The temp repair was effected on the old Troopi and now we were ready to go, having bought Moroccan cash at the booth, you can’t really get the currency back home in the UK. Purchased also was a months worth of fully comp insurance for £70 With all documents stowed we set off, finally too we were the complete group, Ian now had is wife beside him and we’d joined with Jim and his wife Karen in their old Disco 2. It was a bit cloudy as we pulled out of the new port area here at Tanger Med, it is a much better facility that Couta (pronounced soota)the one Id used last time.
The customs area at Tanger Med..nice and empty due to religious holidays (Easter)
Off we drove out of the huge fenced area and into the country properly onto a new motorway, we drove a while before pulling into the first service station to fuel up on half price diesel. We would drive the coast line all the way down to Kenitra on this motorway before leaving it to turn east inland passing Meknez and into Fez. the M-way suited the purpose this afternoon in that we wanted to get to the camp and settled before darkness.
Julie first sight of Moroccan trucks load arrangement. Fill it up then double it! At harvest times they treble it and its even harder to get around them.
It was in the twilight that we arrived and I dived straight to the flattest part with patchy grass, the others didn’t really have to think about where to pitch, for us it was the most important aspect on arrival so tended to seem to be in a bit of a rush to grab the spot then set to and deploy the tent and stuff. We soon got settled and so after tea we congregated at Pete’s truck for a few drinks and a chat before turning in. We would be taking a tour in the morning of Fez with a guide.
Morning arrived with some warmth and a worn out dog that insisted in talking away to himself for a couple of hours. Lucky for him we didn’t see him, but boy could we hear him! No mater it’s all part of the adventure, the small mini bus was waiting for us with our very pleasant and smily guide. His English was fab and made life easy this morning, though some of the stuff he began to explain about was a bit far-fetched, he was explaining how the woman and her body thought for example. Other than that waffle he was quite interesting to listen to! The bus dropped us at the centre and we alighted onto a very clean square made of pattern tiles and watched over discretely by men in uniform.
The team and our very happy guide.The next time he can come all the way with us
Next stop was the massive indoor market which again was fairly quiet due to the religious holidays, it was really a small covered village with every street lined with store and small shops, we had to stay together as it was easy to get lost, I think I’ve a good sense of direction but every street corner every alley looked identical and of course I could read the street sign so keep close we did!
A sign post somewhere in the market
Having a guide on this occasion was useful as it kept the hawkers at bay, his smile occasionally vanished as he admonished a character or two. It allowed us to look and not throw a quick glance hurriedly walking on as in the markets in Tunis yrs ago where I was ready to smack the next bloke who grabbed my arm!
Often we turned into the next street to be met by a fully loaded mule or donkey coming our way, this one seems to be lightly loaded.
Taking photos of people was still a bit of a song and dance, some just didn’t want to know, others wanted paying as the old guy signals to me, so quite often Id pretend to take a photo of something else then quickly point and shoot the subject.
The guy above was bashing away with the most crappy of hammers ive ever seen aiming his chisel at what suspiciously looks like a 105mm artillery shell casing…. Keep moving folks! Metal workers repaired tools and old cutlery.. ladies sold fine clothes.. seeds and spices were offered..Jim indulged eating some of the stuff on offer Hmm not sure if that wise with our un-acclimatized stomachs I thought to myself..We visited a tannery but it was getting a spring clean as the King was due for a visit in a few weeks so all the pots were empty. The leather goods on display I have to say were fantastic and the guys explained what and how in great detail. Did you known they use camel skin to make some things for example? No, neither did I. We were given a sprig of mint to hold to our noses to guard against the smell, but it was fine today, it might have been different if the tannery was working.
We were shown into a cool building and given a talk about their carpets whilst sipping tea. The guys rolled out a dozen or so carpets which I have to say looked and felt beautiful but we were not here to buy carpets, they guys were pleasant and friendly enough even though they didnt get a sale from us today, we bumped into several other groups in the market and no doubt they would end up here so better look the next time boys.
Now ladies and gents this one is REALLY special..
We experienced a clothes /robe/ footwear shop too with its many of little rooms and eager ladies and gents all happy to show you something special. Colourful and cool it was and full to the brim with exotic cottons silks and woollens but still no sale thank you all the same. It was time to leave we were led down many alleyways to come out into the open air. I stood looking at the sunken car park next to the dump and smiled. Ha! this is where I had tea with the old boy minding the trucks whilst everyone else came into the market on our last visit! I saw his hut (made of a transit van rear section) but there was no sign of the old boy today.
The coach took us to the edge of old Fez for a look and a bit more information. it was a patchwork of brown and tan squares many with the requisite sat dish nailed to the roof.
Surprisingly I enjoyed the little tour around Fez, mainly due to it being half empty I have to say. The drive back to the camp site was extremely entertaining as cars and people played chess on the road, god only knows what it must be like on an ordinary working day!
We had collected lunch on the way back consisting of chicken and chips 10 times which we consumed in the dinnertime sun before packing the chairs away and pulled out of dodge, heading south once more. Bye bye Fez!
The next time I move house Im gonna hire a Moroccan to pack my stuff!
We journeyed south to Midelt passing through a couple of National parc’s, We visited briefly part of the fantastic Ceder Forest, it’s actually a huge area and not just a forest, it does has forests but it also has plains and vast rolling valleys. In the distance we could see the mountains of the High Atlas, an imposing ridge of mountains that seemed to block the way ahead, they looked so huge from the first instant we were getting closer and closer to them as the day progressed, Peter said a few times, “hey guys this time tomorrow we will be camping up there in the snow line” as though preparing us for some more cold! We pulled into the camp site after a long slog down the road. I hade been here before! It was the site of the “cami knickers incident” refer to the previous trip for the full story!
The journey from Fez to Midelt
When the sun drops it does get cold even here in Morocco!
Troopi in the woods!
This was the end of our full day in Morocco and the end of a long tarmac day without much incident or story to tell not boring by any means just nothing of note to say to you. Some of the guys had dinner in the on site eatery whilst we got stuck into camp cooking. We had a few colder nights recently so preparing the bed was becoming all about layers and blankets, tomorrow would be colder as we head higher up to the Lake somewhere in the snow line, after that it would turn much warmer. I was up at dawn and eager to take some photos of the High Atlas in the growing sun, I walked to the camp gates and stood amazed at what stood before me. The Atlas Mountains at dawn in March…Wow!
Stuck there by friends on the last in 2014..The yellow triangle at the bottom see it? He also stuck one to the back of my truck
It seems to be the thing over here, sticking your sticker to 4×4 places of interest, a bit like a youth writing his name on the wall or a dog pissing up a tree…
I returned to camp and started up the petrol stove, it always starts with a bit of a whoosh! It’s an art to light up…pump the fuel container, open the valve, see and hear the hissing vapour start to spill out of the long pipe wait a second then shove a lighter into the vapour and WHOOSH! Hey fooking presto, a yellow flame about a foot long erupts, one has to pump again a dozen times to get the pressure back up, the wild yellow flame is replaced by a tight little blue flame… the longer it takes to ignite the bigger the whoosh and the taller the flame not something to fukc about with when one is half asleep of half cut! It scares the hell out of Julie and she flat refuses to light the bugger, can’t think why…. We have a quick easy gas canister thingy with us too which is simpler and easier, I just havent got it outa the box yet. Cook whist the wild yellow flame is present and your sure to blacken the pan, sometimes the flame lights is in the pipe you’ll know coz it starts to roar like a flame-thrower and not desirable, simply turn the fuel off for a few seconds then back on again. I get some bacon on and the kettle, in a few minutes the pan is sizzling and the comforting sizzle begins and the intoxicating smell gets even the laziest git outa bed. Bacon in the morning to me is simply the best camping food ever and if anyone asks, the bacon is really chicken OK? Julie by the way is not lazy but is quite happy to sip her tea in her pit whilst I do my thing, besides the kitchen is too small for two of us and its something I like to do.
After eating its time to visit the shower block and have a shower with faintly warm water, it can be a bit of a “hold your breath and dive under” moment sometimes but once your under its fine. Before you ask, when wild camping one resorts to wet wipes for the creases, of if you’re a bit of a southern softie and never been down a coal mine in your life you take a perforated plastic bag… Washing ones teeth signals the end of the tiresome but civilized ablutions and the tent is dropped, Julie by now has packed away the two camp beds and stuffed the sleeping bags into the “stuffi” sacks, the tent is dropped rolled up and put into its back in just a minute or two, its then is chucked onto the roof, I scramble up and fit the three straps and its done! I often sit on the roof and watch what everyone else is doing, breakfasting..washing..faffing around and stuff, we are falling into the packing stuff away groove and are ready for the days map read before rolling for 09.30. The map reading always seems to start on comic German. Pete points to the spot saying ” Ve are hierr and ze enamy are…it always makes me smile as it dies others to by the end of ze tour..I mean the tour. Joking aside its a very informative morning chat about whats happening today Imshalla!
I for one like to know where we are going, to copy the route for our own benefit and for the blog, this blog in fact. Today would be our first off-road driving of the tour and we were to be heading out to look at some old mines. and a large disused one at Aoul, some miles away from the road.