Back to Imsouane then on to Safi
Sunday 21st March
Headed down from the campsite and parked on a bit of land just on the coast, outside of Tagazoute, which used to be a campsite. Motorhomes still gather and park up, but now for free. Although every once in a while the police will come along and move everyone off. We were planning to stay there for the evening, to save some money and have a free night.
At the spot we bumped back into Stan and Barbara, in their old library bus converted motorhome. They told us they had been stopping here for a week or so, but in the last few nights there had been a couple of motorhomes which had items pinched from them at night. Apparently in both cases the motorhomes had been left unlocked at night while they went to see friends in another motorhome. This though was enough to put Lorna off staying here. For the day though we sat and baked in the sun by the sea. Later we headed back to the campsite, there we got out our tagine set and cooked our first tagine. It didn’t turn out that great though, we will need to work on that, practise makes perfect and all. Also we didn’t really know how to cook one!
Monday 22nd March
Decided to get on and head back into Morocco, to see more of this beautiful country. We planned on the Draa Valley and then on to the Sahara dunes. First of all we needed to sort a couple of things out, the kitchen tap had stopped working last night and some liquid for the cassette toilet was required! On top of this the windscreen seal needed refitting, so we would have to take it back to the garage in Agadir. The window wasn’t sitting properly, due to one corner of the frame being out of place since the impact of the crash. The garage resealed the windscreen and added some strong silicon rubber seal to the one corner to hold it in place. This still, we were told was a temporary fix until we could get the front body work put back in shape. Although it would be most likely we would need a replacement front part! We might be able to find a second hand one in Germany, but at what cost? For the present moment and foreseeable future we would have to see how this temporary job did. We then headed around Agadir and the few motorhome places in search of a tap and toilet liquid. The latter we really should have stocked up on before departing for Morocco, as we hadn’t really seen much of it about! Still all a learning curve I suppose this life. After heading back up the coast we found a comprehensive motorhome parts garage next to a very big campground. The type of place people come to and don’t really leave the walls of the campground! Not the sort of campsite we particularly had any interest in. Anyway, we found a tap and got fitted a solution to the problem of our kitchen light not working. They simply wired up a small bulb, so at least we had some light, as the light unit had apparently had it! The toilet liquid on the other hand they were out of stock of, but should have some in a couple of days. We would really have to wait for this, as the trip we had planned would be too long for what remained of the bottle we had, that is none! Still it was by now already late in the day and there are much worse places to wait. We headed back and parked up again in the free parking beside the beach, before Tagazoute.
We had seemed to have done a lot of waiting in our Moroccan trip and there was still so much more of the country we wanted to see. There was also so much of Eastern Europe we wanted to see and only so many months in summer. Come October we had to head back to the UK to get our MOT for Hymer. Also we had to get across Spain, France and Italy to get there, any of those would also be worth a look around. Still the sun was shinning and it was hot next to the beach where we were. Also we were becoming rather found of Morocco. Later in the day, going through some paperwork I realised that our green card for the motorhome in Morocco, would expire on the 1st of April. So we would either have to get it renewed or head back! For now though we enjoyed the sun.
Tuesday 23rd March
Woke up and decided we would leave morocco when our green card expired. We really needed to continue our journey, there was a lot we had planned on seeing this year. Although at present we really just wanted to stop and explore more of Morocco, but the green card seemed a signal to continue our journey. Europe though seemed to not appeal as it would seem rather dull after Morocco, but heading over to Eastern Europe would be more interesting. We decided that we would come back again next year to Morocco for some winter sun. This time we would do the original journey we had planned through the valleys, mountains and touching on the desert.
When we first arrived in Morocco, this was our first Islamic country and really I suppose the poorest country we have visited. So it was all very strange and I suppose as it was different it took time to adjust. This wasn’t helped with the crash, I think after that we were ready just to get straight back out of Morocco. This country though seems to get under your skin. It is so vivid and interesting on the senses, and the ragged charm has great appeal. The landscape too, seems to constantly change the further you drive. Also we found the people further south are really welcoming and friendly. The weather being good is always a great bonus as well. Either way we would wait here another day before we could pick up our toilet liquid. Then start the journey back upwards, also we couldn’t really leave Morocco without visiting Marrakesh.
Next year we would stay in places longer and see more. Although we had planned to visit a lot this year, next year was a little more unplanned. There would be countries we would of missed and places we would probably want to go back to, either way we would still be travelling. There would also be more emphasis on earning money, so we would have to stay in places longer. This year while we still had a little saved, we would try to see as much as possible. Before earning money came more heavily into the equation. At present we have really just been constantly moving, never stopping anywhere that long. Always knowing, that we have a lot to see and get around this year while the funds were there to do so. As fuel costs, it is always cheaper to stay put somewhere a while but then you don’t get to see as much. Also for me, realisation is hitting in that back in Europe I will have to find some work. I need to top up my funds to continue around Eastern Europe in the summer carefree.
I think at present, I am finding the constant moving detrimental to pursuing creativeness. I feel that I am not having the time I desire to be able to sit, contemplate and pick up my guitar or my pen. I thought when setting out on this adventure, I would finally get the time to pursue all the creative idea’s I have floating around my head. I feel that I need long periods of submersion into whichever project I want to pursue. Which I feel at present can only be gained by spending time in one place. Otherwise there is always something to be done or place to go to. It is surprising how much time in the day is spent travelling, stopping in places for food shopping or fuel or just to find somewhere to stop and let alone all the daily routines.
Time is the master of us all.
Sitting and looking out to sea, I am not missing the daily routine a working life gives you. We have our own routines now and just being able to relax and enjoy the day is the best thing in the world. We are still tourists wandering and viewing life.
Wednesday the 24th March
In the last few days here on the beach, we have been speaking a lot with the lovely Stan and Barbara. They have travelled a lot, even recently embarking on a backpacking tour of India. They now live full time in their converted library bus and in the past have just headed back to England for the summer to work. To earn enough to then spend the winter in warmer climates, this seems a good way of doing things. It is surprisingly little how much money is required to live in a van, bus or motorhome. Fuel and food being the two main outgoings, rather than bills. Although money is always needed in savings for spare parts and emergencies. There seems to be a fair few people living full time and it seems that without being in a working society you also don’t have the pressure’s it comes with. The constant need to spend money on material objects and then a fair amount on going out, to make up for all the time one looses at work.
Anyway, Stan has given us some toilet liquid they didn’t require anymore. They have a system by which air circulates in the cassette toilet, to stop the build up of gases and of course smells. Also it helps to break down the….., how should I put it? Well you probably know what I mean! So anyway, we would now have enough liquid to last us the remaining time in Morocco. Then when back in Europe we could pick up some new liquid, that for us does what Stan’s air system does.
We decided on heading back up the coast to Essaouira to have a proper look around. On the way we would stop back in at Imsouane as Mike, we had met earlier in Morocco, was there. Stan and Barbara were also heading up that way so off we went. We arrived back in the lovely bubble of Imsouane, and parked up next to Mike, Stan and Barbara arriving later next to us. The rest of the day and night was spent cracking open some wine and chatting away with Mike, about what we were experiencing travelling and the reasons maybe we were travelling. The exact details escape me now of the conversation, but it was a good one!
Thursday 25th March
The last few days I had been itching to learn to surf, although I had bought a kayak before we set off. The kayaks as yet hadn’t been used much, due to the fact of not having buoyancy aids. Now I was wondering whether a surfboard would have been a better option, would have certainly been cheaper. Also would of taken up less space on the roof, as well as not acting like a big beacon to tell all we were coming! Morocco would certainly be a good place to maybe sell the kayak and get a surfboard.
Mike had a board so offered to show me the ropes and get me started. I really enjoyed it straight away, although I was just lying on it and paddling like a loon. Trying to catch a bit of white surf to push me along. Later on in the day I started trying to stand up, but was far too slow. I seemed to spend a long time in the water back and forth trying to just get the timing of the wave right. By the end of the day I was knackered and still not able to stand up. Now though, I knew enough to be able to practise myself with a board. I was hooked on it straight away and knew I would defiantly be surfing again at some point in the near future, for the present time I will keep hold of the kayak. When we get back to Europe, with it’s many lakes, there will be no excuse not to get it out. Also I still need to actually learn how to use the kayak properly. While learning to surf though, I had managed to break one of Mike’s surf fins. This he took very well and said it would give him something to do tomorrow, fixing it. Still I felt bad for giving him a damaged board back after he had shown me how to surf!
In the evening the three of us headed out for some food, as the surfing had made us all tired and hungry. We seemed to spend a great deal of time wondering around the few establishments of Imsouane deciding on what to eat! Tagine was everywhere, as is the case in Morocco, but this would take up to an hour to cook and we were hungry now. We settled on a café that would cook up some meat skewers, so sat down to a mint tea while we waited for the food. We then waited and waited, realising although we had seen food cooking a while ago, and there was still movement in the kitchen, nothing had materialised. The only thing that had was the smell of hash being smoked, so we probably assumed this was why things were taking there time! Lorna also pointed out it looked like the main man had been running off to different shops to get the ingredients. When we finally got our food it was not the hottest and Lorna’s vegetable kebab had turned into another meat one. Still it all tasted good and was cheap, we were far too tired and hungry to complain. When I went inside to pay, the owner seemed to have other ideas and proceeded to bring more mint tea out to us. He sat with us and drank mint tea, as is the custom in Morocco. We all knew at this point why our food had taken so long, as friendly and hospitable as he was, he was defiantly very stoned! Sitting with a cat on his lap muttering away to us, he was lost in space. By this point we were all very tired from the day and a little cold, so really wanted to head back. I asked him how much we owed him and he seemed to go off into a trance! He came back after a while with the figure, so we paid him and left him in his little bubble.
Friday 26th March
Said our goodbye’s to Mike and briefly to Stan and Barbara, although they were also on the way to Essaouira. We had got to Imsouane with very little fuel left, hoping we would of past a petrol station on way, but didn’t. There was another town not too far away that we knew had a petrol station, so we thought we had enough to get there. Also the fuel gauge on Hymer is a bit unpredictable, anyway it wasn’t at red yet. The warning light comes on early and had already come on, but this tends to happen when the level is at a quarter anyway. So we never really know exactly when it is critical. So as we left Imsouane and came up the hill we stopped dead on the road, we had run out of fuel! We were still far away from the petrol station and a good walk back to Imsouane. I took a couple of 5 litre empty bottles of water and started heading back, with the idea and hope someone may sell us some diesel in Imsouane. No sooner had I started walking when a pickup truck with two Moroccans in stopped, they said there was no fuel in Imsouane and they would drop me at a village down the road where I could buy some and then I could get a taxi back. I squeezed in the front and had a very fast journey down the road with them, the conversation a little stuck due to the language barrier. But I was very thankful for their help and they didn’t even think twice about helping. We arrived at a small village, having picked more people up along the way. There they took me to a small car parts shop, where I handed over the two bottles and he went off into the back. After a short wait I was handed back two full bottles of clear green diesel. I paid the man and then my two helpers very kindly drove me all the way back to the motorhome. They then helped me put the diesel in and then Lorna turned the key…. It was then I learnt the hard way about running out of fuel with a diesel engine! As I had never owned a diesel car I didn’t know, the pipes would now need to be bled, unlike a petrol car where you can just fill up and go straight off, a diesel engine would need to have the pipes cleared of air.
No problem, my two helpers set to work trying to pump fuel back through and get rid of the air, via the fuel filter. Only problem was I and they didn’t know where the fuel pump was and my manual is in German! Still we tried and tried with no luck. They then had to go, but before they did they called a mechanic to come out to us. We than sat and waited in the sun, while we did a fair few Moroccans stopped by and tried to help, or at least ask what the problem was. I don’t imagine this would happen in Europe, everyone would just drive past. One person tried again to pump the fuel through, as by this point I had found where the fuel pump was. So we tried again and again, but still Hymer wouldn’t start. I established off the man that the problem seemed to be the bleed screw, but he had to go off, so again we waited for the mechanic. After a while he turned up in a taxi, with a bag of tools and set to work. Eventually after realising he wouldn’t be able to sort the problem out on the roadside, he removed the fuel filter from the equation to get us started, so we could at least drive to his garage. By this time the two original helpers had turned back up to see how it was going. We headed back 30km down towards Agadir to his garage and he connected the fuel filter back up. Then tried various screws, until drilling a larger hole so one of the screws he had fitted! He then said it was fixed and charged us 500Dh, which compared to work we had already had done in Morocco seemed expensive, but he wasn’t budging on the price. We paid him and had to take it on the chin and knew we would never get to the point again we had little fuel remaining. In fact deciding at some point we would buy a small jerry can, to carry some extra fuel with us.
We filled up with fuel and continued our journey back north to Essaouira, arriving at the coastal town as the sun went down. The town seemed to be holding some rally event, 4x4’s had been passing us all day on the road and the town was awash with them. Police had also been minding the roads all the way to the town. Well I suppose they can’t stop them for speeding down public roads, if the rally has paid the police force to look after them! It was like royalty was around. We headed off into the town and wondered around some of the lovely streets, before stopping in a comfortable looking place to eat a Tagine. The seats were lining the outside of the room and the tables were squeezed together with everyone sitting on the outside looking in and across to another set of people eating. Before our food arrived I had noticed the couple opposite were about to go. Before they did, the waiters sat down more people either side of them and the tables were now so close together they couldn’t actually get out! As everyone probably spoke different languages they seemed to sit there unsure what to do or how to get out. I decided to give them a hand and walked across the room and together we lifted the table out into the room, so there were able to get out. We then had a lovely tagine before heading back to the motorhome.
Saturday 27th March
Decided to drive nearer the centre to park, where we had seen other motorhomes, just outside the old city walls. We headed around the lovely small streets and souqs of this coastal town. Also heading up on the ramparts overlooking the sea. Today I was drawn to the abundance of music shops, selling different African and Moroccan instruments. I was particularly keen on seeing how much an Oud was to buy and just to have a play on one. I have really come to love the droning sound of the instrument, having heard it on a few albums and by one group in particular, Le Trio Joubran. In one of the shops I had a quick go, but it is an instrument I would need time playing around till I played something good! The shopkeeper also introduced me to an African bass instrument. The strings made from pig intestine and also the body being camel skin. So while plucking at the three strings you can also play a rhythm on the drum. It was really fun and interesting to play, although my African rhythms need a lot of work. Never less I had a play and got a tune going while the shopkeeper played percussion. Then he played some stuff that put me to shame and made me want to learn this instrument! While we wondered around other great shops in this relaxed city, I kept wondering into other music stores and playing on the Oud and the African bass. In one store I met a lovely guy called Yousseff who showed me some more tunes on the African bass, which we played together. He also made the bass guitars himself. I haven’t got the money to buy any instruments at present, but next time I come to Morocco I will defiantly get some.
After walking around more artisan shops, we ended up buying two lovely hand made poufs. We decided they would be great to sit on outside, while on our new Moroccan mat. The chairs we had were starting to fall to bits! We did get the cheap ones mind. Later that evening we went out for a pizza that turned out tasting so wonderful, it left you wanting more.
Essaouira really seems a lovely city to defiantly come again, although, with any city it seemed to have a darker side.
Sunday 28th March
Headed up to Safi along the coastal road, with the aim of seeing the Moroccan pottery works. Most of the lovely pottery that you see in Morocco is made in Safi. Lorna wanted to buy some, but hadn’t as yet and we thought we would get some from the city that made them.
We couldn’t find anywhere to park near the centre, but eventually found a campsite just outside the city away from the coast. Parked up under the trees, as it was nice to get some shade, from the sun. Decided though we were too tired to do any shopping for pottery, so stayed relaxing in the campsite the rest of the day, doing little jobs. We would be heading straight off to Marrakesh tomorrow, so I think we would probably need all our energy for that city. Plus we could always buy pottery there. I made a call home to say hello, though it was a very short call, it was great to hear everyone.