MOROCCO

Sunday, 12 November 06

 

So far so good! After two weeks of last-minute preparations in Spain I知 ready to leave Europe and go for the long way down to Capetown.

I clear the camp site of Tariffa at 6 o'clock in the morning and drive to the port. The weather is nice and the sea quietly lies in the morning sun.

9 on the dot my ferry departs to Tanger.

 

I go to the cafeteria, order a coffee and sit down at the window.

I can already see Africa coming closer and the coast is wrapped into a narrow cloud of dust.

I知 excited. What will happen, will I and the motorcycle make it?

A loudspeaker announcement tears me out of my thoughts, Morocco police comes on board to check the passports.

The control runs fast and friendly, 5 minutes later I can drive my motorcycle off the ferry. The entry formalities for the vehicle are done in the same friendly way. After the custom officer stamps my papers he wishes me a save journey in German!

That is good to hear! Last, I buy the mandatory bike insurance at the border and head into Tanger. 

 

Tanger is a very modern and European like town.

I stop at the cafe Mozart and drink a Viennese Melange!

The waiter asks me where I come from and as I tell him that I知 from, Nemsa (Arabic for Austria) he hugs me and gives me a kiss.

I leave Tanger heading south via the old main road along the coast.

The first kilometers in Morocco are something to get used to, people still drive with heart and horn!

 

Driving here is a lot of fun but however, in the back of my head I知 glad to have an insurance.

After approximately 250 kilometers I reach the ctiy of Rabat.

There is a nice camp site at the beach and I will spend a few days here.

Rabat is the capital of Morocco and at the same time one of the cleanest and most pleasant cities of the country.

For me Rabat is one of the most important stops in North-West Africa. Here I will hopefully get some of the visas to continue my journey. Nearly every African country has its embassy in Rabat.

After a beautiful run into the sunset along the beach I climb into my tent and spend my first night on African soil.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 13 November 2006

 

The morning is pleasantly cool and I immediately head to the diplomatic quarter of the town.

If you decide to get some of your African Visas in Rabbat, you have the big advantage that most embassies are in the same quarter. There are nice avenues with big villas and expensive cars are parked outside.

 

 

It痴 no problem at all to leave the bike on the road. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I drive to the embassy of Mali. Mali usually is extremely bureaucratic as well one of the poorest countries in the world. You need a special permission for many areas and everything has its price.

Their embassy is located in a huge mansion and as I come there the doors are open. There are no security guards as in the neighbouring embassy of the Ivory Coast.

I take my document case and enter the building. No people around. I come into a big atrium which is decorated with beautiful Arab ornaments and then enter a kind of inner court. From there a door leads into a modern office.

As I look into the office, suddenly a man in traditional Malian clothes stands behind me, followed by a man in a suit and a woman who wears an African dress as well.

Obviously surprised, they ask me what I知 doing here and how I came in. I thruthfully answer by the open door and explain that I need a visa for Mali.

Whereupon the man in the suit says that the embassy is not open yet but that I can leave my passport there and fetch the visa in the afternoon.

Wow, that was simple.

So I go running during the day and take a few pictures on the beach.

 

The kids are playing football and everything is relaxed. As I come to the embassy at two o'clock I can already collect my visa, perfect!

Now, two security guards stand in front of the building and examine my motorcycle with interest. Then they wish me a safe journey.

I use the rest of the day to drive to the embassy of Burkina Faso.

As I park my bike before the building, a man comes out and friendly asks me to come inside.

The visa can not be issued today but I can apply for it today and get it tomorrow.

Tres bien!

In the evening I go for a ride through the Souks, the market streets of Rabat. That is a cool experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

 

Today I fetch my visa for Burkina Faso. Everything runs friendly and hassle free.

I also decide to visit the embassy of Nigeria and see whether I they would issue me a visa.

As to be expected, Nigeria is slightly different from the other countries. A man with a submachine gun stands in front of the door but he friendly lets me in.

In the embassy I知 likewise received very welcoming but told that in Morocco visas are only issued for Maroccans.

As I tell them that I travel for UNICEF and that I come from Nemsa (Austria) which is a very close friend to Nigeria, the secretary says that perhaps something could be done. He asks me into a dark room with no lights and we sit down on a couch. He explains that there is a so called multiple entry business visa that costs approx. 300 US Dollars and is valid for 3 months.

That is an unacceptable price. I decide to try it in Dakar/Senegal and/or in Bamako/Mali where the visa should be cheaper. Non business, single entry and one month are enough for me.

This is Africa, everything is possible but nothing is for sure. At least the secretary was so friendly to show me the best route through his country. That is worth a lot.

The rest of the day I spend with Sight Seeing and visit the Roman Ruins and the Medina.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

 

Today I will leave Rabat. I will apply for the Mauritanian visa at their consulate in Casablanca.

I also have to extend my Motorcycle-insurance before I leave. The original 10 days will not be enough for me. Since I have to spend so much time with the bureaucratic tasks, I would like to remain in Morocco somewhat longer and drive around a bit.

 

The road office

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 16 November 2006

 

This morning, Casablanca receives me with rain. It is cold and as I climb out of my tent a dog pisses in front of my nose.

Such a nice way of saying good morning.

The first mission leads me to the consulate of Mauritania. I come there half past 8 and a policeman is already bussy directing the people into a queue.

Many French and Moroccan car runners are always on their way to Mauretania to sell their old cars there expensively. The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is one of the few countries in Africa where no Carnet de Passage is needed. Thus vehicle sales are possible without problems. Besides that, an old car from Europe is considered as the largest status symbol.

The formalities for the visa are going fast. I pay, fill out the application and can collect the passport at 4 in the afternoon.

No problems.

The rest of the day I spend in the old part of town in one of the numerous tea houses with work on the computer. As I ask for a plug socket, the waiter disconnects the television so that I can plug in my laptop ! The people in the cafe look unhappy, they have watched television. However, nobody complains! I cannot bear that. I quickly get out my distributor plug from the Moroccan building market and the televisions works again. All are happy. That you should try in a pub in Europe.

Modern Casablanca 

Old Casablanca 

 

I sorted out all the things and can drive on. Tomorrow I値l be heading south to Marrakech and from there over the High Atlas into the sea of the eternal sands. The Sahara. In Shalah! If Allah wants it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 17 November 2006

 

As I wake up this morning the rain has fortunately stopped. Nevertheless I知 getting pissed off soon.

A bird family nested in the tree over me and shit on my tent during the whole night. That looks so disgusting, that I must clean the outer tent with liquid soap. I also have never seen animals that can shit with such a precision. On the ground next to the tent was not the smallest piece of dirt!

 

I leave Casablanca and head down to Marrakech.

 

The road leads through beautiful landscapes which endlessly extend to the horizon.

 

 

As I arrive in Marrakech, many things have changed at the first sight. Only a few donkey cars still remain as left-overs from former times and the roads are nice and clean.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 18 November 2006

 

 

 

Today, I cross the Atlas Mountains. Over a distance of 200 kilometers one comes through 3 totally different climatic zones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mediteranean climates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rocky mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And desert climates

 

 

After rough travel over potholed tarmac and dirt roads, I have my first damage through vibration. As I stop for drinking some water, I notice that my rear foot rest went off and with it the fixation of the paniers.

 

It still stands about 100 km to the next larger city. I can improvise and repair the supporter with two cable straps and wire and continue driving. At the next village I find a general store who solves my problem within two minutes.

As I want to pay for the new screw-bolt the owner brings me another two to keep as spares! In Morocco he says, you find many screws and bolts on the road therefore one always must keep backup.

 

I spend the night in Quarzazate, the former caravan city between Atlas and Sahara.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 19. 11. 2006

 

Today I do some routine maintenance on the motorcycle. My right cylinder makes some rattling noises and I assume that it is the valve play.

 

 

After a short readjusting the problem is solved and the machine runs as new again.

The area around Quarzazate is full of fantastic impressions and always great for a joy ride.

 

 

 

Today I meet two Bikers from Germany on the camp site. Natascha and Chris already crossed the Westsahara and Mauretania with their BMW motorcycles. Now they are on their way back to Germany.

We decide to spend a few days together.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 20 November 2006

 

 

This morning I go for a run. I must think of my friend, who raced in the Marathon du Sable. More different from home, a running trail actually can not be. But you could get used to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we visit the Atlas Film Studios. Here movies like the Gladiator or Asterix and Cleopatra where made.

Unfortunately the sets are not maintained and strongly run down. Like Noah痴 Ark or Cleopatras Palace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

 

After a cold desert night in Quarzazate we go for a ride on the motorcycle. The piste roads are great and in two months the Lisboa-Dakar goes through. Riding here on your own motorcycle is much more fun than watching the others on Euro Sport.

 

 

 

 

 

We let the evening end in a small restaurant in the middle in the old fortifications. The atmosphere is great.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

 

Today we continue to Zagora. The road leads along the valley of the Draa and passes bizarre rock formations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People痴 life is harder here than in the modern north of the country.

At the roadside nomads try to sell their goods and most heavy work is still performed by hand.

 

Street children run before my bike to stop me and as I swing to the roadside to take a picture the first stones are thrown at me. Fortunately they don稚 hit.

Arrived in Zagora, annoying moped drivers chase me and all sorts of dealers jump on the road in order to sell me something.

At the camp site I meet my friends from Germany again and we are received very friendly. The owner asks us whether we would like to eat in his restaurant, a Berbertent.

Since the atmosphere is pleasant and the camp site lies in the middle of an oasis, we agree so.

As we sit down and wait for the meal a wild fight breaks out in the kitchen. Glasses burst, a man gets beaten down and people are chasing each other through the garden.

We remain calm and try to asses the situation.

Such things can end quite tragically, because you never know who lost his face within such an argument and in what ever kind of way he tries to regain his reputation..

We leave the terrace next to the entrance and sit down further away. Despite all the unrest the food tastes outstandingly good and is served by a waiter with his hurt hand straped into a plastic bag.

However, during the night we will watch out. You never know. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 23 November 2006

 

The day receives us with beautiful sunshine and the night was much warmer than in Quarzazate.

We decide to make a trip to Mhamid. This small town lies in the middle of a dry salt lake and was an important junction for the caravans of former times. There, salt was exchanged for silk. Nowadays, the border to Algeria is located only a few kilometers in the south. 

The landscape is absolutely impressing and leads through the southern stretches of the Anti-Atlas into the infinite width of the desert. 

 

 

Riding a bike can not be greater than here. The sun of the Sahara burns through your jacket and the endless desert lies ahead to be dicovered. A feeling like Beyond of Africa!

 

In the evening we return to the camp site and I start my laptop.

 

 

There is still some work to do, today the German motorcycle magazine Bikerszene asked me for an email interview and I知 happy to answer their questions.

 

 

Friday, 24 November 06

 

Today we spend a cosy day at the camp site. I go for a run and work with Chris on the motorbikes. As I remove the rear bellow of the drive shaft, transmission oil comes out.

That points on a worn gear box seal. Unfortunately I cannot repair it here. In order to change the seal I would have to remove the whole drive shaft. I値l have that done at BMW in South Africa. Up to then I must repeatedly refill the oil and check the loss.

 

 

Saturday, 25 November 2006

 

From now on, I will drive alone again. Natascha and Chris ride into the other direction and we must separate after a great time together.

I will head on to the south via the old desert road to Foum Zigid.

 

The road is good and the machine is easily moved over the sand and gravel.

 

 

The area is very lonely and there are nice litle dunes along the road. The piste partly leads through small villages. At the first sight these villages look uninhabited, as soon as I drive through one of them, suddenly a shady body separates from a wall and tries to intercept me.

I assume that it is a begging child and reduce my speed to go by safely.

As the I come closer, I recognize that it a 15 to16 year old guy who purposefully tries to shoot me off the bike with rocks! Fortunately, I am still far away enough so I get away without beeing hit.

This scene also repeats itself in one of the other villages. That time a boy jumps in front of my motorcycle and at the end of a soft and sandy section two other young people throw rocks at me. Fortunately again without success.

Somewhat later a sheperd boy runs up to me and tries to spit me in the face. I cannot believe that all this is actually happening.

I know Morocco and importunate kids that beg and throw rocks are normal but

such a hostile determination against a traveller I have not experienced anywhere yet.

If that was not enough, on the half way to Foum Zigid a sandstorm breaks off. My sight is strongly limited and the terrain becomes very difficult to judge.

 

 

Since I do not know, which other hostilities may lie ahead and whether the storm will become worse, I decide to return to Zagora using Track Back on my GPS. Now, the sandstorm turns out to be a friend. The boys and young men can not recognize me hundreds of meters before the village.

They do not make any further attempts to stop me on my way back.

 

Everything goes well and I take the road from Zagora to Agadir and then to Guemin.

That has the advantage that I come through areas with people who are more accustomed to motorcyclists and who understand that tourists rather spend money when no rocks are flying. 

I must notice that Morocco is a beautiful country with very hospitable and friendly people.

The border area to Algeria with its small villages off the roads, however is a different story.

Some local kids would probably also like to have motorbikes but know that they can not afford them, so in some of them that might produce hate. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 26 November 2006

 

After a cold night in the mountains I see the snow-covered summits of the Atlas mountains to my right and swing in to the left heading south.

 

 

In the permanently strong and cold wind I drive to Fort Bou Jerif at Sidi Ifni.

Sidi Ifni is located at the Atlantic and once was a Portuguese enclave, given back to Morocco in 1969.

In Bou Jerif there is a camp site inside the old fort once built by Foreign Legionnaires.

There I spend the night under millions of stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 27 November 2006

 

Today I drive to Layoune and start crossing the Westsahara.

Endlessly long, the road leads along the coast, straight out into nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

Not even one of the free-living Dromedars crosses my way. Only a ship wreck at the beach offers a little distraction from this isolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

 

During the night I woke up a couple of times. In the morning I知 freezing and sweating at the same time. Probably I caught an infection.

I feel weak and tired.

As I want to lift the motorbike on the main stand I also manage to hurt my back. Back luck for me today as it appears.

The first 150 km go quite well, then however pain puts tears in my eyes and driving means constant agony. I知 in the middle of the desert, there is nothing it all and another 400km lie ahead in order to reach Dakhla.

Around noun I also start suffering from fever and together with the pain, riding becomes difficult. Fortunately I find an accumulation of huts 200km before Dakhla. Some trucks park in front of it and I see a Coca Cola sign.

A real luxury in this isolation, I have just found a rest house.

I lie down on the carpet next to the truck drivers and sleep for one hour. When I wake up, I feel better again and the owner of the place hands me a sandwich and a coke.

He says, Sahara and laughs. Likewise do the others in the restaurant and I think I know why.

As I reach Dakhla in the late afternoon I drive the last 10km directly into the sun. Even with my new goggles the view is equal to zero and I drive through a white golden wall.

 

Dakhla is a military town. Here is one barrack next to the other and when you arrive you have to show your passport at the checkpoint

 

As in the Westsahara the data of the passport is usually copied and some questions are asked. However, all controls run correctly.

The wind still blows violently and I decide to spend the night in a hotel.

14 Euros per night are ok and the hotel is very clean. When the owner copies my name from the passport, he gives me a lecture about Austrian history as well as the causes and the background of the First World War! That is too much for me today, after 500 kilometers on the Bike and all my arduous back problems, I say good night and go to the room quickly. I go to sleep around 7:30pm and sleep through to around 8am the next day.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

 

In the morningsun, I sit down for breakfast at the sea shore as two children come up to me. They collect scrap metal.

As I offer them some food, a boy gets a piece of lead out of his pocket and gives it to me. He proudly explains to me that it is also well suited for throwing.

When I look at the piece, I recognize that it must be from a fishing net. I am glad that the stone throwing children did not have such projectiles.

In the afternoon I drive the bike throught Dakhla and make a stupid misstake.

I come into a side lane where the sewer lids have been removed!

That is not further indicated, only some stones are put in a circle around the hole.

 

As I come around the corner I look for upcoming traffic and as I see the hole it is too late to avoid it. I hit both brakes, the front wheel drifts away and the motorcycle falls to the side. I can jump off and fortunately don稚 hurt myself. The machine comes to lying next to the hole and fortunately the front wheel did not dive into it. That probably would have destroyed the fork.

I was lucky but I must watch out! You never know what lies ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 30 November 2006

 

Today I go to the post office and send home some things I don稚 need any more.

The afternoon I spend in one of the Teahouses. As I try to learn some more arabic the owner gives me a scarf as a present. To protect from the sun and to remember.

Today is my last day in Morroco. Tomorrow I will cross the border to Mauretania.