Ali Baba, visas and bush camping

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
Trip End Dec 16, 2012

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Friday, November 18, 2011

When travelling you have your ups and downs. On our epic expedition of Africa, we knew this would be so true. We expected not to live in luxury, but what we didn't know was Ali Baba and I would experience some of the not so ideal situations, while having a blast all the same. This was Morocca and we were living the dream, me, Ali Baba and the tension of visa and bush camping. Bring it on!
So you may be wondering who Ali Baba is? Well, all you have to do is take a look at Shaun wearing a jalabah and admire his extremly bushy beard and you can see the resemblance.
When exploring the awesome maze of little windey streets that is Fez's medina, we were greeted by friendly locals and all the locals liked to call Shaun, 'Ali Baba'. Sometimes this was great when we were trying to get a bargain on souvenirs, but for me, sometimes it was just annoying. I resided to the fact that in Morocco, Shaun would be now know as 'Ali Baba'.
We had a blast in Fez, shopping, eating snails from a street stall, participating a touristy Moroccan night and digging into the local cuisine of tagine and cous cous. Ali Baba was loving the attention and I was loving my bargain purchases from the various specialty shops we went to. Ali Baba even got bargains, a dagger fit for Ali Baba, only costing 700 dirhams, after the asking price of 4000 dirhams. Bargain!
Next stop was the Moroccan capital, Rabat. When we reflect on our time in Rabat, some tour group members would say 'it was great', others would say 'I f#&king hate Rabat'. But for Ali Baba and me, it was a time of frustration, enjoyment and unhygienic happiness.
First to the frustration. One word 'VISAS'. Yes this was our main aim in Rabat, to get our Mauritanian, Mali and Burkina Faso Visas. The first day we parked the truck not far from the Mauritanian embassy and waited for 5 long, boring hours, with nowhere to go! Yes this did not suit Ali Baba one bit, and before you ask, yes he did go a bit psycho, with a small case of truck fever. After this long wait, we were disappointed to find out that the embassy would not be issuing our visa until the next day, and would not be issuing the 4 American passengers a visa. Sucks for them!
While waiting for our Mauritainian visas, Ali Baba and 1 wife, and tour friends set off to explore Rabat. Not long into our explorations, Ali Baba was henna raped. This term meaning, local henna artists drawing poo coloured henna onto a unaware tourist like Ali Baba and demanding money. 5 dirham (0.70 AUD) was all the henna rapist got, but Ali Baba was fuming and washed it off straight away.
Mauritanian visa received, Mali visa submitted with success and all that was left was the Burkina Faso visa. Without too much hassle, we got this visa on our 5th day in Rabat. To be fair Rabat wasn't too bad, but there wasn't much to do, no wonder some people left saying 'I f#%king hate Rabat.
While in Rabat we got to experience our first dose of bush camping. We were camping in the bush outside of Rabat. Each day we would build a wicked fire from firewood we collected from around our campsite. Each morning we would wake up and shower using baby wipes. We would continue to get dirty while we packed up our tents each day that was wet with morning dew. Our bush camping even became a novelty for the local police, who found the need to come and babysit us a couple of nights in a row.
5 days without a shower, electricity and having to dig in the ground to take a poop! Sounds fun hey? Not really, on the 5th morning we were much in need of a great shower and for Ali Baba, he was in need of a good shampoo to his hair and beard and a good scrub on his manky feet.
There were benefits to bush camping. Firstly, for me I began to notice the workout I was giving my quad muscles as I would have to squat behind a tree, concentrating on not getting any splash back on my already dirty clothes. Secondly, Ali Baba was in his element when contributing to the rage of our camp fire. And thirdly, we did have a blast camping in the middle of nowhere, eating and drinking around the campfire and each day returning to the same spot we called home.
Bush camping was a blast, but we were more then pleased to head away from Rabat to the city of Meknes. We were camping again, but this time at a camping ground that has showers, real toilets and electricty. Woo hoo, even Ali Baba was excited to finally smell pretty after a good shampoo and scrub.
So far Morocco has been a blast. With Ali Baba in fine form, visas in our passports and bush camping a success, we were living the dream. So off I go, headed for Casablanca and Marrakesh, with Ali Baba by my side. Bring it on!
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