A Travellerspoint blog

Thursday 11th February to Friday 12th February

Into Morocco

Thursday 11th February

Got up very early to have breakfast and be ready to go. 7.30 came and another smaller campervan turned up with a French couple inside. We all waited and we were hoping more would turn up, so when we arrived in crazy Tangier it wouldn’t be just us in a motorhome. 8.30 also came and went, as this was the other time on a card we had been given, still no one had come to collect us. So we phoned Carlos who said he would be there in 10 mins, just got out of bed we thought. When Carlos showed up, the language barrier was difficult as he spoke more French than English. But we established through the French couple that he had come and collected everybody last night. They had spent the night at the port ready for the ferry this morning and why didn’t we go down with them last night? We’ll we weren’t told that and didn’t know, we were told this car park 7.30. This fell on deaf ears, and he explained that we could get on the next ferry at 10.30. We were too tired to complain and knew for the price of the tickets, there was no point. We followed him down to the port, handed over our tickets and got pointed in a vague direction of where to go. Unlike British ports where your ushered into your position, people just seemed to be driving about and pulling up somewhere behind the boat, not really in order. We pulled up waiting with a load of cars and vans with big packages on roofs. There seemed to be no rush in loading the ferry and after what seemed some time lorry containers were reversed into the only ferry door. After a bit longer the cars and us were waved in. The ferry was a basic and old affair, and people milled around and lay about to rest. We had a few forms to fill in to enter Morocco. They were 3 copies of the Motorhome certificate, one to enter one to leave and one for you to keep and temporary immigration forms for us. On the ferry we were able to get our immigration forms dealt with and our passports stamped, a first for me. But we also found out this ferry, unlike the one in the morning that takes 45 mins, was the slow boat that would take two and a half hours! So we settled down rather annoyed at the circumstances surrounding us not getting the earlier ferry.

We sat outside upstairs slowly watching Spain and the Rock of Gibraltar get further away while another continent and Morocco got closer. As we came into Tangier we noticed sprawling concrete tower blocks at the forefront of mountains. After a wait to get off the ferry, due to an old van breaking down halfway up the ramp, we were being waved towards Moroccan Customs and the roads of Morocco. This was when they mayhem started, we had read about Tangier customs being hectic. People who weren’t official come and try to help you with papers in return for money, so we were ready or so we thought. We got ushered into a space in the queue by some people with badges and we handed over our papers. They then checked them and the motorhome and filled out a couple of bits before handing them back to us and asking for money! Damn we had just been had. I gave them a very small amount and we were told to join another queue, as that was the one for camping cars. This is where the waiting started, and we watched the chaos, as people were swarming everywhere helping people with papers and ushering them into queues. The Policeman, who was doing the custom checks and paperwork for our queue, took a disliking to us and told us we needed to turn back around and join the queue on the further side. By the looks, he wanted to get another ferry that was departing through his side. So we tried turning around but got stuck, sandwiched between cars as they came off ferries and joined queues here, there and everywhere! We were there for over an hour not being able to move. No one letting us out as people tried to get into any gap they could, to get through one of the custom points. The Police we could see checking cars and doing paperwork randomly, not in any order of who was next, just I think who had paid the paper helpers more! So we waited, after a while another police officer saw we weren’t getting anywhere and told us to re-join the queue we started in. As we re-joined it the first Policeman went into a slight rage with us, shouting as he had told us to join the other queue and why were we back here! Although this was in French and Arabic, We managed to explain between his rants that the other officer had sent us back to this queue. At that point the two officers started arguing with each other, which resulted in us staying in the queue. But now we would have our new friend doing the customs checks, and a lot of cars had to empty a lot of their contents out to be checked. We knew he would be doing a thorough check. Going through our van getting everything out, we couldn’t wait. After a while longer we were eventually to our relief seen by the other policeman who simply looked inside and asked us if we had any arms, which at first we were confused about till we realised he meant firearms. As this was our first visit I then had to leave the motorhome and the gates of customs to wonder outside and into an office to check something. I found an office with plain-clothes policemen inputting the immigration cards into the computer. They just took a look at my passport, matched it up with the form and then I was sent back to the motorhome. We were then free to leave the chaotic customs and go into Morocco. If this was just how customs were, what was the rest of the country going to be like!


We had decided to go straight out of Tangier and deal with it when we were more used to Morocco. So we just followed the signs out, thankfully easy to follow. As soon as we were out of the port we defiantly weren’t in Europe any more. Our first Islamic state, if not already rather westernised. The houses looked basic and half finished, but along side finished buildings. Groups of men were everywhere and all forms of transport seemed to be on the roads. We headed towards Tetouan on the North East coast of Morocco and a small town on the coast called Martil. On the way all the roads were lined with Moroccan flags, and the whole feeling was strange, a land we weren’t used to. Also people, mainly men, seemed to be everywhere. Wondering in towns, villages and in the country.

In Martil we drove along the new beachfront trying to find the campsite. We found signs eventually pointing down an uneven dirt track in between buildings. At first we thought it couldn’t be the road, but after another drive around, we found that it was indeed the road and we pulled into our first Moroccan campsite. We now needed to find a cash point, as we had no Dirham, the Moroccan currency. After a walk around the beach front past many café’s and people wondering about, we found no cash point. The guy at the campsite said he would take euros though, so we settled down in the motorhome for the night.

Friday 12th February

Got chatting this morning to a Scottish guy called Mike, who was also just in Morocco for the first time and travelling alone. He was having some insurance problems for Morocco. As his insurance company wouldn’t insure him and at present he wasn’t going any further, till he had sorted some. We said our insurance covered us third party for Morocco, so we were ok. We had already noticed on the travels a lot of police check points and police on the road and were told they do random checks and will always want to see all your documents. So really to be on the safe side he needed to sort the insurance out.

We also got chatting to an older English man called Arthur, he and his wife had been to Morocco many times, so he gave some good advice and showed us his pictures. We were wanting to head further south today, so we said our goodbyes and took Mike’s details to be able to meet up with him later on and headed off. We were heading south towards the rif mountains and a town called Chefchaouen. The roads in Morocco aren’t the best, but saying that they weren’t either in Portugal. There are many holes and the roads are just in bad condition. You can’t get up much speed or you’ll just suddenly hit a hole or a bit of missing road. So our journey was slow. Also in Morocco you have to try and work out what the other drivers are going to do. There are Mercedes vans and cars everywhere and they are always suddenly pulling over to pick people up, who wait for lifts by the side of roads. Also there are mopeds darting all over the shop and Donkey’s, so it makes driving interesting! People and especially the grand taxi’s seem to like taking over just before blind bends and at junctions, as queuing doesn’t really happen it’s everyone for themselves. When we arrived in Chefchaouen, we had even more fun trying to find the campsite. We followed signs up through the village, slowly winding up the hill and then over a road that was still being built or having major repairs? When we got there though, the campsite had great views over the town and we were at the very foot of the Rif Mountains. We decided to head off for a walk around the town, the Medina (old town) and Souq (markets).


Now the Rif mountains although they looked beautiful are also home to most of Morocco’s Hash growing. As soon as we walked out the campsite we saw people coming from by the hills heading straight for us, as soon as they had said hello and you responded they were trying to sell us hash. We had learnt one phrase in Arabic that came in very handy, La Shukran (No thank you). So after a while walking with us they gave up and wondered off. Then we were free to carry on our walk down the hill and into the town. We had a wonder around the town, now with local currency, looking at the narrow streets and market stores that make up the Souq before heading back to the campsite. On the way back again and in fact every time we stepped out the campsite gates we were hassled by sellers.


We settled down for the night in the secure surroundings of the campsite, finding Morocco a strange place, and not as yet feeling comfortable here. There are always people everywhere and staring, but still it was our second day it would probably take a while.

Posted by marklorna 18:04

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