Under A Morrocan Sky !

Tanger Med – Moulay Bousselham (101 miles)

It was a very noisy night and neither of us slept well. Other than the noise I had ‘other’ anxieties, obviously the main one being, ‘would Big Momma’ start in the morning !! However, being so close to travelling to Morocco the ‘Dark Forces’ had returned to haunt me with a vengeance !! We had been told lots of stories about travelling in Morocco, primarily all bad, first there was the ‘Beaurocracy’ of actually getting in to the country to start with, how whilst we were queuing to get through all of the check points, Immigration and temporary Importation of vehicle and Customs, that we would be approached by ‘people’ telling us that they could help us with our papers, for a ‘fee’, of course and that having paid the requested ‘fee’ they would disappear with our ‘papers’, returning a”short while later with said papers handed to us ‘crumpled’ up, as if they had been processed, only to discover that nothing had actually been done, apart from being relieved of some cash !! Then the stories of how it could take 2-3 hours to get through all of the ‘Beaurocracy’ before we even started our travels. Once ‘on the road’, how our vehicle may be ‘stoned’ by kids as we passed through towns and villages and then of course all the stories about being robbed of our possessions !! Why on earth are we even considering going to this ‘Beaurocratic’ and obviously ‘Lawless’ country when we were perfectly happy in Portugal and Spain ?

We had once again set the alarm on the clock and again, we didn’t need it ! It had been another chilly night but with no EHU and not wanting to use valuable LPG, we only briefly turned the water heater on, sufficient enough to have hot water to wash in, then we were up and dressed and had a coffee. Then the moment of truth, we were both nervous but I could sense that Shazza was more nervous than me. I had already made my contingency plan, if ‘Big Momma’ did not start then the day would be taken waiting for the ‘Assistancia’ to arrive and then getting the van fixed, which may have involved a tow truck and being taken to a garage ‘somewhere’, whilst we waited until they had ‘sucked their teeth and scratched their heads’. Then, repaired, it would have been staying in Spain and exploring the South Eastern Coastline, which, for me at least, would not have been a disaster but for Shazza it would have been a huge disappointment. Ignition key inserted, check to ensure that we were in ‘neutral’ and then, with bated breath, the all important turn of the key and………………..’Big Momma’ burst into life, no problem !! Sometimes it is worth letting those ‘Dark Forces’ play on your mind. I kept the engine idling over so that the engine would warm up and we could use the van heater to take the chill off, but one thing was for certain, we were catching the ferry to Morocco.

The green arrow over our boarding lane lit up and we pulled off the parking area and took our place in the queue, that’s a laugh, we were the second in a line of just two vehicles, us and a transit van !! A check of our passports and tickets and we were waved forward, no waiting in a second holding area like at the numerous other ferry ports we have used over the years, this was straight onto the ferry. Should we have been really worried that there didn’t appear to be any other Motorhomes boarding ? I think the relief of actually being on board and starting our journey was the biggest thing on our minds. There were only a handful of passengers on board as we set sail, it was like having a very large boat all to ourselves. The sun was up, it was pleasantly warm and the sea was a flat calm. We purchased a coffee and toasted cheese and ham baguette, breakfast, and then settled in front of the large panoramic windows to enjoy the Ninety minute crossing.

A rather large 'lump' of British looking rock !!

A rather large ‘lump’ of British looking rock !!

You can see Morocco from Spain before you even leave the harbour, we just sat and watched it get closer and closer and the sense of excitement was almost overwhelming, for the both of us !!

You can see Morocco from Spain before you even leave the harbour, we just sat and watched it get closer and closer and the sense of excitement was almost overwhelming, for the both of us !!

Entering the harbour at 'Tanger Med'. I felt the excitement quell and nervousness return.

Entering the harbour at ‘Tanger Med’. I felt the excitement quell and nervousness return.

When we were called down to our vehicles I was a little relieved when I saw two other Motorhomes parked behind us, both French !! Was that story about the French being told not to travel just ‘another’ Motorhome Aire story, or had these ‘Rebels’ just chosen to ignore the warning ? We and they would soon find out !! Now to face the ‘Beaurocracy’ and the 2-3 hour hanging around to be processed ! We were not approached by any willing ‘helpers’, we were not relieved of any cash, and we were processed and on our way within Thirty-minutes and that included stopping at the bank on the port to stock up our coffers with a few more ‘Dirham’, which we obtained at a rate of  €1 = 10.72dh, so ‘Carlos’s’ rate wasn’t that bad at 10.5.

 The port at Tanger Med is not actually in Tangier, it is approximately 20-25 miles North of the city. There is a Motorway (Toll) that runs virtually from the Port all the way down to Agadir, however, we had ‘been told’ stories of how people walk along these roads, often crossing in front of you and that the drivers are maniacs, I was still a little nervous, although we hadn’t been ‘stoned’ leaving the Port neither had we passed through any towns or villages yet !!

Having no Sat Nav to guide us, as ‘Snoopy’s’ mapping didn’t cover Africa, she could take a holiday for a while and Shazza became the one and only Navigator using a ‘Marcos Polo’ road map she had purchased in advance. She was also the ‘itinerary’ plotter and she was nervous that if she took me to a ‘not so good’ location for our first stop that this would not bode well for the rest of the trip. Actually, I was quite ‘chilled’, all of my initial ‘demons’ having already been ‘exorcised’, I was well relaxed and quite excited about touring Morocco in our Motorhome, perhaps I had over done the reluctance bit, a bit too much !! Our first stop was around 100 miles away so time to check out these death-defying Moroccan roads !!

Look at all those suicidal pedestrians and maniac drivers !!!

Look at all those suicidal pedestrians and maniac drivers !!!

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Now I am not saying that ‘any’ of the stories that we have heard, or been told, are untrue. They may well have happened to some unlucky individuals on their visit here at some point and let’s face it, this is only day one for us so I will remain vigilant. However, those ‘Dark Forces’ have obviously decided to lull us into a false sense of security and are just waiting for us to relax and let our guard down. Well they better hurry up because I am already so relaxed and layed-back that I am almost horizontal !!

We had travelled the majority of the way on the Motorway, a little under a hundred miles and when we pulled off and payed at the ‘manned’ toll booth we were charged 100 dirham (€9.42 or £7.68), I wonder how much it would have cost us for the same distance on a French Motorway ? Shazza was now getting a little nervous, it’s one thing just reading Motorway signage and counting down the miles but now she had to guide us to the campsite.

Even the road into the town was pretty good !!

Even the road into the town was pretty good !!

Shazza had once again done her homework and noted the landmarks from the guide-book, over three speed humps, past a Post Office and turn left down a lane just before the bank, noting that we shouldn’t take any notice of the first ‘campsite’ sign and fortunately we got through unscathed, the locals didn’t ‘stone’ us on the way in, in fact they waved and smiled, a bit unnerving really, we actually felt welcome here. Now when I say campsite signs, these were not your modern, neatly painted signs with the  campsite name, no, these were bits of wood with the word ‘campsite’ hand painted on them. We knew that we were not going to get nicely manicured ‘Caravan Club’ standard sites or even the same standards as some of the ‘All Service’ Aires we had used, Morocco style camping would be more ‘rustic’. The friendly ‘Guardien’ opened the barrier, smiled and said in perfect English, ‘Hello and Welcome’, obviously an observant fellow noting the UK registration or perhaps the fact that  our steering wheel was on the wrong side. He told us the layout of the site, where all the facilities were located, including the on-site Restaurant and then asked if we needed him to help us find a pitch or were we happy to park ourselves. We opted for the latter and he asked us to return to what passed for the ‘office’ once we had parked and got settled. There were proper marked out pitches, all on grass, however, with the recent long spell of rain, the reason we had delayed our arrival, nobody was parked on the now muddy and still drying out pitches. There were already a few vans on site, mainly Dutch and Germans and one French van, fortunately, we managed to find a place immediately facing the lagoon. I don’t think there is such a thing as Health and Safety out here, plugging in to what passed for EHU was a ‘shocking’ experience, no really ! What passed for plug sockets were connections, some with bare wires, broken and in a poor state of repair, I managed to connect amid a few minor ‘crackles’ but at least I now had a 10 amp Electric supply !! I only hope it doesn’t rain anymore whilst we are here !! The site restaurant offered WiFi and so with the purchase of a ‘Coke’ I had the password. Although it was a very slow connection speed I was fortunate enough to be parked close enough to be able to pick it up on my iPad in the van. The site had a Motorhome Service Point, Showers and Toilets and ‘potable’ water, although we still had plenty of ‘Spanish’ water in our tank. The sun was shining, it was hot and we had everything we needed, well done Shazza, this will do very nicely thank you.

The view from our front window across part of the lagoon.

The view from our front window across part of the lagoon.

The view of the small fishing harbour on our right-hand side.

The view of the small fishing harbour on our right-hand side.

I think that it was a combination of the poor nights sleep along with our ‘other’ anxieties but we both suddenly felt extremely tired. I got out the sun chairs, with a view of the lagoon and the hot sun it wasn’t long before the both of us were enjoying some individual periods of ‘Personal Contemplation’ !! Soon enough it was nearing the end of the day and I enjoyed watching another glorious sunset, but our first ‘Under a Moroccan Sky’ .

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25 Responses to Under A Morrocan Sky !

  1. Steve & Lys says:

    Phewwwwwwww , thank goodness for that !!!!
    I have been pacing up and down the van waiting for your blog , I can also sleep well tonight :0)
    Enjoy
    S&L xxx

    • haha, a real cliff hanger eh ! 😃 Well this is supposed to be an ‘Adventure’ and the best one’s need a bit of suspense otherwise what would I have to write about 😄 Anyway, glad that you can now stop worrying about us and have a decent nights sleep 😉

  2. Tony Bryson says:

    We’ll done, your trip is an inspiration to us armchair travelers, enjoying everything from you the pictures are wonderful showing the countryside,no camels seen yet??? Awaiting you both in Arab
    Gear with Shazz in her Burka………
    Best regards & keep safe
    Tony & Maria
    Ps. Very high winds and snow here in Erskine today..enjoy the sun….

    • Shazza did see some camels as we were driving down but she said they were too small !! What I get Shazza to wear behind closed Motorhome doors is for my eyes only 😂😂 heard about the weather you are having back home, we watch the BBC World weather report and get the BBC News on our iPads, so it should be telling you to stay safe and keep warm !! Glad you are enjoying the blog, I am already ‘drafting’ what we did today, never a dull moment here 😄

  3. Shaun says:

    Hi You Guys. We’ve just read your blog and had to laugh at the exact same stories we were told about coming to Morocco. We listened to them all with tongue in cheek!!!
    We got here on Sat and wasn’t sure which route to take, so when we got out of Tanger Med we decided to go left. Insha’Allah!
    We’ve stopped at Chefchaoun (beautiful place), Fez (hectic) and now we are the only ones in a lovely campsite in Azrou. Everyone has been friendly, the campsites are fine and we’ve had very little hassle even in Fez Medina. All in all loving the place. We are hoping to get down towards Agadir for about 20 Dec so may meet up to say hello if your around.
    Good luck with the rest of your journey and watch out for the suicidal people jumping out at you!!!!!!!!
    Shaun and Dawn and Jäger.

    • Hey, hi to you guys as well, I was wondering who it was in Morocco following my blog, got views yesterday and today so now that mystery has been resolved 😃 Do you think the ‘scaremongering’ is to put even more people off coming here and discovering what a wonderful place it is ? This is only our first stop but our ‘revised’ flexible plan is to get to Agadir as soon as possible, the temperatures are better down that end 😄 however, we are planning on staying here for at least another day and then making a few hops down along the way, so very likely that we will be arriving around the same time as yourselves. Have you got anywhere in mind yet ? Would be good to meet up and share a bottle of water (well something in a bottle, perhaps grape juice flavoured 😉). Take care, safe travels and if I keep an eye out for suicidal pedestrians you keep your eyes open for the ‘stone’ throwers 😂

      • Shaun says:

        Good morning you two. Another day in paradise.😀. I have to get my good lady to kick me on a morning, just to make sure I’m awake and not dreaming. We like you have decided to stay another day where we are (Azrou). We are off to see some Barbery Apes in the Cedar Forest nearby. Beats getting up to go to work or freezing your bits off in UK.
        We were talking to some English and French people in Felesia, Portugal (Lovely Aire), they were put off going by all the scaremongering. Also speaking to some of the campsite wardens here in Maroc, they’ve said it’s very quiete for this time of year.
        We are not sure where we are staying in Agadir, will see when we get there. Mainly going down there to do some Paragliding, Dawn is going for the sun and beach.
        I see you’ve met the mad NZ’s Dennis and Janine! (not sure on spelling). We spent some time with them in Portimao and Silves. Small world this full timing life!!!
        Right off to see the ancestors and let the pooch have a good run around the forest.
        Safe travels. 😎😎😎

        • Afternoon guys (just !), had a stroll around the local town this morning so that’s it, seen it, done it time to move further South 😄 We liked Felesia as well, same owners as the Silves site, both very nice. Yes we bumped into Dennis and Janine a couple of times, as you do, agree with you on it being a small world this fulltiming lark. Enjoy your visit to the forest and no eating the apes lunch !! 😂

    • Chris says:

      Haha hello you two. Trying to catch up on our ex-neighbours blog and there you are, having fun too. Geoffs bike still going strong btw xx

  4. thomas burrell says:

    Hi Folks a great blog You have my sympathy for so much stress We always think it only happens to us bot no its all part of motorhoming life Iwas really hoping You would go to morroco so Iwish you both a really safe and enjoyable trip its one of my really big ambitions Tom

    • Hi Tom, as you say, these things happen, all part of the lifestyle but sometimes you could do without them 😃 Early days yet for us in Morocco but rest assured I shall be telling it like it is, good, bad or indifferent. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for reading my ramblings, hope you continue to enjoy 😉

  5. coolasluck says:

    Hi Eric we are on the edge of our seats,i was right with you with your van starting experience,their is nothing worse than the engine not starting as the sweat sets in on your brow lol.Does shazza blame you when things go wrong? I know my wife does lol.

    Some nice pictures eric i think, going to morocco is a bit like the rumours when you first went to comprehensive from a primary school, you would hear of all the tales of woe and bullying such as the knicker treatment and being hung from a tree.All was well in the end.
    Last week i filled out a form for a redundancy option i like to think it would be excepted but whatever i am still keen as mustard to be on the road from may of next year.Perhaps we may yet come to a campsite near you next year.
    Have fun and good luck over their.

    • Hi Kevin, good to hear from you although I know you follow the blog religiously 😃 as for Shazza blaming me, not quite, but as a driver herself she questions what I have done, did I do this, are you sure etc. etc. I actually think that some of the stories may be true, but that it may have been a one off with some poor unlucky individual, then the story gets passed around and exaggerated ! A bit like being ‘gassed’ 😉 I will keep my fingers crossed for your redundancy acceptance and look forward to seeing you ‘on the road’ next year, even at a CC site near us 😄

  6. Ste T says:

    10 Amp electric! In Morocco! Ha! Ha! Ha! Funniest thing I’ve read in ages! 🙂 So glad to read you’ve finally made it. Just do as you are doing and relax and take each day as it comes. The more you see of the country the more you’ll find it an amazing place. Remember the catchphrase when things turn out different than in Europe. Just look at each other and Say loudly ” AFRICA!”

    Salaam Allekum!

    • I have to confess at being rather sceptical myself when he first told me 10 amp, but actually, we have everything on electric, Shazza is even cooking using the electric hob, water heater, space heating for a couple of hours at night, fridge, TV, charging iPads, electric kettle and it hasn’t tripped once !! So, all I can say is Yea of little faith 😄 Yes, it is early days yet but the locals are all so bloody friendly, even the door traders are polite, say no thank you and off they go, unlike Portugal where they turn on a sob story. I have taken to this first place but I will reserve judgement until we have done a bit more travelling 😉

  7. LOL Brilliant! we were told exactly the same about travelling to Albania from Greece, listen and take note but go for sure 😀 Hope you have a great time ALL of you. If your still there in March hopefully will get to meet some of you, when against every ones better judgement cant wait. Stay safe guys xxx Anne and Bob xxx

    • Hi Anne & Bob, like your feedback I am getting much of the same from lots of other people as well, even some of our fellow travellers who we are meeting, Dutch, Germans and French. Perhaps there have been some bad experiences for some individuals, they happen everywhere not just Morocco or Albania 😄 I am glad we didn’t let the stories put us off, however, we will still remain vigilent we are still only on Day 2 and still pretty much North, will be interesting to see if things change the further South we travel 😎

  8. Stacey says:

    Hi Dad & Sharon 🙂 It looks gorgeous. I spoke to dean and he said the issue with the van sounds like the starter motor as there are loads of mini connections that may be spontaneously mis firing. It’s not too expensive to fix so if it happens again maybe find out what starter motor is in Moroccan!! I have seen the next installment in my inbox so off to read that now. Love ya xx

  9. robeymichael says:

    Glad it all went OK, have fun

  10. Sandra says:

    yay you made it, impressed and totally jealous. the photos are brilliant. Absolutely understand about entering the unknown, I think its good to worry before you get there, never seems that bad then when you do actually get there. Hope you both have an amazing time there, loving reading about it. My jaws were aching laughing about the non stonning of your van 🙂

  11. Debs says:

    Wohoo u made it….and how nice it looks too ☺

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