Were off!… ‘It’s ferry to Morocco day!’
I can’t remember the last time we set an alarm to wake us in the morning, but we need to be up by 07:00, off and moving by 08:00-ish, LPG top-up at 08:30 and queued for the ferry by 09:15 ready for the 10:00 sailing…sounds like a plan. It was a plan. But like all great plans…it all went to the wall. Got up, check…filled up with LPG, check…got to the ferry terminal at 09:15 to be informed ‘no space on any ferry until 22:00!’ They were only taking 10-12 Moho’s per ferry, there’s one at 10:00 and one at 16:00, you are now #33 in the queue. Judging by the amount of containers being towed onto the awaiting ferry, we suspect they are attempting to shift the back-log of lorries from Spain back to Morocco. If we’d have left the waiting area and returned later, we may have lost our place in the queue, there were 40+ Moho’s parked in a row, so we had no option but to sit in ‘the ferry departures’ car park for over 12 hours.
It’s at times like this, we’er glad we carry our home with us. If we want a cuppa, we can just put the kettle on, hungry? just open the fridge and dig in. Loads of others in this car park weren’t in such a good position, small vans and cars also had to wait 12+ hours along with us. After doing a circuit of the car park several times, a light lunch and a ‘nanna-nap’ and it was approaching 9pm, almost time to shuffle onto the ferry. We’d been told by many a traveler before us that the ports of Ceuta and Tangier were “a nightmare of confusion” and to be avoided at all costs, that’s why we plump for Algecarias to Tanger-med. We hope this is just a ‘blip’ in the service as usual for this port. It didn’t help that the other 4 gates here seemed to dispatch it’s customers fairly rapidly. Perhaps it’s time ‘Carlos the ticket agent’ switched ferry companies.
It was a great relief to finally get moving at 21:30 and we were rolling onto the ferry to Morocco and I’d no idea where we’d be sleeping that night. The Gibraltar straight was calm and we docked an hour and a half later without spilling one drop of much needed, caffeine laden coffee.
The thing that jumps out straight at you is the lack of ‘Health and Safety’ signs, a simple ferry trip across the mouth of the med, it highlights how obsessed northern Europe is with H&S. Here, no longer in Europe, there’s an emphasis on ‘look after yourself, for no-one will do it for you’. Fall in a hole on the pavement? – “you should have looked where you were going” sort of culture exists, you won’t get much sympathy from many folk, others have bigger problems than you, after all you are just a visitor, suck it up and get on with life. Last September we crossed over to France via ‘the chunnel’, I must have been asked or instructed at least 4 times to turn the gas off. There’s even a little fella that lives in a box just before you board the train whose only job is to physically check that you turn the gas off. What a striking difference here in Morocco, no signage, no instruction…nowt. “Hey…leave the gas on we don’t care, don’t select first gear, don’t apply the hand-brake, it’s your MoHo that’ll be rolling around down here bashing between the wall and the van behind, it may finally go boom because you didn’t turn the gas off, but there’s no come-back on us.” …We turn the gas off, select 1st gear and apply the hand-brake, because we were brought up in a world before the term ‘No-win-no-fee’ ever existed.
Charlie was in the same spot as we left him. Intact and undamaged, hand-brake still firmly on. As the ramp went down, we were second out of the blocks and 40 mins later, squeezing through customs unscathed, Mr. Customs couldn’t care less how much alcohol we’d stashed into every crook-n-nanny. We got parked up in front of the insurance/currency exchange booths on the Tanger med port. A few other vans were parked up for the night, it was 23:30 (or 00:30 it depends how you want to think about it, as we just gained an hour) so we thought we’d join them for a free night. Let’s get some sleep after this 14 hour ordeal and start afresh with Morocco in the morning. I didn’t fancy roaring down the motorway in the dark anyway.
Apart from the flag pole strings slapping against the hollow poles, (ting-ting-ting all night) it wasn’t a noisy place to sleep. The whether is a bit pants, squally, wet, windy, everything but sleet at the moment, but the forecast is improving.
I stuffed the Halifax Clarity card into the ATM and out popped 500Dh, (about €50) we’re going to need some of it for the tolls on the motorway to Asilah.
The main motorway from Tanger-med to Casablanca is as good as any stretch of French toll tarmac. Cycles, carts, donkeys and motos (scooters/mopeds) under 50cc are not allowed, that’s not to say the don’t use it, they just don’t get caught often.
Heading for our first planned stop of this tour, Asilah…Inshallah.
Soon be the weekend.