We left Spain on the 2nd January from Algeciras. We queued up at the port with the other cars, laden down so far their suspension looked liked it was on the verge of breaking. And here we were thinking we’d brought too much stuff! The boat was extremely modern and took nearly 2 hours to cross to Tangiers. This was our first proper border crossing and we got in the queue for customs. We were asked to park up and then after a while, when nothing had happened we got out and stood “with purpose” at the car. Still nothing. We went up to one of the border police – “What are we meant to do?” He looked at us blankly. “Where’s your green paper?” “We don’t have a green paper?” “How can you not have a green paper???” He then handed us a green paper for us to fill in. The next hour consisted of us running backwards and forward to the border police with this piece of green paper, who spent just as much time running away from us and other people trying to get their attention. Sometimes he would give it back to us and tell us to write something on it. Sometimes he would take it away. Sometimes he would put it in his hat. After we had all the required stamps and signatures, he wished us Bonne Chance and we were on our way.
Our plan was to head for Chefchouen, a few hours drive inland, and on getting through customs, we bought our insurance at the stand and realizing immediately our Tracks4Africa sat nav program had not downloaded properly, we prepared to navigate the old fashioned way with maps and probably get lost. As we drove through another town looking for signs for Chefchouen, a motorbike pulled up next to us. “Lovely Jubbly!” the elderly man in the saddle said through the window. That certainly got our attention and he directed us towards Chefchouen in perfect English. This became a theme for our driving in Morocco, whenever we were coming into a city, a motorbike would direct us to the camping, and this must have saved us hours of getting lost.
Chefchouen is a small town up in the hills, which is known for its Medina, which is almost entirely blue. We camped up on the hill overlooking the town and walked in. It was not at all what I expected from a Moroccan city, there was no hassle, no trying to get you to buy their wears. People were extremely helpful and kind. The food was excellent and great value. We had two tagines, Moroccan tea and in the morning amazing Moroccan pancakes with honey for breakfast.
The next night we headed off to Fez. This is a city known for its Medina, which is the oldest in the world, some parts dating back to the 9th century. We chanced upon a guide the night before and he proved to be worth it as the Medina itself is huge, with over 5000 winding streets. It’s entirely pedestrianized as the streets are too small, and so all goods being sold are moved either by manpower or by donkey. There was even a rubbish donkey, who goes through the medina clearing the streets. Of course, no trip to a Moroccan souk could be complete without a trip to a carpet shop. We managed, just, to escape without a carpet! There was an amazing salesman who was not going to let us not having a house or living in a car for the next 18 months be a reason to not buy a carpet.
From Fez we headed to Moulay Idriss, where there are the largest Roman ruins in Morocco, the country’s second World Heritage Site. We stayed in a beautiful camping site in the olive groves, where we were brought Moroccan tea in the morning to our tent despite the torrential downpour that we were in the middle of.
Since entering Africa, we have camped every night. Some of them have been quite cold, especially as we've been up in the mountains. I am extremely glad I bought my hot water bottle! The tent is great though and it's been good to test out all our equipment in the more built up areas. But now we are on to warmer climes - in one week we should be in 32 degrees with nighttime lows of 24... sounds good to me.
Liz Jarman & James Nunan
Our trip from Essex to Cape Town & back again
Km travelled : 50818km
Countries visited: 30