I went straight to Tangier med, the ferry port, this morning; only stopping for fuel and to buy a ticket at one of the service station sales booths.
I arrived may after 12 and checked in for the 2pm sailing with FRS to Algeciras in Spain.
The rear tyre is down to about 2mm of tread at it’s centre which is close to the UK legal minimum of 1mm. Also the steering head bearing has got worse.
I decided to go to Agadir in the morning because I found two motorcycle companies on the Internet that may be able to help.
Well I did these things:
1. Woke up in a tent on a warm sandy beach.
2. Rode my motorbike through the Sahara desert
3. Crossed the tropic of cancer
4. Exited Morocco and braved their customs
5. Crossed no mans land, a 3km stretch of wasteland between the borders littered with discarded vehicles and surrounded by land mines.
Last night somebody on the HUBB confirmed that the Mauritanian visa was available at the border. I have decided to go for it. If the information is right it saves me three days in Rabat, if the information is wrong I will have three days travel down there plus three days to travel back to Rabat plus another three days to travel down again. 9 days! I have heard from several sources so i think the risk is worth it. All this because of a puncture!
Today started very well with the best cup of tea I have had since leaving the UK and a tasty pancake breakfast courtesy of Bob and Ellie. Thank you for giving me a good start to the day and for your donation to Street Child.
I took my time getting packed and ready to go this morning. This was my first night camping and it was an opportunity for me to rearrange things in a logical way. By 10.30 I was on my way to Algeciras and the ferry.
At every service station or layby along the road was a little tiny booth with massive signs advertising tickets to tangiers. At first I ignored them thinking i wanted official tickets not fake ones. As I got closer to town even the official road signs proclaimed tickets at the next junction. I succumbed to less than subliminal advertising, stopped, and bought one..
Mine said my ferry left for Tangier med at 2pm. I need not have been so suspicious of being ripped off.
I was at the terminal with loads of time to spare, the waiting area slowly filled with cars. And then, one by one, they started turning around, getting others to move out of their way, and driving off. 2pm came and went and a Spanish lady on a Ducati with her partner approached me and explained the port of Tangier med was closed and if i came back at 4.30 to the Cuetos terminal the ticket would let me on a ferry there. Great… where’s Cuetos?
It turns out it is Spanish held terratory along the coast from Tangier. Slight change of plan but nothing serious, I would however use Expedia to book a hotel there due to the time. I found an Ibis advertising for about 30 euros, bargain! I tried to book but the transaction failed. I put the address in my satnav anyway.
On landing it was getting late and I was getting tired. I followed the sat nav but suddenly the border post was in front of me! Eeek! What do I do? I had not seen any decent hotels so far and the area looked decidedly unhealthy as a place to stop and ask. Ok, let’s go for it…
Even before the first roundabout I was approached by a man wanting to speak to me, He dodged out of my way just in time, I have been warned about fixers! ! They help you through the borders for a fee. I can manage on my own thank you! The next guy approached me had a semi official tourist board id around his neck. I could have made that, I thought.
He asked me if i had the green import form for the bike! Christ! I forgot about that! I was supposed to get it on the Tangier ferry which lands in Morocco, my ferry landed in Spainish territory! Panic! What should I do? Ok, I had been told in these situations, play the dumb tourist. Not hard seeing I was the dumb tourist!
My friendly guy just happened to have the form and guided me around getting things done. . I was suspicious as hell and made it obvious to him I was not going to pay him. After the customs checked my now completed papers My friendly guy.explained he would show me a good safe hotel with a garage for the bike and then show me around the town. OK suspicions confirmed, alarms ringing, I decided to confront him. . How much was he going to charge for these services? He eventually said 35 euros. I surpassed myself at how quickly I agreed but the whole area did not feel safe and I did not fancy my chances of finding somewhere after the border, I followed him in a taxi, to the main town. I was expecting a short journey bit no, we went for many kilometers along a motorway, we went through police road checks and a toll booth where the fixer paid for me as well. Now this is where we all expect me to be led up a dark alley and be mugged, I was thinking this as well. But…
The garage is fine, the hotel cheap and reasonably clean, he gave me a walking tour of the old town and market, found me something to eat that was cooked on a BBQ right in front of me, and then returned me safely to my hotel. I was so grateful, and not having change, I have him 40 instead of the 35 he asked for.
So once again sir (he did tell me his name but I was too tense to remember it) I must apologise for doubting you and I am grateful for your help. For the second time today I need not have been so suspicious of being ripped off.
Tomorrow I plan to travel to Rabat where I need to get some visas via a blue town. …
The bike needed a bit of maintenance this morning. The oil level was getting a little low as was the coolant; this is normal. Also one of the headlight bulbs had blown taking out the fuse with it: all easily fixed with the spares I am carrying.
The ride was fantastic, especially the beginning through very deep valleys with Farm covered slopes reaching up to near the summits. Through the day the land got flatter until I reached the Atlantic Coast where there were miles of flat plains.
What did I learn today about Morocco? The mule is the main source of transport (people and goods) for many people. In the hills it is mainly subsistance farming. Old Mercedes cars never die, they retire in Morocco.
I am sat by my tent looking up at the stars and listening to the beautiful sounds of the call to prayer at the local mosque.
Tomorrow I have been invited to breakfast with Ellie and Bob, two well seasoned brit travellers who Bob says are on the run from the old Bill. They seem a really nice couple and real Yorkshire tea and pancakes cannot be refused. Later I go into Rabat to get some visas.
Yesterday’s blog and photos to follow when I can find a Wifi hotspot.