MOROCCO - HIGH MOUNTAINS, DRY DESERTS AND THE SEA
Is it save to go there now? Is there no war and what about the refugees? These and other concerns had many people when we told them that we plan a trip to Morocco with our expedition mobile. To be up front about it, Morocco is a safe country and we always felt welcome!
However, we want to start right at the beginning: when we arrived at the port of Livorno, we were actually six hours to early. Thanks to the vehicles with enormous roof loading we found the check-in counter easily.
Unfortunately only on our schedule, we were too early! They told us frantically that we are almost the last ones and have to hurry up now. The Italian shipping company just decided to leave the harbor six hours earlier as announced without informing us. So far so good, thanks to our over punctuality, we just make it on the boat and set off in the direction of Tangier. After two days with lousy canteen food, lots of sleep and some boredom, we were excited to arrive at the African continent.
What we already realized on the ferry with its exotic passengers was now a fact: we left Europe behind us and our Morocco adventure started right now. The traffic in Tangier is immense and the streets sometimes very narrow and so we are happy to leave the city without a bump in our car in direction Atlas Mountains. On the way, we visited the royal cities of Fès and Meknes. The souks in these ancient metropolises are confusing. We lost ourselves in the narrow streets and were drifting. Unfamiliar smells were everywhere. Sometimes pleasant from oriental spices like amber or essential oils and terrible close to the tanneries. Somehow, we finally found our car again and continued the road in direction to the mountains.
OVER THE MOUNTAINS
On tight and bumpy trails, we snake over a nearly 3000 m high pass into the Atlas and on the other side on an even worse roads and through even more narrow gorges down again. The ride is exhausting, but the great views over the mountains is worth the trouble. We feel so free in the mountains and far away from the hectic life, we have at home.
The people here are poor and we are glad that we collected at home bags full with old clothes to distribute here. Sometimes the women even fight for the best pieces and we regret not having enough for everyone. Shoes are defective here. Many do not have anything at their feet and still go many kilometers over the stony and thorny ground every day. Once again, we realize in what a luxurious situation we live back home. Our vehicle manages all the slopes without any problems. After a long drive through the mountains, we find a cozy place in a dried-up creek bed in an impressive gorge. We have been told that the river had no water for the last four years and so we decided to stay overnight. As soon as it became dark rain was starting. It is clear to us that it is not enough to resuscitate the stream after such a long time, but the rain always makes small stones faling down. According to our detailed flight calculations, this bolder would fall directly on our roof. At four o’clock in the morning, we cannot sleep anymore and drive our home in the darkness to a more save place. Of course, the big stone was still there the next morning where he was already the last 1000 years and probably will be for the next 1000 years.
Because of the rain, we decide to leave the mountains and heading towards the desert. There will most likely be no rain we thought. That was wrong! It was even raining in the desert, and when the sun was back, a terrible wind started. This swirls up the sand what was so bad that we almost wished the rain back. The sand made the breathing difficult, burned in the eyes and clouded the visibility.
We were patiently waiting for the desert journey from M’hamid to Foum-Zguid until the sand storm has settled. Two days later, we were heading towards Erg Chegaga. Many lanes were gone thanks to the storm and we had to stick to the GPS track to avoid being lost in the desert. Next to us, a Spaniard derived his jeep. From 11 o’clock, he started to sip Spanish red wine from a leather hose. Anyway, he was still driving with a lot of swing over the sand drifts. We also had no severe problems and relaxed in the evening outdoors on a campfire.
Unfortunately, time flies and we had to return to Tangier to catch our ferry. On the way back along the wild coast we enjoyed the pleasant sea climate, visited sleepy fishing villages with their whitewashed houses and stopped in Casablanca for visit at the Hassan II mosque with the highest minaret in the world.
To fast we found ourselves back on the ferry and some days later in Switzerland again. We are already looking forward to the next adventure and hope that the time will pass by quickly. Morocco remains in our best memories as a country with imposing and varied landscapes and friendly people. We especially liked the nights in the wilderness, somewhere in the nowhere under the clear night sky. We had space to breathe and be free – Africa, we’ll be back.