Well, now we are in Tarifa. We arrived here yesterday. It has been one hell of a crazy past few days snowballing into a rush out of Morocco one week earlier than planned.
Events took a downward turn in Meknes. We had hoped to spend a couple of days there exploring the Medina. There is a large Sunday market we hoped to catch. Unfortunately we took a wrong turn. It was a one way street that we became swept along. Quite by surprise we found ourselves behind the Medina walls. The tiny street then turned back through a gate into the wide world but the Zil was not going to fit through the gate. We began to maneuver to see if we could squeeze through – it would be tight. One vegetable seller was adamant we could fit and tried to direct me. I hesitated, whilst a few more residents, eager to help, started directing me in different directions. Meanwhile the Zil was getting into a rather awkward poition, neither able to fit through the gate, nor reverse back along the one way street which was filling up with waiting cars. Then I made a big mistake: I took instruction from one chap that insisted I could pass through a tiny alley that curved round into a wide open square. The idea being I could turn around in the square and return back along the one way street contra-flow. I had to pull in my side windows as the fit was glove tight – thus putting all faith in the competence of this chap that proceeded to get us truly wedged, the bumper passenger side dug into one wall, the cabin driver side grating against the pillars of a portico.
The noise brought out the entire neighborhood. Some people had advise to give, otheres just wanted to spectate. The residents of the two houses were screaming abuse, one lady was waving a cosh. The chap that was giving me directions slipped away quietly leaving us stranded. Not able to even open the drivers door, I hit the accelerator pedal. There was the sound of metal grinding, a child screaming, the collapse of rubble, tiles smashing to the floor. The Zil broke through into the square. Behind me was a plaster wall covered in deep incisions, a wreaked electricity box, a pile of rubble and smashed tiles from damage to the pillar.
There was nothing for it but to wait for the police. First I tried to placate the angry residents but there was no way of engaging them, even with supplicating myself on the floor, which just made me an easy target for the lady with the cosh. Some residents were sympathetic. ‘It happens all the time’ one said. Coffee was made for me. I nursed a mangled thumb whilst the storm showed no sign of relenting.
In such a situation the Police proved fantastic. A plainclothes officer took the case on. He made some notes, took my papers and got me to turn the truck around to go back through the tight alley. This time I had a more competent chap giving directions and we made it through without a scratch.
In the station witness statements were taken. After about an hour of paperwork I was told I could leave. Great service! Now there is some cosmetic damage to the truck. I also need to replace the protective steel skirting which was crushed.
Feeling rather shaken we now headed for Ceuta. The route took us past the ruins of Volubilis. It is a romantic looking Roman city. From the car we could see the Arch, forum, theatre. Amazingly, the city had a population of several hundred thousand, a mixture of Mediterranean merchant families and mountain Berber. Also amazing is that the city remained inhabited until the 1800’s when it was leveled by an earthquake.
Passing on we reached Chefchaouen. This is a gorgeous city. It is famous for its buildings being colour coded white with blue highlights. This gives it a very distinct Mediterranean look, it could be Greek, or Spanish. The walls are smoothly plastered over. Attention is paid to the details, pretty doors, doorknockers, birds in cages, plant pots, fountains. The Medina is where all the good looks are concentrated as is the thriving tourist industry which attracts plenty of urban Moroccans from Rabat and Casa. Unfortunately the city was been flooded with heroin in teh last two years which has seen a rise in junkies and crime.
So now we are in Spain! It feels good to be back in Europe. But then it also feels sad to have left Morocco. I can not wait for my next trip over there!
I need now to take some time to reflect. The Africa leg of our journey is ended. So much has happened. Its been an incredible adventure. It does not end yet. Next is France – will we find ourselves a home there or keep traveling?