UK to The Gambia By Road
Stage three: Morocco to Western Sahara
14th June 2018
A mixed day today. Started well with our new traveling buddy and a smooth crossing to Tangier, Morocco. No problems at the border. Took about an hour but border officials very pleasant and 10 days insurance a reasonable 60 Euros. Made good time to Casablanca, where we are now sat in Rick's Cafe Bar enjoying a cold one.
On the down side, we are gutted to be saying goodbye to Angela Ferguson tomorrow morning! Having gambled on being able to get her yellow fever jab here, the gamble hasn't paid off and she's heading back to Spain. We'll miss her cheery outlook and undoubtable spirit of adventure. Going to enjoy our first and last night on the road together before she catches the early train.
14th June 2018, by Angela
First night and last night I'm afraid of my road trip to The Gambia. Damn you yellow fever jab!! It's been short but sweet! Xx
Angela had not had a yellow fever vaccination, a requirement in Mauritania and Senegal and possibly The Gambia. (The information is confusing so please make your own judgement and follow advice from your Health Centre) Hoping to have it in Morocco it was then discovered that it was not effective until 10 days later. Again seeking advice from The Gambia tourism Forum, many people had never been asked for evidence of the certificates, (as was the eventual case for Dave and Vic) others had, or had to pay bribery fees to be allowed to continue. In the end, Angela decided that her health was not worth risking it.
If you want official information, Please click here for YELLOW FEVER INFORMATION
15th June 2018
What a great day today. This is why we travel!
So...Where to start? Well, we still have Angela Ferguson with us which is great, but it remains to be seen for how long.
Having slept in the middle of Casablanca, we made an early start heading South along the less travelled coast road towards Jadida, then Safi. Nice to be by the sea, even though there's no shortage of hideous industrial monstrosities along the way. Found a nice place to take a late breakfast of coffee, biscuits and apricots.
Just before we reached Safi we picked up Elfallah Oussama and his cousin Abdella who were hitching down to Essouria (on the way to our planned destination of Agadir). Really nice people that we will all stay in touch with for sure.
Arrived in Essouria and had our first proper daytime feed up! Crisps, biscuits, fruit and bread and cheese had been about the only choices during Ramadan. Today it was Tajines and excellent grill meats. By handy coincidence, the cafe had the Morocco v Iran game on - shame that Morocco lost in the last minutes.
Wandered round Essouria looking to change money and get passport photos taken for the border crossings. Oussama tour guided us around this beautiful city. Ancient fortified city walls, shopping in the captivating old medina, chilling by the beach and generally loving the whole vibe!
Further South tomorrow for what might be our last night in Morocco if things work out.
Thanks everyone for the comments re yellow fever certs. Watch this space for Angela's decision! Also, for those of you planning to do the trip, don't waste your time with an Orange sim card - useless outside Tangier!
16th June 2018
A day of two halves! Started well with a really nice winding drive towards Agadir. Stopped a couple of times to negotiate with road side traders for some local honey, almond butter and argan oil. Picked up another very friendly hitch-hiker and managed to get caught speeding! Yes, I know lots of you warned me!
Still, it wasn't so bad. 30 Euros, reduced to 20 just because we were nice and friendly with him! Keeping a better look out for police from now on.
Agadir is Ok. Looks quite touristy, but we didn't see much of it to make a fair judgement. Changed some money, bought a wheel brace and some Radweld (car radiator repair stuff, just in case), spare fuel can and stuff to put into the tank to improve the octane of the dodgy Mauritanian fuel.
Spent the afternoon sorting plane tickets homefor Angela, which was a huge faff! Long story but all sorted in the end. Really sad to say goodbye, and so difficult for her to make the choice, but it's done now so that's that.
A bit behind schedule and what looks like a good road ahead of us, so planning to push on in the dark for an hour or two, so long as it feels safe.
Limited photos to post today as some still on Vic's phone and others on my GoPro.
17th June 2018
Another brilliant day!
After yesterday's post we tried to push on in the dark but narrow roads, big trucks, light drizzle and old windscreen wipers made it too dangerous so we stopped again after a few kilometres.
Made an early start and covered some distance before we stopped for coffee.
Landscape started to change as we passed Tiznit and continued towards Tantan. Camels, sand dunes and shipwrecks as we approached Western Sahara off the N1 on the smaller coastal road.
Having pulled off the road to check out another shipwreck, we were invited to share a traditional tea ceremony with a lovely Saharan family. Thank you so much Jamila for your delightful company and the gift of a beautiful local dress for Vic. Now enjoying omelette and more tea in Laayoune Plage while we watch Brazil v Switzerland.
Might be a tough day tomorrow as MapsMe says we have 7 hours to Dakhla and we've been told that the road is bad.
The joy of arriving in the Western Sahara!
17th June 2018, by Vic
Wow I'm having such an adventure! I really enjoyed Angela's company over the last few days and was sad to see her go yesterday. I'm having one amazing day after another. Today seeing our first big golden sand dune appear out of the desert against the blue sky was an awesome sight. We had made it to the Sahara! The wild camels and shipwrecks were also highlights. But best of all was meeting a Saharan family at the Beach. Jamila spoke excellent English and invited us to join them. They were a lovely warm family and it was so interesting to hear about life in the Sahara.
So as a woman I should not speak to any man! For a woman, I can greet with a hug and kiss on each cheek. If I want to respect their culture I should also cover my hair. I had a go at making green tea. In the Sahara, tea is even more important than food. The tea ceremony takes time. When you start the tea it's important to stay for 3 rounds (same as attaya in The Gambia). The first round is strong like life, the second is like love, the third and final round is soft like death. When we had to go I was really touched when the family gifted me the local dress that I had been wearing. We had lots of fun with them and I'm so grateful to them all.
Experiences like this are what travelling is all about for me. I find good people in many corners of the world and it's always a special experience to be welcomed and introduced to a new culture by local people.
What an amazing day! Just finishing up with a bit of dinner and the Brazil v's Switzerland game. Pleased to report to all my Swiss family that the locals here in Western Sahara are all rooting for the Swiss!
Can't upload any pics but check out Dave's post from today.