A Travellerspoint blog

A Day Trip

Obviously not a day trip from where I live in the South-east of England.

I expect if it was a long enough day and you could get a flight into and out of Marrakesh on the same day that could be possible. I understand that with the correct amount of money you can get a flight from London with Easyjet. Whether or not you could have enough time on the ground to make it worthwhile I haven't followed up on.

No. This trip was done by motorcycle. My partner (at the time), Audrey, were in Spain for along summer break. She was riding her own Yamaha XJ900F and I was on a monster of a Suzuki called a Cavalcade. At the time a 1400cc motorcycle was considered enormous. The bike was Suzukis attempt to make a touring bike like Honda's long running and still produced GoldWing. In many respects the 1987 Cavalcade was far superior. It's 1400cc V4 engine was very refined, it has a lot of luggage space and came with a Clarion stereo radio/cassette in the dummy fuel tank.

It was so superior that it stayed locked up on the campsite near Tarifa in Spain and we both went on the Yamaha!

The plan was to go across on the Tarifa boat to Tanger but in the end the service from Algeciras to Ceuta was cheaper and more frequent. So we took that. We went early to maximise the day. Back then the boat was very poorly laid out and by the time they boarded us every square centimetre of seating had been taken up by Moroccans heading home. The car deck full of overloaded pickups and panel vans as well.

Once on dry land again we looked at the map. In a day we thought we could loop around the north and return to Ceuta via Tanger. The paper map we had made it about 100 miles in total. A great "taster" to riding outside Europe. A bit exotic - Africa.

In fact Audrey had been many times before in her summer holidays as lecturer at an HE college in North London. Not on the bike but flying and then staying on a campsite on the Atlantic coast run by a Dutch couple. Ideal for a woman travelling on her own.

It took about 2 minutes to get out of Spain. Ceuta although on the mainland of Africa is Spanish. A sort of Gibraltar! Ironic really when you think of the constant hassles between Spain and the UK over that small rock.

Getting into Morocco took considerably longer. The old disappearing passports routine, in one window back out loads later. The handwritten ledger where the bike's details were written (incorrectly as it happened) in a large bound book. And then we were off over an hour later. We headed down the coast with the Mediterranean on the left. The road signs were in the local script and also in our alphabet. Other signs in French. At the time I spoke schoolboy French and Audrey next to none!

One stop at Fnideq to check the map and see where we were. We also managed to get a drink of water here. Ours in the top box was already lukewarm. Remembering what we had read on the boat, check the seal on the bottle is not broken..... We carried on southwards to Tetouan. A much larger place with what looked like a walled centre.

Before we had got far we were scoped by a youth on a moped. Ahmed (!) he said. He would show us around the souk for a small fee. He spoke good English. It was his job after all......

We decided to take him up on it. He led us to a gateway into the city and we parked the bikes. I locked the jackets and helmets on. The bike would be safe he said. The attendant was an old man with a big stick, would see to it. Pay him when we get back.

Off we went. We saw all kinds of shops selling leather, spices in large boxes and tooled metals. Then the mosque in the square and then we arrived for "tea" at a carpet shop. I guessed something like this and we willingly went along with the charade. The mint tea was fabulous or was that the carpets?

I had the camera at this time and so what pictures I took are generally in focus. More of that later...

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And lots of carpet. More carpets than you could ever wish to see, all unrolled and piled on top of each other. The price coming down and down with every refusal to buy. Changes of colours?

How will be get it home on a motorcycle? No problems. They will post.... And they brought out a large folder from across the globe where buyers thanked them for the superb Berber carpet and it's delivery from the US to New Zealand and wherever you could think of.....

By now I was suffering from too much mint tea and carpet fatigue. When they realised they weren't going to get a sale, Ahmed took us back to the bike. It was only a short walk but I expect it would have taken us hours to escape. He was a bit pissed at losing his commission so we paid him the equiv of £2 and the old man watching the bike 20p (a fifth of a £)

That had eaten up (not the we had eaten!) too many hours of our trip. We set off for Tangier. It was only about 60 kms but the roads at that time were quite poor and it took well over an hour. We arrived in Tangiers and stopped at a restaurant near the centre of the "new" city and as we had very little time before the return ferry, We ate a quick late lunch washed down with Coca Cola.

Then we rode back along the coast road to Ceuta. At one point we arrived near a village where the road had disappeared into a sink hole. There were trucks teetering on the edge. The only way around it was to go "off road" and ride across the soft sand. I did this solo with the bike sinking in the sand. In the end I had to go through the edge of the "bomb hole", aided by some of the truck drivers pushing, and worse, pulling.

We made it. At the Moroccan side of the border we had another long wait. They took the paper for the bike from us and our passports. One of the unarmed guys in uniform said we could go faster with his help. I gave him all my local currency and we were in Spain in two minutes..... that cost about another £2.

We had a snack on the almost empty boat and a snooze. It had been a long day.

These are some random photos. The ones Audrey took were useless. She was only used to a Kodak Instamatic and didn't realise you had to focus an SLR!

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Then a long ride to Tarifa along the coast in the dark.....

P.S. If you have read the entry, please feel free to comment.....

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:36 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

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