What we miss from Morocco
We were very happy to set foot on the African continent for the first time in our lives – exactly Morocco. Many people warned us about it. Today – after we have travelled this country – we cannot find anything that is really dangerous. But still the country has not caught us.
One thing right up front. Yeah, when we were in Morocco, two northern women were murdered. And that even not far from our former location. Yet it is by no means more dangerous in this country than in a large European city.
If you read the newspapers, you can read about a murder every day. And that happens just around the corner. Be that in Zurich, St. Gallen, Frankfurt, Mainz, Bonn, Paris or wherever.
- “Corpse lay covered with blood in the Feldmark murder mystery of Fatemeh B”: Source: Picture from 18.2.2019
- “Married couple murdered and walled in.” Source: Spiegel online from 18.2.2019
- “Murder in Dornbirn brings back memories”: Source: NöN.at from 13.2.2019
- “Murder in Aarau. Police arrest suspect.” Source: nfz.ch from 14.2.2019
are just senseless panic-mongering by the media and should be considered much more distanced and critical. Don’t forget – this has happened – at home just around the corner!
We miss our friends
We met on 17 March 2018. These are Yvonne and Guido with their Landcruiser (www.travely.ch) and Sybille and Herrmann with their Iveco Daily (www.d-hai.ch) At that time we realized that all six of us wanted to travel Europe first and spend the winter months in the south. Thus a group was formed which had the plan to spend Christmas 2018 in the Moroccan desert.
We managed to be in the desert for Christmas and celebrate. But we have experienced even more together. During a trip for six of us from Dades over into the Todra valley we first stood at a beautiful place at about 1500 meters above sea level. We did not know at that time what was to come. Unfortunately – and in retrospect this turned out to be the absolutely right decision – Sybille became ill and so Sybille and Herrmann decided to go back down to the valley and cure the flu.
Gaining confidence quickly
So Yvonne and Guido and us Dubu’s took off. The route is shown as a street in the official road maps with a number. Whereby paper is just patient and does not care about influences of the weather. Two or three months before, heavy rainfall had occurred and washed away the road just like that. So we had to start the trip to the pass in dried out riverbeds. The trip up to 2700 meters above sea level took about 5 hours. When we reached the top we agreed that this was an exhausting trip and we discussed whether we really wanted to go forward or turn back. The next morning, we decided together that we would go forward – without knowing exactly what was still ahead of us. On the Navi it was to be seen that the road shows reversals at several places. And as it is in the mountains, it goes steeply up on one side and steeply down on the other side. Just stupid…
Then came this one spot. The Landcruiser, smaller and lighter than the Duro, drove up. So Guido drove up – and he lost his cool while driving. A right turn of roughly estimated 110° to 120° which was washed out by the rain, sloped to the right and the road was too narrow to be able to make a wide swing. Moreover, in the middle of the curve still led into a depression. So – right turn, washed out at the tightest radius, steeply sloping there, on the left no possibility to swing out and in the middle of it another depression. Pretty much the stupidest thing you can come across. Guido started the ride after we had made an agreement. Slowly forward… swing out… into the curve… at the front right the vehicle tips over into the depression… at the rear left it goes up… slowly further forward. In the narrowest part of the curve we put heavy stones underneath to give the wheels more grip. Still a little forward… then briefly backward… further out… forward… underlay more stones and sand plates. The front right wheel is now hanging one meter high in the air as the Toyota’s entanglement has reached its limit. Drops of sweat form on all fours on the forehead. Slowly forward, a bit more, a bit more and then… squeak… the grey water tank has touched down at the upper corner of the depression. Shit – from now on it’s all forward. Slowly continue and out of the bend into the road. Fortunately the damage to the tank was only a small dent.
But now the Duro. Wheelbase 3,888 meters which is just a little bit more than the Landcruiser. But we weigh almost two tons more. However, interlocking almost without end. I pull out as far as I can before I pull into the curve and go into the dip. Slowly I glide forward. Guido gives signs at the front – turn more left, now more right. I did the same thing to him. And then I’m in the dip. The right rear tire pushes the stones away – no wonder with the weight. If there were no stones, the wheel would be over the precipice. We add even more stones, sand plates for larger distribution of the support. I was able to go backwards just once before and correct the track – that was all I could do. We discuss the situation and agree that if Guido sees the rear right wheel slipping away he will shout “SPEED” and I’ll go full throttle hoping to have enough power and momentum on the other three edges. The advantage of the Duro is that in many situations all four wheels have ground contact due to the De Dion chassis. And it succeeds… pure excitement. We are all relieved and happy and nothing bad happened. This story will remain in our memory forever. Such experiences give confidence in another person. I am very happy I was allowed to make this experience with Guido.
PS: Then it turned out that we should have solved Dubu’s multi-use subscription for the sand plates of Yvonne and Guido. The Duro is enormously all-terrain, but it does not like fine and deep sand. Now we also get sand plates. But that’s another story. 🙂
We miss the peace of the desert
I think this is the only thing we really miss from Morocco. The peace in the desert is fabulously relaxing. No engine noise, no train with its wheels screeching, no aircraft noise, no talk and chatter, no birdsong, no lawnmower from the neighbour … just silence. Ok, the tinnitus is easier to hear and therefore not so pleasant. 🙂
This calmness gives the soul the necessary recreation in our rushed working world, which is under constant pressure.
We miss the Moroccans
The Moroccans are friendly and helpful – at least that is the general tenor about this people. We have had the same experience and the much praised friendliness and helpfulness has, in our opinion, always been presented with a business ulterior motive. A Moroccan approaches me friendly and with an outstretched hand to greet me. A nice gesture – polite, friendly, greeting with an open mind, curious – that’s the obvious. As soon as I extend my hand to greet him and we shake it, he smiles and asks: “ça va? I reply, “Bien merci, et vous?” And then the kindness is usually over. The next sentence is usually, “I have good carpets. Come to my shop and look around.” The people on the street, on the other hand, are even simpler knitted. Maybe because of the few French words they know. “Bonbons, Stilo, Dirham” is the order of words they know and are articulated the same all over the country from east to west, north to south.
The desert lives
Imagine – you are standing in the middle of nowhere. You have a five-hour drive behind you. A strenuous ride through dried out riverbeds, over gravel roads, steep slopes, narrow passages demand the highest concentration from you. You have reached your point at 2700 meters above sea level where you want to spend the night. You enjoy the peace and quiet, the breathtaking view reaching far into the horizon. You can go down and relax yourself after the ride. Peace returns… an atmosphere of relaxation and serenity covers you like a warming coat. „Bonjour, ça va? Bonbon, Stilo, Dirham?“ WHAAAT??? Am I crazy, am I hallucinating? On 2700 MüM one comes along with the words heard a hundred times. Your gums are flapping like a bagpipe with holes. No, that can’t be it. With all the kindness, politeness and also good intentions. I don’t need that.
A story, you think? No, fact. All over the country… nonstop, there’s one coming from somewhere. If someone tells you the desert is dead, go to Morocco in the desert – it’s alive. But we did indeed find places where we were really alone and could enjoy the above-mentioned peace and quiet.
We miss the Moroccan food
With the idea that the Moroccan food should be a firework for the palate because of the many spices one knows from the spice stand motives of postcards, we were looking forward to the food. Disappointment and disillusionment quickly set in. Tajine and couscous on every menu, in every restaurant up and down the country. And not even tasty or diversely spiced. They all taste the same, prepared with the same ingredients.
Then we also snuck into a backyard kitchen in the hope that where the locals eat, the tajine or couscous is really deliciously spiced. Nope… same thing. What we will certainly miss are the masses of olives – wow, these things are delicious.
We miss Ali Nassir from Zagora
What is Ali Nassir? Not what, who! Ali is well known in the off-road scene, or at least to those who have driven through the desert and made it to Zagora. He and his team are mechanics (Ali Nassir on FB). They have a solution for everything and any damage. And if there is no solution, then they solve the no-solution.
After the desert drive from Merzouga to Zagora – about 250 kilometers of sand, pebble and gravel roads – we stopped at Ali and basically just wanted to have the oil changed and lubricated. But because our Duro only has a power-consuming tilting device, we asked Ali if he could install a hydraulic tilting device. Our cabin weighs around 600 kilos and until then we had to tilt it manually and with great force. At first he denied, but then a thought must have occurred to him and he made some phone calls. After a few phone calls he told us to come back tomorrow at 10 am. He has a tilting device which is then with him from Casablanca to measure. The next day we stood there, the tipper in front of us. It was measured and discussed and then Ali made us an offer. For this price we could not say no. Now we have a working hydraulic tipping device. The intervertebral discs thank us for it.
Maybe we had too high expectations or just a too romantic idea of the desert and Morocco. The landscape and the peace and quiet we found were certainly unique and fulfilled our expectations.
But the mostly pushy behavior, the eternal “I want to sell you something”, the monotonous food does not move us much and will surely not lead us back to Morocco so quickly.
What was very good and I recommend to everybody who travels to Morocco is to look for a parking place immediately after the crossing at most one hour after arrival in the port Tanger-Med. We have found a sensational place. At the Restaurant Argovia (Yes right, Argovia – like the canton of Aargau and its radio station) in Tetouan You can park here and let yourself be pampered in the restaurant at the same time. The kitchen is really good.
The most beautiful experience was – here I speak for the Dubu’s – the trust of Yvonne and Guido and Sybille and Hermann. Help and support came from everyone – whether it was in conversations, discussions or in dangerous situations. We’ll miss her.
Did you like the report? You can find some more under the menu on the road.