Saturday, 21 November 2015

Zagora, Morocco

We packed up camp, with a final offer of espresso's for the road from our French friends across the way before we left. As always wishing us bon voyage with safe and happy travels. They were so hospitable and we left feeling humbled by their friendliness and generosity.

Our first stop was the supermarket where we could get a local sim card which would give us access to wifi. We decided to go with Meditel as this seemed to be the one which our phones always connected to. We spent 230 dirhams (£15) per couple which would give us enough wifi access for 4+ weeks and would work in Western Sahara and Maurintania. Perfect! We grabbed a few things from the supermarket and off we headed into the Atlas Mountains. 
Later that evening I turned off the iPad as the hotspot option seemed to have vanished. After turning it back on the SIM card was blocked and we were given no PIN numbers to unblock it. Great, just our luck! The store we bought it from isn't answering their phone either, so that was 230dirhams down the drain! 

But nothing would put us down, so let's get back to the fun stuff! 

We drove through beautiful sceneries with amazing winding roads that Charles kept cursing at because he couldn't experience it on a motorbike. He was a maniac on motorbikes back at home and would drive like a hooligan on these roads if he could. Cat and myself were extremely pleased and relieved that we were in our very slow Land Rovers where we could just chug along safely and slowly. Then Rob piped up that he would do crazy things on this insane road in his mega fast Subaru he once had.... Of course it turned into a 'who's dick is bigger' contest and who would out run each other... Boys will be boys at the end of the day!

The scenery continued to dazzle us for hours; we could never get tired of it. We pulled over at a beautiful spot next to the river where we could have a lunch break. We made our usual wraps and had some time to just admire the gorgeous views. Unfortunately, Cat had come down with a rather nasty runny tummy, cramps and an awful head ache. So she retreated back to the car very quickly to see if she could get some shut eye. The travellers bug, as they call it, had to hit us soon and Cat was the first one. So our plan was to make sure we could find a campsite where there would be a decent toilet. 

After lunch we had to endure more magnificent views and amazing roads while keeping a look out for a campsite. As we came over one of the hills in the mountains we came across a campsite which had panoramic views. We had a quick look at the facilities and we were very pleased to see an amazingly clean and modern toilet, even to European standards! We were also the only ones there, which was even more of a bonus (particularly for Cat). This would certainly do and we would watch amazing sunsets and sunrises from our mountain top campsite.
However after the sun went down at 5:30, it soon started to become extremely chilly as the wind rose quickly up from the valleys below. It was bloody freezing! The owner said very nicely that we could go inside where there was a lounge that people would use when booking out the hotel rooms. What a relief! But we still needed to do the cooking outside, so we prepared ourselves for a very cold night. We made spaghetti bolognese and huddled around the Colman like penguins while trying to block out some if the wind. It took ages but when it was ready, it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered and it was devine. Poor Cat only managed a small bowl which is sad because this is her favourite meal! It always happens like that, doesn't it!? But we spent the rest of the evening in the dark lounge that had no electricity while Charles put on a movie for us on the laptop, Transformers to be exact. A little bit of home comforts was just what Cat needed.

In the morning, we woke up to the most beautiful sunrise (sorry I keep going on about the scenery, it just is so breathtaking!!!)! We packed up and heard two bikers coming up the mountain. They pulled in where we were camped as they noticed we were from England. Seeing fellow Brits in these parts were becoming very rare, normally only seeing Swedish, Dutch, Germans and French travellers. They were running low on Petrol and asked for some help, but unfortunately we only had Diesel. The next petrol station was miles away, but with a bit of luck the owner of the camp site had a small rashon for them to have. As always after having a few laughs and swapping stories of our travels we were on our way again.

A long drive was ahead of us as we headed to Zagora. The boys had noticed a few suspicious noises on their gearboxes and our Daisy had developed a water leak. Sod's law, the gearbox's were the only thing Rob didn't replace in the cars before we left... It always happens that way, but these things need to be sorted while it was still a minor issue.
I had read that Zagora was the place to go for Engine repairs before heading out to the desert, so we were headed to the right place. As we came into the town we had two cars pull us over to say we should go to their workshop where they had helped many English travellers before. We got their cards and stickers, but would do our own research that evening into a recommended garage. We stayed in Les Jardin de Zagora at 65dirham per night (with hot showers and wifi). After reading some reviews and recommendations, we knew which garage we would use so we headed off into town the next day on foot, so that we wouldn't get pestered to get some quotes on parts and labour. Unfortunately because we are not in the peak tourist season, everyone knew about us, so we got pestered anyway. All in the name of fun! 
We are starting to learn not to tell anyone our immediate plans. We mentioned we were going to the desert next.... And of course this flips a switch for them and they go off in a selling tangent. Camel rides, desert tours, cousins shops, rugs, etc.... You name it and they could and would offer it, for free!! But at a small price! Lol!!!

Unfortunately Charles and myself happened to catch a small bit of the travellers bug and found ourselves running, no joke, running to the nearest toilet! It certainly was not much fun. But we certainly didn't have it as bad as Cat and we were on the mend as quickly as we had caught it! So now the three of us are well and attending the loo's at more regular interval. (My apologies for the over share, but a small hint of dia comes with the territory of Morocco. Lol) Rob is the only one that has been fine and refers to himself as having an iron stomach. I suppose this comes with being a mechanic and eating food with filthy hands and never cleaning his coffee cup at work! Ew!!! Lol....

Rob and Charles took Daisy to Chez Ali Nassir's garage the next day and soon found out the problem was worse than he thought and needed a whole new gearbox! Ouch!!! A quote from 2500dirhams(£166) for two bearings to 7000dirhams(£466) for a new gearbox! Not too much we can do about this, but we need it sorted now before it shoots us in the foot somewhere in the middle of Africa. They had a massive room filled with parts, more than Rob has ever seen before, so they were ready for the job! Rob and Charles hung around the garage to make sure the machinists knew what they were doing. 

Cat and I stayed at camp and did some washing and major research into visa's we would need and where to get them for our future travels. We have since found out that the DRC is going to be a nightmare! But hopefully we will try get over this hurdle over the next few months. 
The car was still not done by the end of the day so Charles and Cat kindly attached the back annex under their roof tent so Rob and I could kip at the bottom. We would then do the same the following with Charles and Cat kipping in our annex. 

While waiting for the cars to be sorted Charles was desperate for a hair cut and Cat was up to the job. She got the razor out and would give him a number 4 shave. After this was done, Charles went for a shower to get rid of any itchy loose hairs. We had noticed a few straggly bits when he had returned, so Cat went to go sort it out..... All of a sudden she burst out laughing! Charles was asking what had happened with a panic in his tone. I rushed over to see what the commotion was all about, and I too was in bits while Charles sat there unaware of what had just happened... Cat had put the wrong size on the head of the razor and took a chunk out of his hair. Well, we were all in stitches while we laughed at Charles' misfortune! So it was time for haircut round 2! 

We collected the cars and decided we would stay one more night before moving on. That way the boys could look over the cars and make sure everything was ok before heading off into the desert.

On a more personal note...
For those of you that know Rob and myself, you will know that Rob and I used to bicker all the time at home (All Robs fault, of course!). We often have very different views on things and generally always settled with "let's agree to disagree". They say opposites attract, don't they!?
Our work patterns always used to overlap, so we were lucky to spend one day together during a month. Now we are spending 24/7 with each other and having to learn all over again how to live in harmony and figuring out who's jobs are who's. We love each other to bits, but we also know exactly how to get under each other's skin. So we are finding we are fighting like cats and dogs. Looking back at all our arguments we tend to laugh at how silly we were and always end with a hug and a 'sorry babe'... 'No I'm sorry!'
We are slowly getting there and arguing less and less. But certainly has been a learning curve!
A trip like this really teaches you about yourself, each other and your relationship. I know that during and after this amazing adventure we will become stronger than ever!! 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


We left Casablanca ready to head off inland to Marrakech hoping that we would find a Campsite that would offer hot showers, and wifi. We had looked on the map before we left and were pleased to see there would be a number of options, so we could be a little picky.

After leaving Casablanca we noticed a big change in the scenery as we left the coastline and moved  inland. From palm trees and greenery to various shades of sandy brown with no trees and small shrubs. We were headed towards the desert. We had the windows down with the warm air blowing in our hair (well... Mine anyway) and keeping us nice and cool. With our arms hanging out of the window with the sun beating down on our white English skin, while waving them up and down in the wind as if a dolphin jumping in and out of the water. We drove for miles as we watched the scenery change and we watched the roads disappeared into the far away horizon. This was the life and felt like we were totally free with world as our oyster!

We soon arrived into Marrakech with the welcoming of finished, beautiful burnt orange apartment buildings and well kept bushes decorating the sidewalks. This was different to what we had seen throughout Morocco. We continued through the hustle and bustle of the traffic in search of our first campsite to check out. We had seen a sign and went for it. We drove down a very bumpy almost untarred road which seemed like it was leading to nowhere. Rubbish on the sides of the roads and unfinished buildings began to reappear. I got a sense that this place would be very likely not to offer hot showers, or any for that matter. We arrived and pulled up, as we went to the reception we noticed a pool! Oh my gosh, we were in luck. This place looked amazing. The gentlemen said it would be 90dirhams a night with wifi, hot showers and free access to the pool. What? He must have been joking, £6 and all that!? We were in paradise! (

We decided we would veg out by the pool the next day and just chill out! Just what the doctor ordered. What a fantastic day!

We enquired about a taxi into Marrakech and would go and see the craziness I had read about in Djemma el-Fna. We loved travelling by taxi as it was always an adventure, so we decided to spend the morning vegging by the pool and would catch the taxi at 3pm. We were told Marrakech comes alive after sunset. It was 90dirhams one way and as per normal a battered old Mercedes turned up with even more problems than the ones we had travelled in before. Seats with springs in them that you could feel right to the bone, front dash obviously out of order as almost blacked out, and all sorts of noises that it shouldn't have. This was Africa after all. He said to us he would pick us up at 8:30 and to watch out for the number of his taxi, 1506. And off he went after saying we could pay when he collected us. Wow... So trusting!
We were surprised to walk through a very quiet medina, nothing like we experienced in Fes while weaving in and out of the crowds. Later we noticed they started setting up stalls where the food would be displayed in the evening. So we found a roof terrace where we could order some mint teas and coffee while watching the stalls being assembled. People watching from this point was amazing as we quite obviously picked out which were locals, hotel goers, and back packers by their dress.
It was now almost 5:30 so we headed back into the medina to start choosing between food and which stalls we would be going to for our dinner. I had read to always go to stalls where there was lots of people to avoid getting any tummy bugs the next morning. 

As we entered the food area we had men in all directions who had some serious selling talents. They would try to convince us that their stall was the best and offered a more superior selection of meat and fish. After finding out that we were from Enland they started reeling off lines from Only Fools and Horses and using Cockney rhyming slang. Rob and Charles towed in the back while they were told "Happy wife, happy life", so the focus was on Cat and myself; using an English accent they said theirs was the 'bloody best'... This was crazy and we tried to get them off of our backs while in stitches of laugher. They were hilarious and had done their English homework! 
After regrouping we went in for the slaughter one more time and chose a stall with the most people. We had a mixture of Moroccan foods which we all shared. Breads, olives, couscous, meat on skewers and vegetables, it was absolutely gorgeous. As we sat there we watched as they tried to entice one group of people after another, it was like having dinner and a show. These guys knew what they were doing and were supper skilled.

We headed back into the chaos which had decended in over the course of the late afternoon, with a stroll in the medina before the taxi came to collect us. We watched jugglers, snake charmers, musicians, acrobats and spectators fill the space that once was. We had about an hour and a half to kill, so we aimlessly wandered the streets until eventually we had no idea where we were. We were lost! 
This of course was the beauty of these medina's as the small alleyways winded in and out of each other, making it very easy to forget where you had come from. We obviously looked like lost tourists and a man came over to say he was headed to the centre and we should follow him. Very sceptical as always, we had learnt that the Moroccans do nothing for free, so we followed him reluctantly hoping he wouldn't ask for anything. Finally we were starting to recognise where we were. And of course, as expected, he turned around and said 'something for me?'. This time we thanked him for his help but said we had nothing to give. He said we were welcome in his country and went on his way. Were we finally figuring out the name of the game? Success!!

As we liked this camp site so much we decided to stay for two more days relaxing by the pool! It's such a hard life here in Morocco!

Just before leaving we had great advice from French travellers that have come from a few countries we'll soon be visiting. They gave us contact details for fixers we may need with local knowledge. All of this while offering us whiskey, beer, and snacks. What a treat, from lovely people!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Fez, Rabat, Casablanca

It was a Sunday, the day after our tour in Fez's medina. 
May I just say that keeping track of what day it is, is a task on its own. With no where to be, our time is our own; where we can choose what and when we do things. It's an entirely new and exhilarating feeling! Something we all starting to love more and more. How are we going to slip back into normal, working life when we get back? 
We decided it was time for a spring clean, a normal Sunday for washing and cleaning. When we packed the cars before leaving the uk, and of course being total novices at our new nomadic lifestyle; we all had no idea what we would need or what we would be using. So we all went through our things and threw away items we have soon found out we do not need and taking up unnecessary space. I did a small throughout of clothes that I have realised take too long to dry and therefore have avoided using them, they therefore had to go. Cat and Charles also did some de-cluttering, reorganising their things in the back while we did a spring clean getting rid of dust and the odd crumb I have spilt along the way(much to Robs disgust). Both the boys made small adjustments to the cars like making the cup holders bigger to hold our coffee mugs (this made both Cat and myself very pleased - it's the small things in life). Cat and myself did the washing including all our sheets which we have found is a bit time consuming doing it by hand. I will never ever take my washing machine for granted again! Overall a rather productive morning.

A small walk to the nearest supermarket meant we could get a few things for our gourmet burgers we would have for dinner. After visiting the supermarket we found that the prices were very close to UK prices, so we all decided we would stick to the street markets where we could get veg for next to nothing and only buy the things we couldn't get from the super markets. For example we bought 2 peppers, 1 courgette, 2 tomatoes, couple of carrots, lettuce from the street markets all for 7dirham, that's £0.50. We can deal with those prices even if the veg doesn't look as regular and pretty as what you would find in tesco. What I would say is that the veg has so much more flavour here in Morocco! 

That night we went up to reception where we could connect to the wifi and touch base with the family. The reception in most places is not great, but at least got to chat to Cats parents, and my mom and Roger, with most of the conversations interrupted with a "can you hear me?". Always lovely to see their faces and hear their voices. Unfortunately we couldn't get hold of Robs folks, but hopefully better luck next time. 

In the morning we needed to head off to Rabat to get our visas for Mauritania. We arrived in the capital with a lovely surprise to see the views of the coastal route were very pretty with the road lined with palm trees as far as the eye could see. But our aim was to find a campsite so couldn't stop. Every campsite that was marked on our satnav and maps were either closed or non existent. Eventually we asked a traffic/police officer who confirmed our fears. No campsites in Rabat, but he pointed us in the direction of the closest outside of Rabat. We got to the campsite which had no showers, and very dodgy toilets. But this would have to do, and the owner was a lovely guy that made up for it all... And I suppose at 60dirhams (£4) a night, we couldn't complain.

We woke up early at 6:30 to get to the embassy early, I had read about queues and queues so we were determined to be front of the line before they opened at 9am. We were ready to go at about 7:15 when the owner of the campsite very kindly ordered us a taxi. Again what a great experience travelling like the locals and laughing at the mayhem of the morning traffic. The taxi driver even laughed with us as a guy on his scooter traveling on the wrong side of the road hurtled towards us.

We arrived at 8am with only one person waiting at the door. As time went on only a few more people arrived, but nowhere near the amount I had read about. We started speaking to some of the locals who as per normal were lovely, saying we are welcome in their country. They too were shocked by the lack of queues, but of course happy with our luck.
The door opened and we were handed application forms to fill out. All in French of course. We are so lucky to have Cat with us who deciphered what each question meant. Thank you Cat!!! 
Unfortunately we were shocked to see the visas had gone up in August from 340dirham to 1000dirham (£67)!! Apparently all visa prices have gone up in north west Africa, just our luck!
We handed in our applications and were told to return at 2pm. What an easy and organised process! We had all gone expecting a formal building with top notch security as you would find in London. It turned out to be a hole in the wall with no security and 1man behind the desk. Weird!
So we went into Rabat and had gorgeous mint tea with access to wifi while we waited on our applications to be approved. We slowly made our way back with hope that we would be granted our visas.
The door opened and we queued while one after another were granted their visa. And then us.... We had our passports back with our first visa inside! What a fantastic feeling!

Now we needed to find a taxi that would take us back to the campsite. We waved one down and all piled in, the driver then sayed only 3people. What? We had seen cars piled with 7, 8 people? 
So we piled out and started making our long trek hoping to see a larger taxi along the way. We came to a fuel station where there was a taxi filling up with fuel. Rob went to ask him if he would take us, without knowing the street name or name of the camp site it proved difficult. Charles and Rob pulled out their sat navs and showed him where it was. After all that he then mentioned it was the end of his shift and would need to change drivers, so we all piled in to fetch the next driver and would need to explain all over a again. But both were lovely taxi drivers, so we said goodbye to one and hello to another. Both had really good English which always makes life easier! What fun we were having with this new driver as he was playing old music from our school days which we all sang along to. Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera, the song from Tokyo Drift amount others (all English for our benefit of course)... The taxi's were old Mercedes with 600000kms on the clock, all needing some sort of repair. A very entertaining drive, with him trying to find a gear that would work while we were distinctly aware that there we no seatbelts to be worn. We found these dodgy journeys in the taxis were becoming a huge hit! 

In the morning we headed to Casablanca, a city that reminded us all of Europe. Whe drove past every car dealership you could think off. Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley, Maserati, Audi, VW, and the list continued. We were in a very expensive area on one side and run down buildings, dust in the air, with donkeys on the other. A sight to see.
Finding a campsite was proving difficult again, but luckily we came across one coming out of Casa. This was to be the most expensive campsite to date in Morocco at 105dirham per couple (£7), but at least a hot shower was available. We set up camp while listening to what sounded like a chaotic and unstructured auction where people were screaming into speakers. We were told it was a souk which happened once a week, so we decided to go and check it out. 
This crazy market was buzzing! People selling everything you could think of. After getting over the smells and the flies and the lack of hygiene, we were in. Buying veg for next to nothing! We were loving this! Next was meat, so we wondered through deciding whether we wanted fish, chicken, or beef. The fish looked a bit dodgy so we avoided that. The chickens were to be killed in front of you, so we avoided that! It was down to beef, were we ended up making friends with the butcher. He cut the meat up in front of us, while blood spewed everywhere. On my arm and top! Gross! I asked if I could take a picture, but at first he hesitated and then told me to climb under the counter where I could hold a cows food while he hugged me with his hands dripping with blood. 

Back to the campsite it was with our veg and beef in tow. Ready for a night playing Uno around the table. We had gained a pet dog for the night which we name Scroffels. She loved having some fuss and couldn't quite understand the game of fetch. But we did give her a treat and gave her a couple of bones from the beef. She was in her element and we were pleased she was chasing away all the meowing cats(Moroccan rats). Obviously the beef bones weren't enough as she decided to take a souvenir and ran off with one of Cats flip flops in the night. 

I am totally loving the Moroccan way. This is an absolutely amazing country with amazing, friendly people! The roads are mostly and surprisingly very well kept, crazily driven on by old, battered cars, scooters and donkeys. The fruit and veg is amazing in taste while looking very irregular and needing a good old scrub before you can eat them. Their toilet facilities need some.. actually lots of TLC, with a rear occasion that you will find toilet paper and soap. The scenery is absolutely beautiful even with their unfinished buildings, but unfortunately there is a lot of rubbish lying around which is always sad to see. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015


Driving into Fez was crazy as per normal with the rules of the road taken only with a pinch of salt. Charles soon had a guy on his scooter offering him to be our guide. Telling Charles to follow him to a campsite near by. We knew which campsite we wanted and it wasn't the one he was offering. This guy was like a bad rash we just couldn't get rid of. Charles and this relentless crazy Moroccan continued to have a conversation while travelling at 40km/h side by side. Certainly did make us laugh, but we admired his persistence.
Eventually he got the message and left us in peace.

We arrived at the campsite which was a very fancy place with amazing looking bungalows and a very large reception which was a different experience to the normal small dark room at the entrance to the campsite. We immediately thought, ouch this is going to be expensive! But we were pleased to see it was only 100dirham(£6.70) a night. And even better that we didn't need to pay separately for a hot shower as per the campsites in Tanger and Chefchaouen.

We set up camp when a lovely gentlemen called Wafi (the hotel manager) came over to see if we were doing OK and what our plans were in Fez. We told him our plan was to go into town the next day to see the Medina, the tanneries, etc. He said it's definitely worth taking a guide and that he would be happy to take us in for the day at 340dirham per couple including the mini bus. (That's £23 per couple). We agreed and would be ready at 9am in the morning ready to be collected from reception. 

We arrived at reception at 8:30, with enough time for a coffee to set us up for a busy day in Fez. The mini bus arrived and we were off. Wafi had a wealth of knowledge as he taught us all about the history and gave us some explanations with regards to the woman in the Muslim faith. From a European sense it seems unfair and as if woman are looked down upon. According to him he said there is a great respect for woman as they are the bearer of a child, they should be looked after by a man. He kept saying behind every good man there is a great woman. He mentioned how each generation was becoming more and more  European in their dress sense, with the older generation covering up everything and the younger less so. We had noticed this already driving down.

Our first stop was at the Royal Palace in Fez el-Jdid(new Fez), it became a place to protect and house Jew families during the war. It was a beautiful building with amazing mosaic tiles decorating the doors, a stunning example of modern restoration. We then headed off to a lovely view point of the city and the beginning of a very large grave yard. He was saying that when a husband dies, the wife is only able to visit the grave 3 days after he is buried. She is not able to see her husband being buried as she is a sensitive soul and it is too difficult for her(a woman) to deal with the loss. Very interesting. 
The views were amazing and he spoke to us about the several large gates that were built with entry to different parts of the city. He pointed out where the tanneries were and the centre of the Medina. 

Our next stop was the pottery and mosaic tile makers. We watched in awe as a gentlemen made a tagine pot without measuring the sizes of the pot and lid, but yet they fitted like a glove. Fantastic work. We wondered through the building taking in the unusual smells of Fez, until we came to a room where there were 5 men who were chipping away tiles to create desired shapes that would later be made into a beautiful pieces of art. We watched a guy making a table top upside down. How did he know the pattern off by heart? He had no design or template in front of him. The table top would take 1 month to complete. I left with a new found respect for mosaic designs, and immediately thought of the designs around the mosque's and other important buildings. It would have taken ages to complete.
We were faced with such beautiful pieces of art that it was therefore a must that we left with a souvenir; so Cat and myself ended up buying 4 cups each with beautiful designs on them for about £5 each.

We headed into the Medina, which was a maze of street stalls, people, donkeys, very small alleyways, beautiful architecture and of course not forgetting the cats. How did Wafi know where he was going? We would have gotten seriously lost without him. 
We headed into a large room with large Rugs hanging from the walls all made by unfortunate woman who were either divorced or widowed without a man to take care of them. They would make these rugs and therefore make a living as this facility would make sure they were looked after by finding buyers for their art. We were offered sweet mint tea (the national drink of Morocco) while we were shown different designs of rugs and given some history on the trade. The guy from the facility was a smooth talker and soon began to make a hard sale on us. Cat and Charles declined just as much as I did, but he played the guilt trip card by saying the ladies needed money to look after their children, they would go homeless without our help. His focus was on me now. How was I going to get out of this!? After a while of telling him firmly we couldn't afford it as our trip had only begun and we were on a tight budget, he would only sell harder. He reduced one of the rugs (a beautiful bright turquoise blue, the colour of Fez) slowly from 4500dirhams (£300) to 1500dirhams (£100). Rob eventually said, 'we'll take it', as at some point this had to end, we needed to see more of Fez and he wasn't letting up.
I left feeling unhappy that we had been forced into a sale and spending money we just don't have to throw away. But I also know that once this trip is over it will forever be a beautiful reminder of Fez and our experiences in this crazy, stunning country. 

Our next stop was the tanneries. But first Wafi needed to stop and pray in one of the mosques. We as non-Muslim were not able to enter so we waited outside. We watched as all the men took off their shoes and entered - men are to pray in a different location to woman as not to distract their prying eyes. They all knelt down, and placed their heads down to the ground with their bums in the air.  
About 15min later he returned to us and off to the tanneries we went, with the smells getting stronger the closer we got. Unfortunately they were under construction so we couldn't see what they would look like normally, but we were shown a video as a demonstration. We were led down up to a shop with leather jackets, bags, belts, etc. Another hard sale was leading our way. This time I refused! The aim of the game was to not act interested, and we left with nothing. Phew!!! 

Then it was off to the pashmina and oil stores.... This is what I wanted to get in Morocco! A gorgeous 100% pashmina scarf (220dirham = £15) and Moroccan/Argon oil (200dirham = £14) for my hair! So happy with both these items. Becky will be pleased to hear I'm looking after my hair 😄

After a jam packed day we needed a bite to eat, a late lunch. Wafi said he needed to go but would get someone to direct us to the best restaurant in town where the boys could even have a beer. Wafi introduced us and said he would make sure after lunch that we found the minibus. So off Wafi went and now we had to follow this new guide. He pointed to us to follow him and he was off like lightening!!! Weaving in and out of the people and donkeys, he was actually running. How were we to keep up? Cat did very well and kept on his tail while the rest of us got caught up in the traffic. What was the rush?? In the end I was in total hysterics. This was the strangest thing. We were running as if being chased! Weaving in and out of people. We finally arrived and we were all laughing at this sudden crazy chaotic event. 
We climbed up a never ending flight of stairs until we got to the terrace overlooking Fez. We all took a deep breath and perched ourselves on a chair to catch our breathe. We received some menus and were shocked at the price. Very expensive. After rob and I had spent so much already we decided to share a meal. It was a four course meal to choose from, so cat and I chose the same while Charles chose another. With such a weird menu Cat tried her best to ask if it was per person or for the table. But he assured us not for the table. 
The food arrived and oh my gosh, did it keep coming! Two would have been perfect for the table; what a relief Rob didn't order. We left feeling rather uncomfortable having eaten FAR FAR FAR too much. Almost felt like we should have rolled home. The bill came to 500dirhams, 250 per couple wasn't actually too bad at £17 for our mental amount of food we were given. These large values are sometimes very scary before we calculate what thay actually means to us.

We eventually got back to the mini bus where the driver was top notch. His English was very good as he asked us how our day was. He asked the guys whether they wanted beer. They hesitated as they thought it was a trick question, then with a simultaneous response.... "YES!" So he took us to a local supermarket that sold beer and wine. While driving back to the campsite the driving style of the locals all made us laugh. We spoke about how crazy the roads were and how different it was in England. He laughed with us seeing our point, but still had a "meh, this is Morocco, it's how it works" attitude. Just brilliant! 

We got back to the campsite to find the 11 caravans had arrived. How were we going to distract the 4kids from the previous camp site? Charles hid in his car whilst Cat, Rob and myself tried to distract them. Eventually Cat had a brilliant idea and mentioned they should play hide and seek. Finally we could enjoy our evening in peace and Charles could come out of hiding. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Tanger to Chefchaouen(Morocco)

Our trip on the ferry towards Morocco left us with a feeling of the unexpected as we said our goodbyes to what we know as civilisation. We waited on the boat for about an hour and a half before we departed Terifa, Spain. The storm was still on tow and the hour long ferry crossing was choppy and left us with green faces.  We arrived and our African adventure was here. The crew loosened up the straps holding Daisy and Ditzy on as they hung off the edge of the ferry. We backed up and we were on Moroccan soil... What a feeling!

Customs was interesting as we queued up behind the gates that would soon open for us. We all had a "what now" moment as we sat very confused as to what the next process would be. We watched as the customs officers walked around with no hurry or rush(we were on African time). They seemed to focus on vehicles that were packed to the brim and asked the owners to unpack the contents onto the floor. I was hoping we wouldn't have to do the same! Eventually there was a guard that came over with some paperwork to be filled in. He helped Rob and Cat followed by a "something for me now" so we gave him 5dollars. (Totally unsure and new to this so weren't sure how much was a good amount, but his help was muchly appreciated). Charles and Cat were in front of us and Cat was told to go up to the offices, as she disappeared around the corner, everything I had read kicked in and was immediatly nervous that she was out of sight and alone. But they soon asked me to join her up the stairs. As I had no escort with me like she did I had no idea where to go. I soon had about 5 men around me telling me they'll tell me where to go. I firmly said to them that I had no money to give them and would find my own way, but one of the men said to me sternly "I work for the government and I am paid to help you, so I'm not asking for your money." Silly me... I believed him! But he ended up being a huge help and wasn't the worst thing that he showed us the way. Once Cat and I got back to the cars after having registered the cars, the guard came round and asked the boys to open up the back doors. They weren't really interested in the cars but did ask them sternly "have any pistols?". Passports stamped and the gates were opened for us. Our fixer was on the other side directing us to the vehicle insurance booth, so Charles and Rob went with him while Cat and I still nervous about the safety stayed with our cars. We payed 950 dirhams(£65) for a one month vehicle insurance and we were ready to head to the nearest campsite before the rain came. Our fixer told us where the nearest campsite was and then sneakily added "have you got any change for the family? 100dirhams each will do." 

We arrived at our first campsite for only 70 dirham a night (£5 a night), we can get used to this! We set up camp before walking into town to see what Morocco was all about. What an eye opener! People on scooters driving up the wrong side of the road, with no helmets and with no limited to 2 people on a scooter. Cars were old, battered and all were hooter happy! Lanes? What lanes? People just drive as they like. What brilliant chaos! The rain started to come down so we retreated to a restaurant that we could see had woman guests inside. All the little cafes on the side of the road only had men in them (they are places were men talk business and things that are not nice for woman to hear), later we learned that as a lady tourist we are more than welcome and wouldn't be frowned upon. 
We sat near the window where we could watch the hassle and bustle of a VERY busy round about with two lanes that very often became four. Cat and I ordered some of the local teas and the boys very strong coffee. The rain wasn't subsiding so we made our way into the rain and back to our camp site.

In the morning the rain still had not given in, so we packed up camp in the pouring rain. Cat noticed a tiny meow coming from our rear back tyre, it was the tiniest little kitten who eventually ran away after trying to get it out. After that we noticed that they were everywhere, so the boys decided to open their bonnets to see if they had any inhabitants throughout the wet and rainy evening. Charles had one which was so wedged in, they tried everything to get this poor kitten out before we departed. The rain was coming down and we were all getting soaked. It was above the gearbox and therefore had no way of reaching it. After about an hour of trying to pry it out and it crawling further and further into all the tiny crevices of the engine, we had to give up and take it with.

After driving about 100kilometres we pulled over at a view point and Charles opened the bonnet. We were expecting a fried kitty, but it jumped out and ran into the bush. Our hearts melted for this cute little creature! We hope it is still alive, but we've soon learned that Cats are like rats in Morocco. They are EVERYWHERE!!! 
We headed onto a 4x4 track and made our way over the edge of the Rif mountains. What beautiful views we saw with the sea and mountains creating the idealic time to take some gorgeous snaps. After driving for quite some time we were overwhelmed by how many people lived and worked in the hills, miles and miles from any town or tar road. Young children herding sheep, little huts all over the place, people just dotting about with their donkeys. It seemed very strange. But we slowly drove along while Daisy and Ditzy made their way up the rocky slopes. We passed three very mischievous looking boys and felt a sense that we needed to drive quicker. But as we were in low range, there wasn't much we could do but tinker past them. One jumped on the back of Charles' Ditzy. We thought they were just having a laugh but later found out that he had stolen the warning triangle out of his trasharoo on the back tyre. He had tried opening the back door but luckily Charles had locked it. Lesson learned!

We arrived in Chefchaouen, the blue town which I had read about before coming to Morocco. I couldn't wait to get here! Most of the houses are all decorated with bright blue paint which makes this town very unique. We pulled up in town and needed to find a bank and get some food for dinner. We went in search of a bank and soon found one with the help the friendly Moroccans. We saw that they had a market in town so we had a walk through with total disgust as all the food was covered in bees to the point where you couldn't see the food beneath. The crazy thing was that people were buying it and eating it! We had never seen anything like it. We decided we needed a supermarket after that and were told there was no supermarket in the area. Panic took over as we all thought, 'what are we going to eat in the coming months?' We left with no food and thought we'd do something with our rashons, spam, pasta and rice. So we left for the campsite, and luckily on the way we saw a little corner shop so stopped to see what it had. We bought a kind of beef balcony called Camping... Lol! And roll of cheese, which we bunged together to make a random pasta. We were getting good at making the most out of what we had. 
In the morning we headed into town to explore after all having icy cold showers!! Brrrr... But It was absolutely roasting and we were glad the rains had gone and the sun was out in force. We wondered through town admiring all the stalls and how it seemed as though so many people were hanging around and not doing much work? We stopped off and ordered some lunch from a lovely restaurant sat on the balcony taking in the sights of Chefchaouen. We weren't sure what we had ordered, but a bread platter arrived that was absolutely gorgeous. We sat in the sun enjoying our food, olives and orange juice(shame, no beer for the boys)! 
After lunch we headed back into town looking for a better source of food. We bought some veg and beef to make a stew. We had gotten used to seeing the veg not looking as 'pretty' as you'd find in Tesco and realised we just needed to wash them thoroughly. The meat(1kg) was gorgeous even if it did have the odd fly or two on it. All that cost us 86 dirham which is about £5.50 for all that. Not bad going really. So we headed back to the campsite in the boiling hot sun. Absolutely gorgeous!
I was a bit disappointed in Chefchaouen as all the pictures I had seem were of a beautiful town, but what we had seen was pretty but  nothing like the pictures. The buildings were all unfinished, rubbish everywhere and only small details of blue on the houses. 
We decided to give Chefchaouen one more go after a very lazy but productive morning. The boys gave the cars some much needed TLC. Daisy had a little water which developed in southern Spain. Rob found it and fixed it with ease. Ditzy needed a wheel bearing and the panard rod tightening. After the duties of the morning done we headed into town taking a different route. We had found what I was looking for! A beautiful steep staircase down the mountain side into town. We had come across a beautiful cascade where the Moroccans do their clothes washing which lead into the beautiful part of town I'd read about. We stopped and had a yummy tagine for lunch (not forgetting the flies and cats wondering around us looking for scraps). We headed back into town to get some more meat and veg. What a perfect day! 
After getting back to camp we had a tour crew that decended onto the camp site with 11caravans. Mainly from England, but it was quite nice to speak to some friendly faces who could speak English. Naturally they were all very entrigued about our trip and wished us all well. There was a family with them of 4children under the age of 7, they seemed to have latched onto Charles and wouldn't leave his side. Rob and Charles threw the rugby ball with the eldest boy Nico, who was having a great time with them. 

In the morning after yet another freezing cold shower, we paid (3nights =285dirham/£19) and made our way down to Fez. 

(Unfortunately I don't have better pics on hand at the moment, so I will post at a later date.)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Spain to Morocco

After an amazing night out with Kevin and Heike we got up in the morning feeling a little worse for wear. We packed up at a slow pace and said goodbye to the residents in the camp site. They seem to spend winters in Spain and then head back home for the summer. All very lovely people who all seem to come from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and of course England. They were all very interested in our adventure and the vehicles, all coming up to take photo's and having a nosy around the cars. When we left it was like having another leaving party with them all congregating to say goodbye and wishing us safe travels.
We were on the road again and made our way down south where we stopped at a very crowded campsite called La Manga ( You could even call it a village as people seemed to make their caravans permanent with great big satellite dishes in their tiny pitches. Packed in like sardines, we all had the same idea that this place was mental and couldn't understand why people flocked to it. Possibly just not our cup of tea as we love open space with views, but we paid 14euros for the night, so couldn't complain.

After spending some time in France and Spain, I have personally come to the conclusion that the Spanish seem to be much more friendly than the French (however the French do know how to make lovely little cakes and pastries). The houses seem rather run down but there are lovely little places that stand out from the rest. I particularly enjoyed driving in Spain as the views were absolutely beautiful with large areas devoted to farming with beautiful orange tree's and vineyards. We did however, pass many prostitutes which surprised me! Is there such a large market for them to be sat at every 100 yards? It saddens me to realise so many have had such a bad life that they are brought to sell their bodies. It makes me realise how lucky I am!

It was time to hit the road in the morning, we made our way down to the next camp site that had a lovely heated pool which was such a treat. We spend the evening and the morning having long dips with the boys doing back flip and tricks into the big pool. Such fun!! The local residents too came to say their hello's and warned us of the torrential rains coming in the next couple of days. They weren't wrong either, at the next camp site it certainly did come down. As the weather was so bad there were no Ferries running that day so we booked one for the next at £150 per couple and car and hoped for the weather to improve. So we sat by the bar and drank far too much with the beer only being 1.80 euro's each.  We met a lovely gentlemen from Germany called Martin who was travelling southern Europe on his bicycle. We swapped stories and got happily merry together. We invited him for dinner and enjoyed a good old spag bol. He seemed to love the company and so did we. What a great way to spend out last night in Spain.

In the morning the weather had subsided after a very stormy night, so it was time to head for the ferry, and say goodbye to Europe.

(I have started our expenses and have decided not to publish it till the end. If you are thinking of doing a trip like this, and would like to have an idea of what we are spending our money on, please don't hesitate to send us a message and I'd happily forward it to you. This was something I really struggled to find when doing my research.)