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. 

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