Friday, 21 February 2014

Sketches of Morocco

We have been here 7 days and travelled from Tangier to Marrakech via Casablanca , and the weather is finally wonderful although cold overnight, dropping to around 4°
There are literally thousands of motorhomes over here, and the travellers talk much of overflowing campsites, the quality of which is best described as basic.
Our first stop was Cap Spartel, just south of Tangier.......
we only have one working satnav  since neither Ken nor I wanted to buy Moroccan maps at £45 and Malc already had one from his last visit. So we are following Malc and his satnav  took us through the centre of Tangier at 5 pm on a Friday including circumnavigating the roundabout outside the main mosque just in time for prayers. Roundabouts here use priority à droit supposedly and traffic on the roundabout gives way to traffic reality it's a free for all and nobody gives an inch.. Pedal to the metal and hand on horn. I thought the arc de triomphe was scary but this was a nightmare.....3 vans in convoy trying not to lose sight of each other.....
But we survived. First impressions however were of poverty. Shanty towns, donkey carts, people walking everywhere and looking for lifts, street sellers at traffic lights quite aggressive at times.
First campsite had nice entrance and cafe but scrubby pitches and iffy electrics but that has become the norm, although sites are relatively cheap..about £6 a night.
Rain overnight  and visited local grotto of Hercules on the beach about 100 yds from camp next morning before heading south to Moulay Bousselham where we stopped 2 nights at scenic site at lagoon with entrance to sea. Hawkers on site selling crabs,clams,fish,strawberries, vegetables.. Village above on headland very poor with our first souk  selling everything from live chickens, eels to carpets and secondhand shoes. Area famous for bird life on lagoon and plenty of offers from boatmen on camp shoreline to take us out to see flamingoes but we've seen them already. Very iffy electrics.
On Monday moved to Mohammedia, 40km north of Casablanca and very neglected and poor.
On Tuesday hired taxi for 900 MD  (£70) to take the 6 of us to Casablanca and show us the sights. Good value as we got a commentary as he drove us around the city, visited the 3 rd largest mosque in the world and the largest one open to non Muslims. Cost £9 each to visit with guide but very impressive. Our first mint tea on the Corniche which I have now adopted. Lunch in a cafe our taxi guy recommended was Moroccan and interesting despite lack of alcohol.
I talked the others out of finding Rick's Bar and we settled for the Medina and souk before tiring of the constant plague of street sellers like flies and returning to site. Casablanca is ok if you want to see the mosque otherwise don't bother.... Smart tram system though.
On Wednesday headed to Marrakech, Crosby Stills & Nash on the stereo. ............
All of a sudden the terrain changed, the land become hilly and red, snowcapped mountains appeared in the  distance and seemed,through a trick of the light, to be floating in the sky and we passed villages of red mud with women washing at the well. It felt as though we had arrived in a different country and this was really Morocco, not a throwback to French colonialism.
Camp site on edge of town is packed and slightly better kept, and supplies its own minibuses into town which we did on Thursday. Magical place and everything the guidebooks say.
Main square is alive with snake charmers, tattooists, acrobats, food and drink sellers and a maelstrom of people, carts,animals,taxis,horse carts,tuktuks. We settled for tea on the rooftop terrace of a cafe overlooking all this and could have stayed there all day. Had lunch at a cafe, then Ken negotiated a tour of the Medina by horse drawn carriage for the princely sum of 100 MD (£7.75) per have to haggle for everything, just like in Life of Brian......which took well over an hour and excellent value with running commentary in French which I have to translate......French is definitely the language over Arabic and is understandable, not pidgin.
Camp taxi back via supermarket. Alcohol on sale but expensive. Bought some morrocan wine £ 3 a this space.
Going into town tonight to see sunset & the square by night

1 comment:

  1. All sounds jolly good fun, can't wait to read the review of Moroccan wine...