We finally left rabat on the 8th dec and ...

Trip Start Oct 01, 2002
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Saturday, December 14, 2002

We finally left Rabat on the 8th Dec and headed for Casablanca where we stayed for three nights. The campsite was okay but unfortunately situated right next door to a mosque. Each morning at five we were rudely awakened by what truly sounded like someone was bellowing in your ear as loud as they could and then louder still. The call to prayer was so noisy it was unbelievable. All in all we found Casablanca to be fairly unremarkable. As the largest city in Morocco it was modern (at least by Moroccan standards) and didn't have much of an atmosphere to the place. We did the touristy thing and went to Rick's café as in the film Casablanca. It's in the Hyatt hotel and drinks were extortionately expensive so we shared a small beer between us! The film was showing in the background and all in all it was just a money spinner for the tourists. We went for a walk afterwards and saw the Grand Mosque, the third largest religious monument in the world. It's built on the beach right into the sea and is pretty impressive. The taxi ride home also proved eventful as the taxi driver had absolutely no clue as to where the campsite was. He asked us which way to turn at every junction and we had no idea. After drawing a tent on a sheet of toilet paper we got the message across just as a small pack of dogs came chasing after the cab, barking and jumping about. It was all very surreal.

Will and John returned from town the next evening with tales of having been in the dock area where many 'ladies' were trying to accompany them for the hour but in general it was a cool place. So off we went and managed to find a thoroughly respectable but expensive bar in the area. It could have been anywhere really so we moved over the road which was not a good idea. We walked into a dimly lit pub which looked as though it belonged in London in the late 1800s and there were many more ladies of ill repute so we made a very sharp exit.

Leaving Casablanca, we stayed in a small remote village called Romani on the way to Volubilis. The local policemen were welcoming and when we asked where we could stay, they told us to park outside the police station for the night. So we slept rough on the truck with dogs barking, Sophie giggling, Will snoring, and various other noises allowing us about one hours sleep the whole night. We arrived in Volubilis the next day, which is basically some large and well preserved Roman ruins. There are many ancient mosaics and it was very impressive. There are people buried into the walls facing Mecca, the skeletons of which can be seen as you wander around. We saw sunset there, which cast colours and shadows onto the ruins and was probably the best time of day to go. Sian also saw her first shooting star in the campsite we stayed at that night. The nights are so clear here, the sky is unbelievable with so many stars and you can see your way by moonlight. Can't wait till the moon can't be seen as there will be even more stars.

Our next stop was Fes where we stayed for two nights in the Youth Hostel for the same price as camping, which was far out of town. The only drawback was that we had a 10p.m curfew. We headed for the old medina and after walking through the mid medina in circles three times whilst trying to find the entrance to the old medina, we relented to the constant hassle by guides. John and Will accepted the offer of an older guy who admitted he wasn't an official guide but would show us the way for a small fee. We asked him to take us to the tannery from which we would find our way back. He pointed out the sights on the way and when we got to the tannery he explained it was closed but would open in 2 hours. Kev was immediately suspicious as the tannery had no signs and looked like an ordinary house. Nevertheless, Will paid him and we waited in a nearby café for the tannery to open. We took a short wander when a young guy came up to us and explained that this wasn't the right place at all and we weren't anywhere near the old medina. We had well and truly been had! Despite all the warnings of faux guides we were sucked in. When we eventually found the old medina, we found it to be pretty amazing with narrow, winding streets and smoke curling up from the small stalls which barbeque meat or peanuts. There were apothecaries and stalls which just had bloodied sheep's heads lined up outside. The tannery was really interesting and has used the same methods for centuries but it really stank. We saw the area where they wash and cure the skins and the ingredients used in the leather making process includes cow urine, pigeon poo and various animal fats and brains - delightful... We also saw a carpet making place where they gave us the hard sell. The number one rule is to never ask the price of anything, not even if you're really interested, until right before you leave. Otherwise they don't take no for an answer and demand your best price.

Two guys staying at the hostel decided to join the truck for a while. Alex is a French Canadian, small and chilled out. He's going to Burkina Faso and plans to stay with us for a few weeks. Daniel is an American and also really easy going and likeable. He will only be with us till Xmas. Three girls also decided to join us from the hostel. Marlies is Swiss (nice but can be a bit dizzy), she plans to stay a while, and Sam and Jen are two young Americans who will stay for a week.

Anyway, that's all for now,
Take Care all,

Kev and Siân.
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