss Army truck is now available for a new owner. See their ad in our Classified Ad section.

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