Friendly Morocco

It’s 5 am when we start queuing up to embark the ferry from Spain to Morocco. We drunk our last European beers here yesterday and I use the waiting time to update our social media channels for the last time on the European network. From now on it’s finally time for the continent we came to see. In a few hours we will arrive in the roughest continent off them all: Africa!

Before driving onto African soil we needed a visa stamp on the ship. We quickly had to come up with a Moroccan address and other stuff we hadn’t prepared for, which made the procedure take a little longer than expected. As we ran downstairs we noticed that Touki was holding up the entire line to disembark the vessel. We jump in and hit the throttle. Sorry to our fellow travelers, but first visa stamp is in the books and we are officially in Africa!

The Moroccan country side is surprisingly lush and green and as we drive on, the small green hills pass us by. We take a first stop in Tangier to get some Moroccan Dirhams, which are about 10 DH for €1.

On moments like this we realise how nice the European system is. We can cross every country without having to stop at borders or police check-points while using the same currency everywhere. What a concept that is.

We leave the dusty roads and the bustle of our first African city we come across. As every new country, the first day still takes some adapting. Especially the busy North-African cities can be a little overwhelming at first. After Tangier we pass through the capital Rabat as we head for Casablanca. We are aiming for a camp site just south of the city, which seemed like an easy drive. But then, ‘the Casablanca catastrophe’ happened. Long story short; Touki is not a city car. For some reason she doesn’t handle traffic jams that good. Especially if they take more than an hour and when the general driving style could best be described as ‘African’. I’m having the biggest trouble keeping her alive as the stress level rises inside the car.

With Touki not starting properly after the engine cuts off every hundred meter, we end up breaking down completely on a busy cross road. We stranded on the pedestrian crossing, so people immediately push us aside while others gave Touki a gentle high five. By now, we’ve already noticed Moroccans are very friendly and helpful. But here as well, help is offered within a minute. We decide to just let the engine cool off again and continue our route.

Just before sun down, we finally reach a campsite. Heavy first day, but what did we expect? A fun evening followed with Keko, he is a 51-year old Mexican living in the US who is also driving south through Africa. He just noticed he overstayed his visa as it took him 3 full months to get as far south as we did in only one day. He likes to live life easy, and who can blame him. Also that’s not the only reason he’s not making a lot of miles. His deep and prominent love for Moroccan hasj is probably the main reason why he’s been hanging around here for that long. We have some good conversations about life and share our travel stories. It’s always cool to meet legends like Keko on the road.

On day two in Morocco we get where we wanted to go: Kauki Beach, just south of Essaouira. Finally some surfing! After a couple of days and some surfing first sessions done, we head south to the beautiful town of Imsouane. It’s a small surf town in between the big cities of Essaouira and Agadir, a true surfer’s paradise. Since we’re still absolute beginners, we enjoy every wave we ride. The addictive side of surfing really gets to me after a while. Even after falling most of the time, a good wave makes you crave for the next one.

By now, we already did our wrenching part on Touki. She’s using oil like hell, bails on us in city traffic and the right front bearing makes turning on the radio a wasted effort. The sound becomes unbearable. Meanwhile, the oil had completely clutted one of the sparkplugs, which made the engine only turned on three of four cylinders and our exhaust had holes making it sound like a fierce racing machine (which is not always a true representation).

In the sand of the Imsouane camp site, we take a look at the bearing after taking half of the front suspension of. Turns out we bought the wrong type in Essaouira to replace them. Here we were: wrenching in the sand, sun going down and wasted about three hours to get to a status quo. Living a blessed life, as always… But as most of the times, the bad moments don’t last that long. First of all, Erika cooked up the best pasta pesto of our lives. And second of all: we got some youngsters to help us out.

Next to us a Dutch family was camping with three young kids. Their plan is to make a two-year journey while living in their van and surf and learn on the road. The eldest two, about 10 and 12, help us out by holding our flashlights as it got dark. We try to fit everything back into place, which means a lot of tearing and pulling on the old metal. We would usually be swearing a lot because of the defeat of the day and the stupid job we did. But the presence of the kids kept us in line. Them being there really lifted our spirits in a way. Their unlimited curiosity (why you do this, why you do that?) was a joy to see. I could only think of how much more they must be learning compared to other kids their age who are sitting packed together in dusty class rooms listening to stuff they don’t care about at all.

After surfing in Imsouane we head to Agadir, the last city of Morocco. All of Touki’s issues get fixed here with help from the exceptional mechanic called Mouhammed. Just the oil problems lasts as every mechanic claims “there is no problem with the engine”. The oil usage says otherwise, but by African rules it still runs so there is no problem. It becomes a bit frustrating that we’re not sure what the exact problem is, so cutting her open without knowing for sure we’ll fix her up properly is not something we want to do.

Agadir is the last city in Morocoo, and the place where we say goodbye to our adventure chick Erika. She will be taking the bus directly to Dakhla, a big city in the south of the Western Sahara. Slow but steady we head the same direction with Touki. It is nice to be driving the perfect tarmac road in between the dry lands of southern Morocco that fluently flows over into the Western Sahara. We are officially in the desert.

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