Sunday, October 24, 2010

Morocco 1

The border crossing to Morocco from Ceuta was pretty straight forward, although it already has an african feel to it. There are no clear signposts telling you where to go or what to do. You just follow the advise of one of the many unofficial looking people hanging around and go cris-cross from one booth to another. And before you know it your pasport is stamped and you're driving through something like the Moroccan edition of Knokke. Well paved boulevards, newky built complexes, depolution projects... Seems like the governement is trying to make a good impression. To some extent it does, but the image is just too perfect and it's clear that ver few maroccans actually live here.
Our first stop is Tetouan, with its UNESCO World Heritage medina. Our GPS map of Morocco apparently doesn't include city maps. Hmm now what. We think out loud (through the SRC commnication system), while sombody starts riding alongside Nicolaas. The now so famous sentences: Bonjour. Ca va? Français? - no, belge - Ah Belge... Tu viens d'ou? Ou est-ce que tu vas? etc etc... It comes in many variations on the theme but almost always ends with a local who wants to take you somewhere (restaurant, hotel, souvenir shop), or wants to provide some kind of service... in exchange for a small token of your gratitude of course... But since we have no ground plan and are a bit lazy today, we settle for a 'guided tour' of Tetouan. Then we set off for our first stop in Morocco, Chefchaouen. Again, finding a hotel and a safe place for the motorcycles to spend the night takes longer then we hoped for. In the end we park them at the parking lot before the Hotel Parador, where a night guard keeps an eye on them till morning (a trick we'll have to use from now on) and go for a very charming hotel with a real '1001 nights' feel to it. Next day we wander around a bit in the small, often blue alleys of the lovely medina till noon. Then it's off to Fez. But first we have to cross the Rif mountains, famous for it's Kif plantations (read marihuana). It seems like everybody is into the Kif business because we can't pass a single person without them making smoking signs and asking us to stop, flashing their headlights from cars parked at the roadside or simply shouting: "Hasjish?". The landscapes are like the atmosfere, grim and arid. We ride past them steadily and only stop for a quick lunch. But still we don't advance as well as we'd hoped. The tarmac is in bad condition and the bends are impredictable. Dusk is falling and we still haven't reached the end of our climb though the Rif. What to do? We both don't really feel like spending the night here, so after some carefull deliberation we decide to go on, at least till we reach the valley. What first seemed so difficult, got better after we found a ourselves a good rythms and a hare (in th form of a minivan) with good headlights to follow. By the way turns in the mountains aren't half as scary when you don't see the cliffs... Finally whe arrive in Fez, where we find ourselves a dirty pension, get ripped off by the parking guard and have fruit for dinner because of the unchristian (or is it unmuslim?) hour of arrival.

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