The urge to leave Morocco and return to familiar territory in Europe was getting stronger. The sight of many families with young children enjoying that rubbish filled beach highlighted the difference in perception between many Moroccans and the visiting European tourist. We just could not understand why they didn’t clean things up, put a bit of bleach down the toilets or replace a broken shower pipe or tap. It was as if they just didn’t notice these things.
And yet the Moroccan people were warm and kind and very proud of their otherwise beautiful country. Time and time again we were helped in a way you rarely see in Europe, a shopkeeper would leave his store and walk with us to another shop to find what we wanted; a passerby would go into a busy street and hail a taxi for us; wherever we went we were treated with great courtesy, folk would wave as we drove by and men (but not women) would approach us in the street, shake hands and would engage us in conversation in English. The women never spoke to us, except for a very shy “Bonjour”.
We tried to be as generous as we could, especially in the poorer south. Sometimes in a town we encountered beggars, often an older woman with a physical disability. On one occasion, when I handed over a few coins to a beggar, she took the money and grabbed my hand at the same time and tried to kiss it. I am ashamed to say I recoiled. Another time I gave money to some poor creature lying begging on the pavement. The hand shot out, grabbed the proffered note which disappeared rapidly under her robes. She didn’t look at me or say anything, she barely moved. Reminded me of those battery operated money boxes where the hand comes out and grabs the coin!
The following morning we drove to Tangier Med, the ferry port for Spain. We arrived at the port at 1.30pm and caught the 4pm ferry. Whilst we waited we had plenty of time to observe the bizarre way the port operated; we were ushered along corridors of concrete bollards from one end of the port to the other and back again for no apparent reason. When we finally arrived at the “check in” there was a crowd of men (touts) who were jostling to take our tickets and passports to check us in; later they demanded payment for their “help”. It was impossible to tell who was an official and who were touts, a uniform or badge would have made things clearer.
We watched a single armed policeman standing at the top of the ramp of an incoming ferry, slowly checking the paperwork of each vehicle disembarking, thus causing a huge delay getting the ferry unloaded. Before we embarked, the inside of our van was searched by a young policeman who seemed more interested in admiring our camper van than looking for drugs or illegals. Then we had the van checked by an X-ray procedure where a Mercedes truck with X-ray equipment scanned an assembled row of vehicles. The truck had a driver but there was no one inside the truck to check the information gathered. All these procedures took over an hour. Our ferry was an hour late departing.
Once back in Europe we drove to our “home” campsite, La Bella Vista at Manilva. A late supper at a beach café just below the campsite restored our equilibrium.