For a detailed trip itinerary, click here or for more info on the company that runs it (African Trails) visit:

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Monday, 5 April 2010

Moore on Morocco: Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Merzougha, Sahara & Essaouira and now in Mauritania too!

Ok folks, as you can probably tell by the lack of regular updates, internet access hasn't been as frequent or as easy as we might have (foolishly) expected. The net cafes are few and far between and when we do get to them, the connection is slow, the computers are grimy (one had some kind of pie all over the keys), the keys are arranged in a different order ( it being an Arabic country n’ all!) and when we do get a decent connection, our (my) account gets a virus which sends out emails about erectile dysfuction to everybody on my contact list (sorry ma and pa!). With that in mind we bought ourselves a tiny wee laptop at one of the MarJanes (massive supermarkets) in Marrakech…the keys are still in Arabic order so be patient with our spelling! Given the slow connections, photo uploads may be few and far between…

Right now, Lara, me, and a couple of our new travel buddies (Sonya the Kiwi and Ian the Canuck) are sitting in a random restaurant in Nouadhibou (not sure of spelling) in Mauritania…it’s an Islamic state and is pretty much like the wild west here….desolate, barren, sandy as fook and with an overbearing feeling of paranoia (we’ve been told to look out for bandits following kidnappings of some Frenchies doing the Dakar rally in recent times)…after crossing through no man’s land after the Morrocan border we passed through numerous landmine warning signposts! We’ve been told not to stray too far from the truck with the shovel and toilet roll…if you know what I mean?…our Japanese friend told us he understood these instrcutions with the simple words “not much food so only do little toilet”.

Despite all this, we’ve somehow found a quiet wee café with free wifi so we’re using the opportunity to catch up….on a veeery slooooooooooooooooooz connection.

So, 1 country down and 29 to go. 9 months left…Morocco was amazing…

Marrakech (touristy but with its charms), Casablanca (underwhelming…we definitely won’t be hearing Sam play it again), Rabat – where we spent most of the time chilling in the car park of an aforementioned MarJane as we waited for our visas for Mauritania, Mali and Ghana to come through at the respective embassies.

The Marjane - where we spent many hours in the car park

There was a very cool casbah in Rabat though…

The casbah at Rabat

From there we went to Meknes and Fes – I got lost in the medinah in the former and the latter was pretty incredible…a massive labyrinth of markets and tanneries and traditional Berber shops…we only had a day and a half there but we could have explored the place for weeks…very easy to get lost in it. Fes is highly recommended to anybody wanting to see the Morocco as it should be (or at least how it’s depicted in the movies).

The tanneries in Fes

We then passed the High Atlas mountains and froze our delicate bits off at the the foot of snowcapped mountains…mere days later, we camel-trekked in blazing heat from a place called Merzougha into the middle of the desert where we kipped in a traditional Berber tent…I couldn’t
eat any of the tasty looking chicken tagine they prepared for us as I’d loaded up on Berber pizza earlier on that day. Stuffed!

Our mate Dave  (aka "Lawrence of A-Dave-ia" aka Mark from Dewsbury, England) with his turban prior to our camel trek.

My homeboy Kyle (from Cape Town, SA) at the back of our caravan. This guy's younger than my Brother Moses and on the trip for the whole 10months!

LBM finds time to do some desert yoga

From there, we passed through Marrakech again, spending one night at 'Hotel Imouzzer' (74, Rue Sidi Boulooukate) rather than at an out of town campsite again. From there we had some long driving days before reaching Essaouira on the coast…I’d been there once before 6 years ago but then I didn’t see more than the toilet door for three days (ironically, thanks to a tagine I’d eaten on a camel trek in the desert…maybe I ducked a punch this time around?). Essaouira was an awesome place and Lara and I managed some swimmming and body-surfing with a few of our new friends whilst the camels on the beach just watched in aloof indifference.

We started getting into the place and really enjoying the sun, we parked the truck up in a caravan car park right next to the beach and pithced our tents on a dune just over the top of the car park on the beach side. We lit our firem cooked oour grub, had an ‘Especial’ (local beer) or two then went to bed in the dunes at about 10pm. Luckily (!) I have a bladder like a sieve and at 3am I woke up to go for a jimmy riddle…when I went to unzip the flysheet, I noticed it was already partly unzipped, then I looked for my day bag which had been by the door…it didn’t have anything important in it (fifty quid in various currencies, toileteries, torch, penknives, batteries) but it was gone all the same. I woke Lara and hers was gone too…unfortunately hers had her ipods (one broken, one new replacement bought in a MarJane), camera, Ray Bans, passport, bank cards and prescription specs in (amongts other things)…I legged it to the truck to tell our driver and Lara roused the others.

It turns out that the groundsheets of four of our tents had been slashed open but only two tents had things stolen from them (ours and an American family lost their orthopaedic trekking boots and sleeping bag liners). The mothertruckers had opened the flysheet to reach my bag but actually slashed the tent to get Lara’s bag…scarily, Lara's bag was by her head and the slash was at her feet…they’d have had to creep right in whilst we both slept!

Camped on the dunes in Essaouira, prior to The Night of the Tent Slasher

Lara looking unhappy the next morning

Brings a whole new meaning to getting up in the middle of the night to take a slash

As we scoured the area looking for clues, or ther thieves, or any of our stuff, we miraculously found Lara’s passport (with visas) and her bank cards in a bush…we also found my toileteries but they were unuabale as the thief had had the time to take a dump on them as we slept…bar-steward! The next day at the police HQ was interesting to say the least…but I’ll leave that to our next entry.


1 comment:

  1. What an adventure it sounds amazing! So gutted to hear about the thieving but at least you are all unharmed. I know you are nearing Ghana or may already be there and I just wanted to say I am soo jealous it is a special place I hope you have a great time there I did...make sure you report back!