Roll through the Rif

Tarifa (Spain), 20.04.2014

With a ferry at 20:30 and 500km of mountain road ahead, I left Midelt early in the morning. Shops were still closed and the temperatures so chilly I had to get a sweater out. The night before I hadn’t noticed in the darkness how the vegetation had changed from the desert in Errachida to the green hills around here. And the further I drove north toward Azrou, the greener they got. The road was good today, and after half an hour began an ascent into an alpine mountain range, with fat fields and stretches of forest. Compared with the 37 degrees of two days ago, today’s 9 degrees up here were quite a shock.

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As the kms passed and I climbed up to 1900m altitude, I realised I had to skip Fes since there was no point in driving there, taking a 30 mins walk through the old town and then race on. I had seen the city on my last visit, so I kept driving straight north after Azrou, through Meknes into an even fatter and greener Rif mountain range, with ampler valleys and a lot of fields. I passed Moulay Idriss on my right, and drove on to reach blue Chefchaouen for lunch. The moment I got out of the car and started to walk up into the old town it started to rain. I wandered through the narrow alleys of the medina and had lunch on the square in front of the Kasbah. There were a lot of domestic and foreign tourists here, and local bands played improvised music, while by-passers joined dancing. Until a heavy rain got everybody running off seeking shelter.

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But soon afterwards the sun came out again, and as I drove out of town a rainbow appeared. I had eaten too much (the couscous was delicious) and was tired of driving behind the crappy and stinky local cars, that the drive to Tetouan and Tangier went very, very slowly. Traffic got quite intense, and I reached the port of Tangier at 18:00. I got told to just hop on the next ferry, and since there was one leaving half an hour later I hoped I might catch it. But the passport and customs controls were so slow, that in the end I just made it on the 20:30 ferry. In Tarifa all this had taken 15 minutes, on the moroccan side I lost over 2h to get onto the ship. As the night fell the ferry left Morocco, and the lights of Tangier became smaller and smaller. Arrived in the port of Tarifa, in a few minutes all formalities were done and I parked the car outside of the old town, got my bags and checked into the hotel. At 23:00 I found a small bar still open, and had my first beer in a week and some tapas. Walking through the empty streets of Tarifa in yellow lights it felt good to not get sold something or asked for money constantly. Women dressed freely again. And while Tarifa felt quite shabby and hippie on my way to Morocco a week ago, now it was a beacon of civilisation, order and cleanliness to me.

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Trip data

– Km driven: 496

– Hours on the road: 7,5

– l diesel/100km: 5,4

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