It was an easy run from Cáceres to Algeciras. The weather was warm and sunny and the roads were not busy. By mid afternoon we had purchased a ferry ticket to Tanger Med, Morocco, (€200 return) leaving the following morning.
We stocked up on groceries in Carrefours before retiring for the evening to Casa Bernardo’s where we parked for the night and enjoyed a late supper in the restaurant. Most of our fellow diners were lorry drivers enjoying football on the television whilst eating their dinner.
Moroccan time was behind Europe so we gained an hour when we disembarked.. The Moroccan immigration procedure went as swiftly as could be expected. We watched one unfortunate traveller having to remove everything from his overloaded van for inspection.
Our passports were checked on four separate occasions, our vehicle documents were scrutinised and an armed officer even searched the inside of the van – in the friendliest possible way. He was very jovial and said, “Ah, you have beer”. “Is this good coffee?” “Do you have any guns?” “Ha ha, what no Kalashnikovs?”. We gave the appropriate answers and were soon on our way.
We stopped at a fuel station and had our van washed whilst we had lunch. The wash cost £8, which the washing man explained would go to the garage owner so we gave him another £4 for himself. Sometimes they ask you to “Pay with your heart” which can be even more expensive.
After lunch we set off for the Rif Mountains and the town of Chefchaouen, 70 miles south. We drove through several modern seaside resorts along the Mediterranean coast, complete with marina, apartment blocks, water park and miles of paved promenades with fancy street lighting and neatly planted with hundreds of palm trees. The cosmetic effect was rather spoiled by the waste land on the far side of the road being festooned with rubbish. Eventually we left the manicured beach area and the roads narrowed as we began to climb into the mountain.