2. Morocco – Ferry to Tetouan

We all love a calm ferry ride and Barcelona to Tangiers did not disappoint. The last time Tom and I had crossed the straights of Gibraltar we had been on Shadowfax our 31 foot sailing boat which we had sailed home to London from Hong Kong 17 years ago. The pod of pilot whales that had circled around Shadowfax in the straits was sadly nowhere to be seen, but Jebel Musas rocky outcrop was. The African pillar of hercules and southern brother of the rock of Gibraltar (Jebel meaning mountain) welcomed us with the soft call of the Muezzin’s call to prayer. The ferry was rammed full of grossly overloaded dying cars with vast roof loads of predominantly old sinks, ladders and bicycles. The smell of burning clutches and boiling cooling water filled the air. Ironically we are yet to see such overloaded cars on Moroccan roads as presumably they would be stopped by the endless police checks. Its strange they are free to drive like that on European roads.

DSCN5969 (1)We bolstered ourselves for the onslaught of dodgy customs officials, aggressive touts and general hassle and harassment that Morocco is famed for. A nice Frenchman on the ferry with a wonderful curly, colonial moustache, said we could follow him through the port and if the worst came to the worst, he knew the chief of police – clearly we were not going to let this man and his fantastic contacts out of our sight. Though very reassuring, there was in fact no need for contacts or hand-holding as entry into Africa was almost efficient, friendly and devoid of any hassle and harassment. The slightly overweight officials were far more interested in chasing (waddling) after the young, athletic men who were climbing over the vast 20 foot perimeter fence with impunity in an effort to get to Europe. The guards chassed them fruitlessly amongst the cars and we must have seen 40 over the fence under the noses of the police in the time we were waiting for our stamps but where they went from there remains a mystery.

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The road to Tetouan had dozens of police checkpoints along it, all there to hinder the flow of migrants towards Europe and there were hundreds along the road. We were stopped only once by a laughing policeman at the bottom of a very large hill who wanted to know where on earth we had found our ancient car as the smoke from our red hot brakes swirled around him.

DSCN5989We arrived at Tetouan just as it was going dark with no idea how on earth we would find our hotel in the maze of streets that make up the medieval medina. Walled medina’s have evolved over hundreds of years to be totally impregnable as they are an impossible labyrinth to anyone who was not born there. As Tom stayed with the car, the kids and I set off through the ancient gate into the warren of streets. Luckily we found a Moroccan who kindly said he would show us ‘Riad Dalia’ as it was next door to his house. I tried to remember every time we turned right or left to be able to find our way back to Tom but it was hopeless. DSCN5990I was well aware that an unusually white woman and her two fair children wandering about an unknown medina at dusk, being led by a Moroccan saying ‘follow me, don’t trust anyone else’ was not and ideal scenario. It would be something I would strongly advise people not to do in my travel security briefings! Our guide stopped in at his house to drop his shopping off and invited us in to see his home. The metal studded door swung open off the tiny street to reveal a wonderful interior of key-hole arches, intricate Arab plasterwork and exquisite tiling. Every alcove housed opulent cushions and sofa’s and made you immediately want to recline and drink mint tea with a sultan.

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M’hamad explained how his family were originally from Andalusia and had moved here 80, no sorry, 800 years ago. As Petra rightly pointed out, how wonderful to know where your family were from that long ago.

DSCN6006After much more twisty turneyness, we found the lovely Riad Dhalia and then the charming M’hamad kindly led us back to Tom and then all the way back again to the hotel. – what a nice man.

Though not as sumptuous as M’hamad’s amazing home, our hotel bedroom was most palatial and even came with an excellent outfit for Petra to waft about in – whoop whoop whoop! We love Morocco!

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Though not as sumptuous as M’hamad’s amazing home, our hotel bedroom was most palatial and even came with an excellent outfit for Petra to waft about in – whoop whoop whoop! We love Morocco!

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Comments on “2. Morocco – Ferry to Tetouan

  1. It is all looking great! I love following. I left Georgia and am now in Erbil. You should come this way next time [😊]

    Mat Whatley

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  2. Tom, Worm, I was thinking of Shadowfax earlier today as I took an early morning walk in Hong Kong. I wondered where you had worked on her to get ready for the trip.

    Wishing you fair winds once again. D x

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  3. Loving your tales already. The ferry with the piled high vans is because the Spanish banish all the Moroccan work force to go back for a month year. That line is continuous all summer as each individual family makes the trip home. I guess it is something to prevent them becoming Spanish citizens, anyway it has been going on for years, I saw it regularly in the ’80’s so no change there! Hugs xxxx

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  4. Well done all of you. We now look forward to hearing about the borrowed house! Just dropped J off with M&L at Gretna, and now camped beside the Nith in Dumfrieshire for the night. Caerlaverock in the morning. P&Wxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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Justine Oliver - Security and travel advice

Justine Oliver is a travel and security consultant and freelance writer

Retro Road Trip, Adventures in a Series 1 Land Rover

A family in a Series 1, 1957 Land Rover exploring from Europe to Iran and back

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