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.)