Day 17: 22/10/18
Location: Azrou (Euro camping)
Now well and truly out of the desert, the landscape was strikingly different, and largely used for agriculture with intricate irrigation systems carving their way through the fields. Between farmlands were mountains, somewhat resembling the lake district. There was the occasional donkey, so laden that you could only see its feet, being walked down the mountains by their owners. It quickly became apparent that they had right of way on the roads, and we were expected to practically vanish whilst they plodded down the mountain, making absolutely no efforts to move out of the middle of the road. Through a couple of the towns the local children decided it would be fun to jump onto the back of our moving cars, holding on to the ladder for dear life. Driving fast enough to try and shake them off, but slow enough that we didn’t kill them, we put our foots down, and were glad to see the older people telling off the children for being irritating little turds.
Day 19: 24/10/18
Location: Chefchaouen (Camping Azila)
That morning we separated from James and Lucy and agreed to meet later at our campsite. They got up and explored, whilst we had a lazy morning and slowly meandered our way to Chefchaouen, the final destination of our trip, and a town rapidly increasing in its popularity due to its ‘instagrammability’ (is that a word?!).
Throughout our trip, we were careful to stick to the speed limits (despite limited signage as to what these were). During this particular drive, the police were out with their radar speed guns. Following the car in front, and going exactly the same speed as them, they were waved through by the police, and we were told to pull over. Whist Chris spoke to one of the police officers, asking for proof of our speed, Kath and I watched as the locals were waved through and tourists were stopped for ‘speeding’. After a few minutes, the police officer agreed that we were only going about 4-5 miles over the speed limit, so they would let us off the fine this time. James and Lucy, who we later found out were also pulled over at the same spot, were not so lucky and had to part with some Dirhams before they got back onto the road.
Also known as ‘The Blue Town’, Chefchaouen, according to our guide book, was painted blue by the Jews who were rebelling against the colours of Islam. After having a day in Fes exploring the souks, Chefchaouen was very similar, but smaller, less busy, and more blue. We explored during the afternoon and then sat down to eat just as the evening call to prayer rang out across the town.
The whole of Chefchaouen was abundant with stray cats, but as we walked into the restaurant, we wondered why they all seemed to centre around this one building. After taking our first mouthful of our dinners, we realised why. We had gone to what can only be described as the worst restaurant in Morocco. We left, the cats enjoying our inedible meals, and had a second dinner at another restaurant, whist using their WiFi to write a scathing review of the place across the street.
Looking back: Our trip to Morocco was more than a success. For Chris and I it was not just a holiday, but a test of;
could we do it?
could we afford it?
and more importantly, did we enjoy it?
Luckily the answer to all of the above was yes. At times the trip was difficult – 5 people sharing lives together in two very confined spaces inevitably leads to moments of grumpiness. We had a few sticky moments with each other, a small minority of locals, and the cars. The flies in the desert were absolutely relentless, and there was barely a quiet moment with donkeys and dogs everywhere, as well as calls to prayer from dawn to dusk. Nonetheless, the adventure was brilliant. We saw parts of the country that many tourists does not get to see. We camped practically on top of sand dunes in the Sahara. We met many interesting and lovely people – both Moroccans and fellow foreigners. The lows of the trip just added to the adventure, and left us with a story to tell when we got back. And, as my (not so) little sister wisely tells me, if nothing else, do it for the story.