Morocco week 3: Still going strong!

Morocco week 3: Still going strong!

It sure doesn’t feel like it, but we have already been in Agadir for three weeks! Time flies when you’re having fun… and preparing for the Solar Challenge Morocco. Among other things, we kept practicing our convoy, tested Green Spirit and welcomed new team members to Agadir! Read on to get up-to-date and follow us on our journey towards the Solar Challenge Morocco!

Convoy cars in the Moroccan desert

Convoy training

On Monday, we did our second convoy training in Morocco. We are slowly but surely getting used to the bumpy Moroccan roads and the unpredictable traffic (caused by other cars and camels alike). As mentioned in our last weekly blog, we developed special communication protocols for different parts of the route, for example when we’re driving through mountains or busy cities. This kind of protocol change wasn’t necessary in Australia since the route of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is mostly straight and doesn’t cross any major cities. The Solar Challenge Morocco is thus not only a tough new challenge for the technicals who need to make sure Green Spirit can drive through mountains and different road conditions, but also for the communication officer and the whole convoy. Luckily, this week’s convoy training went smoothly so we feel well-prepared for the race! We even spotted our friends from Agoria Solar Team on the way, the competition never sleeps! ;)

Top Dutch team members meet Agoria Solar Team members

Arrival of Group 2

On Tuesday, eight more team members arrived in Agadir. Unlike the first group, they had a relatively relaxed trip without getting up in the middle of the night or taking a bus from Marrakech to Agadir. Instead, they flew from Schiphol at 3pm and arrived in Agadir at 6pm. You might wonder why not everyone flew to Morocco in September already, but there’s actually a good reason for that! Firstly, two of our original team members stayed longer in the Netherlands in order to take care of some other tasks before fully focusing on our adventure in Morocco.

Secondly, even though our technical team members are true heroes and do all it takes for our Green Spirit, it doesn’t hurt to ask for help. That’s why four of the old team members came to support us on the last days before the race. They surely didn’t mind joining their second big adventure after the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2019!

Lastly, we flew in an external videographer to help us capture this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a representative from Hanze University of Applied Sciences who advises us regarding press releases and crisis communication in case of emergency (of course we hope we won’t need it!).

We are glad the new arrivals bring new energy and fresh perspectives to Agadir. This will help us to power through the last two weeks before the race, and of course it is gezellig to see each other again!

Group 2 arrives at the airport

Testing Green Spirit

On Saturday, it was  time to test Green Spirit for the second time! We had the whole day to monitor how Green Spirit is performing and to give our drivers some extra exercise. Now we know what still needs to be improved before the scrutineering. Once we passed, we won’t be able to work on the car anymore until the race so every hour counts! Since we are not allowed to drive a solar car on the streets of Agadir before it passes the scrutineering, we had to come up with another solution. Luckily, our Moroccan friend Jamal helped us find the perfect testing location and so we spent the day in a big parking lot of a nearby mall. Usually, the area is used by driving schools as a safe space for people to train their driving skills so a solar car was a unique sight. 

Preparing Green Spirit for testing

We had already noticed that we draw people’s attention in the neighborhood by moving in large groups and wearing bright green t-shirts, and a solar car is the cherry on top! During the day, many people stopped by the parking lot to take photos or ask who we are and what we’re doing. Some others on the other hand couldn’t be bothered and just walked or cycled through our testing area. Luckily, we got back-up from the local police who helped us keep the area clear and everyone safe. It was a long and exhausting day, but well worth it!

Green Spirit during the test day

Dynamic morning meditation

You can imagine that working almost 24/7 for multiple weeks is extremely exhausting, so it is important to take some time for yourself and recharge your batteries. Our team coach Erik therefore took us to the beach for a dynamic meditation session. What was originally planned as a part of the driver training quickly developed into a popular activity for all team members. 

When most people think of meditation they probably imagine a group of people sitting in a circle and just doing… nothing in particular. We on the other hand opted for a dynamic meditation which means we were moving together in set, repetitive motions to calm music. Since the movements were so monotonous, we had to focus in order to not fall out of rhythm. The goal of the session was hence to train our inner focus and keep in touch with ourselves. 

During the dynamic meditation session

After an early breakfast, we walked to the beach which luckily doesn’t take too long from the hotel. The weather was sunny, but not too hot just yet, and the surge delivered a calming background noise. We faced North and started moving to the beat of the music Erik brought with him: step forward, right arm stretched-out, step back, step forward, left arm stretched-out, step back. After seven minutes, we repeated the movements to West, East and South. Finally, we started spinning faster and faster while focusing on one particular spot in our hand so we wouldn’t get dizzy. In the end, we sat down and felt the world spin around us, reminding us that we are in the center of our own decisions and behaviour. After the session, we felt as calm as never before since we arrived in Morocco. Thanks again to Erik for facilitating the meditation!

Jolijn Visser after the dynamic meditation session

We are only one week away from the race now, the suspense is increasing every day. Next week on the blog we will bring you along during the scrutineering and qualification as well as our last preparations until the Solar Challenge Morocco!