Time to go…
Thursday morning and time to go and meet a few members of MotorhomeFun.com in the world-famous Lidl car park in Algeciras. I’ve 2 corrections to add to that, I’ts not in Algeciras, it’s Los Cortijilos and it’s no longer Lilds car park. Lidl got a bit fed up with all the campervans, a huge new Carefour opened up, right next to Carlos’s ticket shop, they don’t,t want campers on there either, but there is a piece of waste land in front of the ticket office which will hold 300+ vans n36.17916 w5.44111.
Tickets bought for €200, seems to be the going rate for a MoHo, it doesnt matter how many people are in it, it’s the same price. Vehicle import paperwork completed by ‘team Carlos’ and Frankie added (in ink pen) to the import ticket. The free gift from Carlos has progressed too, from a bottle of cider and a lump of chocolate cake, to a (not bad) bottle of vino tinto and a chocolate covered sponge cake, both devoured on our second night in Morocco. Time to fill up on alcohol from Lidl, 3×24 packs of lager, 20 bricks of vino titno and a few bottles of whiskey didn,t seem too much for 40+ days. We didn,t need to get up too early, as our ferry wasn’t due to til 11:30, but were woken at 06:15 by dozens of Frenchies going for the 08:00 ferry, in hindsight, that may have been a better ferry to catch. At 09:45 a convoy of 6 vans left “the waste-ground” for a 20 minute cruise into the port (Porto) in Algeciras, well signposted & easy enough, we were the first in line for the 11:30 ferry.
Most of the campers were instructed to drive on forwards, a couple at the rear were instructed to reverse on, they would be first off, this was not a roll-on-roll-off ferry, we all had to leave by the same entrance we entered by. The que for the passport stamp had started before we got up the stairs, but its wasn’t too long & we were stamped-in 15 minuets, cross reference the stamped number to your vehicle import/export documents & we were free to enjoy the rest of the ferry trip.
Big printed signs on the doors to the outside informed us “no passo” & “passage probhibido” so i guess you can,’t get outside. It was clear enough to see Spain & Africa from the ferry windows but didn’t see any dolphins in this busy little stretch of water. Once docked, all the HGV’s were out first giving us plenty of room to drive around the front of the ferry & off the ramp. The following 1km of tarmac through customs took more than 2 hours. First off, for the customs employees, we’d arrived just before prayer time, so drop everything & get your mats out. Next, lunch! another half an hour, and so on. Nothing seemed to move very quickly at all. Another ferry load of cars lined up behind us, all of which actually made it through customs before I did.
Paperwork checked & altered, by hand, in ink, a quick look in the garage (checking for people, not booze, they don’t seem to care how much alcohol you bring in) and we were instructed to go…we were in! There’s a money exchange booth & cash machines 100m after this on the right and also a little portacabin that does vehicle insurance. At the time fellow travelers were quoted 1000Dh (€85) for 1 month, 2000Dh (€170 or aprox £145) for up to 3 months. This tarrif applies to £100,000 MoHo’s, £50,000 cars & Frankie the 90cc scooter! Even after pleading & feigning to walk away, the price never came down, so I had no choice but to part with the cash if I wanted to legally ride Frankie on the roads in Morocco, third-party cover only…but it’s legal. I can’t believe for a minute that most of the ‘Moto,s’ scooters & mopeds we see around Morocco, even in city’s like Tanger, (Tangiers) are insured, most of them have no licence plate anyway, so that stuck in my throat a little bt what can you do? I don’t fancy any quality time in a Moroccan jail.
Paperwork done, we were soon blatting down a nice stretch of smooth motorway towards Tanger. It cold have been mistaken for the M1 in the UK, but for the dramatic landscape & animals by the side of the road, sheep mainly with a few donkeys and a guy on a 50cc moped with no helmet or glasses thrown in for good measure.
Once nearing Tanger, the traffic density increased, the number of lorries and taxi’s on the road was surprising. On one round-a-bout there were 2 lanes of traffic coming into 6 lanes of round-a-bout, then back down to 2 lanes again. It seems you need to stop on the round-a-bout if the stream of traffic in front of you (coming from the right) has the natural momentum to go, only when there’s a gap can you jump in & start a new stream of traffic priority. We even saw one lad on a scooter coming around the round-a-bout in the opposite direction, picking his way through the stationary vehicles. It’s a bit nuts, but surprisingly good-natured. None of the “F**k you mate”, London type attitude to driving, everyone was smiling and giving a little ‘pap-pap’ on the horn if the one in front was a little hesitant. Several people gave us a wave, some upon seeing our ‘English flag’, gave us a big smile & waved frantically or gave the ‘thumbs-up’.
This next clip is an extract of a typical situation in Morocco. I want to turn right, the little black/blue van with the ‘4-way flashes’ on has broken down. The vehicles in the centre of the road are coming into our street, note the cyclist (with balls of steel) who takes the opportunity of slow traffic to scoot across the junction. There’s only just enough room for me to creep around the corner, taking a large chunk of curb with it, an alternative route of going to the left of the van & cutting right would be impossible for me. Then to add to the situation, there’s a little van/Berlingo type parked against the central reservation and the girl crossing nearly gets wiped-out by a car that swerves to avoid it…all typical Moroccan driving, not a car without a dent and all the taxi’s have at least 6 passenger’s, plus the driver!
Many people have said “they wouldn’t go anywhere near Tangiers/Tanger”, we don’t know why. With hind-sight, it seems to be as ‘Western’ as Morocco gets. An easy way to adjust into the Moroccan groove. Very busy streets, hustle & bustle, but no pressure, no… ‘look-at-my-work’, no… ‘come-look-no-buy’ men every 10 metres. There’s a great beach front you can escape to down any sloped street and there, there’s a haven from the noise of the busy streets.
We walked first along the beach-front, about 3 miles, than cut into the city & walked the route we drove on the way in, stopping to take in all the new sights….a perfect stop to adjust to life in Morocco. We stayed at ‘Camping Miramote’ 100Dh pn, (€10 or £8.50) w35.79092 w5.83273, the camp was basic to say the least, but the separate showers were hot and were extra, the steep slope on entry to the camp had Charlie’s heart racing a bit too.
Have a good weekend. Cefchoun, Meknes & Fes next.