South of Tangier

Rabat (Morocco), 13.04.2014

On a quiet street with few people, most of them still mentally sleeping, I enjoyed a simple breakfast in the morning: coffee with milk, bread with tomato and olive oil, orange juice. I found eggs on the menu of the bar: “fritos” (fried) or “revueltos” (scrambled). I went for the latter, fearing eggs swimming in a bath of frying oil. I got two eggs fried from both sides, with the oil dripping on the plate. They did take the revuelto (turned around) literally here.

The ferry check in was a 10 minute affair, there were few cars in the port at 10:20. The ferry came into port, docked, unloaded. A guy from the crew came towards the Mini and signaled me to get out of the line and follow him. “You’re the first in and first out. Small car” he laughed. On the upper deck there was a line to get the passport stamped. After a while it was my turn, when I saw the guy in front of me had a pack of at least 10 passports in his hand. Two other guys waited for him on the side, handing him another two packs each – a tour group of 54 mostly Latin American tourists! Time went by and I got my stamps too.

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The ride across the strait of Gibraltar went very fast, in less then an hour I arrived. Weather was OK, no rain, a bit windy maybe. At the port exit I had to wait quite a bit for the superfluous paperwork procedures. I remembered the Turkmenistan border controls and had to smile, this was so comparatively easy here. The only hassle were the unofficial but tolerated “agents”, whose job consists of carrying paperwork from one place to the other and asking for a tip.

I drove through Tangier, past the old town walls and through the newer areas. I was surprised to find a huge, modern city, with a lot of impeccably clean lawns and parks. Out of town I took the smaller road close to the seaside instead of the motorway, and drove by the vast beaches and blue water as long as possible.

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At lunchtime I reached Asilah, a fortified town on the beach, with beautiful gates to the old quarter and lovely whitewashed houses on the inside. I wandered through the narrow alleys to the other end of the fortifications, overlooking the sea, and then back to the gates. In front was a fish restaurant. It looked clean but expensive, but not modern or touristy. Salad, sardines and a local beer were exactly what I wanted. Just the coffee was bar, the cup dirty.

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After Asilah the road turned inland, and I switched to the motorway. I kept the 120km/h limit, since there were a lot of police stops with speed controls. I was in no rush anyway, enjoying the sun, the heat and the wind in my hair. I thought that it would have been a year since I took off for Eurasia in a few days, and thought about the journey as the Moroccan countryside passed by.

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I reached Sale and then Rabat in the afternoon, with the sun still shining. Traffic was not too heavy but chaotic, and I had to find my way to the old town. It felt good to navigate through a chaotic city again, after some months in over-regulated European traffic. Once I arrived on the Rabat side of the river separating it from Sale, I recognised the streets from last time I was here. I parked the car on the outer walls of the old town, got my stuff out and went searching for the riad I had booked. I asked around, and a man at some point told me he would show me the way. At the door of the riad he asked for a tip.

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After a little rest I went for dinner in the busy streets of the old town of Rabat: boiled snails in their sauce; a fried vegetable sandwich; merguez and liver with onions. For dessert I had an orange juice. While I strolled from one food cart to the next I soaked up the atmosphere. There were some herbs stands that I could smell from a distance with their mix of mint and rosemary. Several guys with bright, wide open eyes ran around erratically. Cats strolled around the trash to find something to eat. To close the day I went up to the rooftop terrace of the riad to write this post before closing this first day in Morocco.

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Trip data

– Km driven: 252

– Hours on the road: 6

– l diesel/100km: 5,3

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