15th – 18th May 2013
Looking forward to possibly arriving in North Africa within some kind of reasonable time frame after the breakdowns (both mental and Peggy physical), the raves and the huge distances, we woke up to council people strimming the grass around Peggy still in Spain, rubbed our eyes free of tiredness and completed our schlep to the ferry.
We got to the port with relative ease and the ferry ticket office even honoured our paid for tickets that we hadn’t been able to use with the breakdown!
We were at the port in plenty of time for our ferry and then spent the next hour driving around trying to find where to get on the damn thing! The road signs were very unclear and eventually we had to stop several times and ask directions!
We finally found ‘our ferry’ and sat in the van in the crowd (NOT in any way shape or form an orderly queue!) of cars waiting to board. We waited 2 hours, of course we made use of the time, made some lunch, read a book, did some blogging all the while keeping an eye on our stand still ‘queue’. When it eventually came to time to board we waited until last to get on (as Alex hates getting anywhere early) and as we handed our ticket over the man told us we were waiting for the wrong ferry and sent us somewhere else.
As we drove towards where he had pointed we watched a ferry pull away from the dock. Our hearts sank and we were sure we had missed it after all! I shouted at Alex and he shouted at me, both trying to blame the other but then we were waved forward by another man and told to sit in HIS queue for HIS ferry so we did as we were told. Another hour queueing and finally we were on ‘A’ ferry, hopefully to Morocco.
The crossing was supposed to take one hour but took at least 2 and a half. The boat was full of loud Moroccans shouting at one another and seemingly always arguing. As we had been to Marrakech before, we luckily knew that this was not the case. The Moroccans are very loud and seem quite angry but they are really just chatting and are genuinely quite friendly people. We found a quiet corner for the crossing and read our books.
Once back on solid ground and THANKFULLY in Morocco, we had to get ourselves and Peggy through customs. There was absolutely no system in place whatsoever and the only way to get an official to look at your vehicle it seemed was to shout in his face and demand he do it immediately! Well, we are British and are not used to such behaviour so Alex just shadowed the poor man until he took pity on him and came to check us over.
Finally, we were on the road…in Morocco…with no map…and not a word of French or Arabic in our heads! Luckily there was a very friendly policeman at the first roundabout and we asked him for the direction to the coast and he obliged. Next we stopped at a gas station and bought the very last map for sale! We were really in luck that day!
We were worn our with our day of waiting and only got 100km before we stopped at a service station for the night.
We had made arrangements to meet our friends and wedding photographers, Michael and Andrea of Bohemian Weddings in Morocco. They were eager to shoot a wedding for us and after meeting them and learning of their love of all things quirky and campery we all decided that Morocco was the place!
We were due to meet them in Essaouira and made our way there through the north of the most northerly country in Africa. As we drove and enjoyed the scenery around us we realised that the Moroccans are farmers. We watched as they carefully sowed their seeds by hand, watched over their fields in small makeshift shelters and stooped to harvest their crops.
Shepherds watch their small flocks of sheep, goats or cows grazing in the long grasses wearing the traditional dress called a djellaba. It is a loose, long gown with a pointed hood and worn with pointy slippers.
Donkeys help with the back breaking work and carrying people to and from their fields and not a patch of land is not being worked.
As we hit the coast and the scenery changed dramatically. We finally hit Essaouira and started to plan meeting Andrea and Michael. I pulled into a parking space facing the beach and suddenly see them walking towards us!
We hugged our hi’s and all jumped into Peggy as the parking attendant was getting grumpy that we weren’t staying and together we moved on to the parking spot that Michael and Andrea had sussed out for us when they had arrived a few days earlier…on time!
We parked up for 24 hours and found that we could even stay the night in Peggy there! We were sorted and excited to get some food and hear about our friends trip so far.
We went over to their Riad (the name of a house like hotel in Morocco), met the owner who was a fellow traveller and adventurer and hijacked their shower and they had even kindly arranged us dinner that night to celebrate my birthday…which we had both completely forgotten about! We ate tagine and drank contraband Moroccan wine until late, chatting and laughing about weddings, travel stories and campers. We had a great night with two great new friends that we had the pleasure of spending the week with!
Here begins the Moroccan roadtrip!
We spent the next day mooching around the relatively calm seaside town, enjoying the fish markets, the camel ride floggers and the friendly banter with the locals about not buying space cakes, hash or a ride on any animal. It was such a lovely chilled out day and we were excited to hit the road to Marrakech the next morning to get our wedding on!
We had been working closely with a boutique wedding planning company in Marrakech. Boutique Souk plan Moroccan inspired weddings for people from all over the globe and we were excited to see what they had in mind. Liz Parry their PR lady was coming to meet us and had pulled the whole thing together for us. AND, to top it all off we had been invited to one of the most stunning Riads in Marrakech to hold our ceremony on their rooftop terrace.
El Fenn boasts 20 individually (and beautifully) styled rooms and suites, a four-bedroom private riad, 3 swimming pools and its own hammam spa. It is SUCH a unique boutique hotel and combines grandeur and historic architecture with hideaway nooks, terraces and gardens – making it the most peaceful place from which to enjoy Africa’s most exotic city.
We were excited to arrive and explore and of course, to see the famous huge roof terrace overlooking the Koutoubia mosque and snow-capped Atlas mountains where we would be lucky enough to hold our 45th wedding ceremony!