We were on a guided tour with Dessert Detours, who specialise in escorted tours of Morocco, mostly for those with camper vans. The tour we were on was our second with Desert Detours and was called the Discovery Tour – the idea being we would travel deeper into the countryside, see how the Berbers lived and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Rif and Atlas Mountains. Many of the Berber clans were nomadic, moving their sheep and goats through the Mountains. Ray, an Englishman now living in Spain, was the boss and had been in the business for many years and knew and loved the country and its people. Hamid was a Berber, he had a wife and child at home.
Moroccan driving had a style of its own – suicidal. We often had to slow right down to allow an overtaking car to pull in front of us to prevent it colliding the oncoming traffic. We had to keep our our speed right down because of the many potholes in the roads. Except for the main highways, most of the roads were single carriageway with dusty margins on each side so slow moving traffic could move over to allow faster traffic cars to pass. Donkeys with their backs loaded high would use the road edge. We were constantly overtaken by clapped out Mercedes that billowed black exhaust fumes as they struggled up the steep inclines.
In the towns at busy road junctions, police were often directing the traffic – fully uniformed and armed even in the heat of the day. Outside the towns we saw uniformed police carrying out speed checks, the senior officers were often sitting under a nearby tree whilst their (younger) colleague sweated in the heat holding a heavy radar gun. Occasionally we came across road blocks manned by armed police who had used two stingers to reduce the dual carriageway to single file; as tourists we were always beckoned through with a smile and a wave.
Away from the larger towns, people by the roadside would stop and wave or give the thumbs up as we drove by. We particularly enjoyed the little school children who would jump up and down and wave. We felt quite important driving along acknowledging their greetings with a regal wave. Whenever we stopped people would come and say hello or just stand and watch us. Occasionally they would ask for money or cigarettes.