7 August 2006: The morning freshness as well as the anxiety for the today’s day made me to wake up before even the alarm rings. I get up, check if the motorcycles are in their position and start packing. The time is already 09:00am and we have to be at the port until 09:30am since the ship leaves at 10:00am. I have not still understood why tourists do not prefer the Ceuta’s port. The person in the ticket office told us that the passport control takes place on the ship. Maybe we will have a delay at the Spain – Morocco Borders since Ceuta belongs to Spain.
At 10o’ clock we found ourselves outside the ships door. Fortunately, our information for long delays at Algeciras port did not came true. I do not think that has to do with the period since we are in a full season.
We put our motorcycles in the catamaran and after someone tight then up we took the stairs to the deck. Everything that I have heard about Morocco makes me sceptical and pondering. As we start I see a threat that we had not face until now, the possibility of rain. I saw heavy weather at the Seville and Tanger side since this morning. We did not want this to happen in our first time in Africa. We pass next to Gibraltar which belongs to England. We watch the sharp and tall rock on which, rests the small city of Gibraltar. Above it, there is a cloud which makes the scene magnificent. The wind is so strong that makes our ship to waver hard.
Having travel 30-40min we can see the Ceuta port from the deck. Having the images of Algeciras port in my mind I was expecting to see a worse condition. But what I saw gave me the courage to do the trip. As the ship entered the port we went below to take our motorcycles. We disembark from the ship and follow the signs to Marruecos which lead to the Morocco borders. Our route inside the city makes me anxious while wakes my interest for the unknown and adventure. The traffic signs are not so good but they exist. After a while we reach the borders. There are many people, cars and pedestrians there. Women with baggage pass the border while at a rock next to the guardhouse people are passing free without any control. A policeman gives us a 3 page form that we have to fill in with information about our machine and showed us the route which we have to take as EU citizens.
We stop at the checking point to fill the form. There a “self-proclaimed” guide offered his help. I thank him and tell him that we do not want his help. We fill the form and I ask a policeman if they are correct. Actually, I make a mistake but it wasn’t important. We continue and another policeman tells us to park our machines in front of the building so as to watch them. As we give the forms the employee tells us that we have to stamp our passports. Ploumisti goes to stamp them. As I am alone the “self-proclaimed” guide comes back and asks me why we delay and I tell him that we have to stamp our passports. I tell him that we have heard a lot about fake guides that make us suspicious. Anyway, he gives me 2 forms to fill and leaves the scene. We sit and wait for our stamps and after that we go to the kiosk concerning vehicles. After we finish from there we go to the baggage control. The employee there asks us if we have anything to declare and from where we are coming from. He was impressed with our story and he asked us where we want to go. We asked him many questions about the route and he replied with the best information. We end our conversation with the question if it is a safe route and he replied with an ambiguous way, “You are in Morocco!!!”
We start our travel while the time is 13:30pm. Now I realize why most of the people choose the port of Taggeri. It has less delay since all the above procedures happen on the ship. In addition, if you do not have transportation it is impossible to find transportation except taxis but you have to wait until 6 people enter in it and then depart for your destination. Outside the guard house 3 things impressed me, the amount of people which wander to any direction, the amount of policeman and the amount of flags. We start our travel on the African ground. We follow the signs to Tetouan. On the route we find many cyclical nodes with policemen. The road is wide enough but not in a good condition. There are points where people cross the road. There are no protection bars. Later I meet a motorcycle policeman who waves me; I pass in front of him to see my board sign and he leaves with high speed. At our left there is a long beach with many hotels. At our right there are some houses while at the background the cloud that I saw earlier is still there.
We decide that we have to stop at Tetouan for currency exchange. As we reach outside Tetouan at the node which leads from one side to the centre and from the other side to Martil we turn right. The traffic for the centre is high and the drivers drive crazy. You have to be careful not to have an accident. We find a bank and Ploumisti exchanged 100euros (1euros = 10,839 Dirham (MAD). After that we go out again to the circuital road of the town and we reach the node to Chefchaouen. The road is very bad and narrow. There are many turnings but less traffic. At the beginning of the route we meet some olive-oil trees while at our left we see Atlas Mountain the top of which is covered by a cloud. The temperature is very high but we find some points with pine trees and cool our selves as we pass under their shadow.
At these points we meet some guys which appear suddenly in the middle of the road and wave to us to stop. They hold a small package to their hand. In the beginning I thought it is a local product that is produced in the area by the shepherds since there are herds with goats all over the place. But I realized that it is about another local “product” called hashish or weed. We enjoy the route and we pass through villages with nothing especially to see but they give you the situation that exists in the country. In many of them you can see wells for drinking water, children to play around and men to sit under the tree shadows. We decide to make a stop at the Loukos village so as to drink something. At the middle of the village we find a store and we buy 1 small still water, coffee, lemonade and sugar. All these cost 1euro. The country side is cheap but let’s wait to see what happens to the town. After a few minutes stop we continue to Quazzane. The scene is full in flora and small rivers. We decide to fill our tanks with benzene after this town. We cannot see the town although they told us that it is beautiful, since we are very tired and we want to reach at Fes.
After a few km and while we have 100km more for Fes we decide to stop to a village to fill our tanks with benzene. We stop at a gas station and we realize that they do not have unleaded benzene but only super and petroleum. The guy told me that there is no problem if we put super. I asked him where we can find unleaded and he replies at Fes. I have not enough benzene to reach Fes. Another guy there tells me that a new gas station has opened further down the road. So we decide to go there, where we find many busses with tourists. At the pumps we ask the guy if he has unleaded and he replies yes although super it is written on the pump. Anyway since we had to fill our motorcycles we fill our tanks with super.
The road now has fewer floras. Every now and then we meet olive oil trees. They are smaller in height than the Greek ones. On our route we see some taxis. All of them are Mercedes and full with people. And when I say full I mean it. They are full with 6 to 7 people. Later on I see something crazier. I see a small van in front of me and as I go close enough I can see from its rear window a cow’s ass. Next to her I see 2 people sitting each one on a ball made of straw.
After a while we reach Meknes node and we follow the signs to Fes. The road is very bad and makes our driving difficult and makes us also tired. Anyway it is only 15km to Fes so we keep driving. Maybe we shouldn’t travel at high noon since it is more tiresome. Anyway, we have booked a room in Fes so we are going to rest there.
Finally we reach at the town at 19:00. We try to find the bus station and suddenly a guy on a motorcycle appears who is willing to help us. Actually I decided not to be as suspicious as at the border and we follow him to the hotel. Few meters before the hotel he stops and tell us that his is a ministerial guide and that he want to book us a rendezvous for the next day. We try to avoid him and he shows to us his card which was not the same with the one that the guy in the borders showed us. He asks 120 dirham for the conducted tour. Anyway we tell him to leave us his phone to call him tomorrow since we did not know our schedule for tomorrow.
We park outside the hotel Ibis Moussafir 3* (Avenue des Almohades -Place de la Gare). For the EU citizens it is not so expensive but for the locals it is. The room costs 40euros/double room. We decide to unpack our motorcycles each one at a time and then park them at the parking. As I was waiting there, 2 guys come and want to be our guides. I told them no and that I have friends here in order to avoid them. After we put our stuff in the room we decide to go to the pool to have a coffee and relax. Our idea to go out from the hotel to eat soon was abandoned since we are very tired. So we decide to eat in the hotel.
The today’s day started with a lot of anxiety but had ended well. Everything went fine and the circumstances are not as difficult as I though them to be. Our first impressions are positive. We decide to try and spend our time here flabbily so as to save our strengths for Portugal. I thought that it is better to see the Medina of these 2 cities (Fes – Marrakech) and maybe to do some one day travel to Marrakech and return to Ceuta thought Rabat.