Ouazazate ( pronounced: fast with a lot of z’s) was as far as we planned to get. It is a town on the edge of the Sahara, the rocky edge not the sandy bit which is a lot further away..
To get there involves driving over the Atlas mountains, several hours of winding roads, amazing views, Berber villages and a lot of outdoor, hanging meat stalls.
The main economy over the winding roads is selling rocks. Quite lovely rocks, as they have crystals inside them. But it is an eye opener once out of the cities to see the very simple rural lifestyles and the dependence on tourists.
On the other side of the mountain range, naively expecting to find an untouched town on the edge of nowhere, instead we find one of the world’s biggest film sets.. who knew.. Game of Thrones was filmed here ( I’m guessing some of the dragon, slave emancipating bits).
Were there camels in GoT??
This was possibly, the morning that will stay in the mind the longest..
Ok, so we knew the Satnav was crap over here. But we didn’t know quite how bad.
We were heading for Ouarzzarte, our final destination in Morocco, the edge of the Sahara! So far so good, we are making a few turns, getting closer to the ring road on the outskirts of the city. Then this little intersection was a bit of an omen.
And then the Satnav said turn left, towards the entrance to the Medina.
So I obeyed her.
We got stuck halfway through the entrance.. like actually stuck. There were kids on the footpath pressing their bodies up against the wall as I tried to reverse out and I had to make them stand on their toes so I didn’t run over their feet. There are no photos or videos of this event because this was a very stressful time for the driver..
We spent the morning in the same medina in Rabat looking for a knife. Wasn’t the easiest thing to communicate, or find, but eventually we found a nifty little set of knives in a filthy packet but couldn’t have been happier. The plan was to make sandwiches using whatever bread and cheese we could find and salami from Spain. We found out later cheese doesn’t really exist in Morocco.
We headed to Marrakech to find the boutique apartments we had booked, but the trouble started when we hit the town. The Satnav kept pointing us in random directions. A couple of young guys on a moped saw us looking confused at a roundabout and offered to show us the way. Was awesome. Right up to when we realised this was a thing. And they weren’t budging unless they got a big tip for them and everyone else apparently who helped in the way-finding/parking exercise.
The rooms were pretty nice, and it really was relaxing to have a rooftop area. We just went with the whole tout thing and let some other kid take us to the best ever Marrakech authentic restaurant – and while it was all just a bit over the top for tourists – the food was absolutely incredible. They do really, really good salads.
Other than the never ending drama of finding a park, let alone a hotel without access to the internet, Rabat was the pick of the trip.
It is the capital city of Morocco, but the old town and Medina aren’t really tourism spots, and so it was like stepping into a normal Friday night with street food, fresh fish, olives and of course sunglasses and phone cases.
We were definitely being noticed as different here, but not in a touristy way, more like in a what the hell are you doing in here, way.
It is a beautiful town though, the cemetery by the sea was amazing.
I can’t really describe the feeling of being on ferry sailing to Africa. It is just thrilling really. It’s only going to be a fraction of Africa, baby steps before a proper expedition. But, for me anyway, a big day.
The logistics of getting to and on ferries is becoming more normal now, as it is a pretty well oiled system here. Perhaps with the exception of clearing customs in Morocco. I followed this guy’s guide to planning the trip and it was really helpful.
Having the D16 printed and ready to go along with all the other paperwork meant it only took 3 hours to get through 🙂 . The officials pretty much let everyone through and then look at the European plated cars, take a bit of a nap, and then wave you on.
A lot of the bigger service stations here all have really good food, we got a tagine just out of Tangier all cooked outside in front of us.
We headed for Rabat for the first stop. Bit of a mission as Google Maps or Booking.com isn’t really an option unless you want to spend $100 a second. And the Satnav actually gets a bit shit in some of these towns.
But eventually, through a dirty windscreen, we arrived in Homeland.
Malaga is the place we decided to base before heading to the ferry for Africa. I arrived on Easter Saturday to find pretty much most of the city shut down and roads closed. This is all for the parades which are huge.
After a bit of drama finding a park (I got the roof stuck in a carpark.. apparently 1.9M Height Limit doesn’t include lights and sprinklers), a few fluorescent lights and an angry parking attendant later, who made me pay the 30 cents to get out, I got to the hotel.
The receptionist said not to bother going outside that night as it would be really busy, just outside the hotel door. This is what was going on outside.
And it just got better as the night went on.
This was just one part of town, it went all the way through to a main centre with seats installed like for a football match, which you have no hope of getting near, where all the people and floats gather together for the final ceremony.
I’m pretty pleased I went outside!
Who knew Don Quixote was a delusional 50 year old man on a journey through Spain on some kind of quest..
This is Tembleque where I stopped for a horrid quiche thing and coffee for breakfast, and then saw all these Don Quixote statues. Turns out it is one of the sites mentioned in the book and nearby is where he tried to fight a windmill.
It also has this incredible “Plaza de Toros” which opened in 1653 to be both a traditional bull fighting ring and a town square.