The failure of the air system still takes some time. The next day, the mechanic returned indeed with a repaired part. A time consuming exercise to complete the entire task because the whole thing is behind the battery block with all kinds of air ducts around. After 2 hours, everything is back on place. But…. O what a bad luck, during building up the air pressure there occurred another leak in the system. A leak in a rusted air tube. Fortunately, not so bad that I cannot drive. That night we decide to drive back to Agadir where the mechanic has his garage. The mechanic in his car in front of me and I following. I also take two hitchhikers with me who got stuck here in this hole because there is no transport by means of bus or taxi. A special experience for me, because beforehand I promised myself not to drive in the dark, but now it’s going to happen. With an attractive Italian lady beside me chatting my ears from my head and a winding road in the mountains you do not find in Western Europe.
Agadir is located on the sea, so the route goes mainly down. The hairpins and the heat cause huge sweat production. I had not done this ride as I had no Telma brake at my disposal. An electromagnetic braking system that can be used separately from the normal brake. Upon request, the Italian tempers her flood of words. After 1.5 hours we arrive at the garage at 10 pm. Here I will have to wait 2 more days until everything is repaired. Also for this problem the spare parts heave to come from Casablanca.
During the day I take the bicycle to visit the city of Agadir. A big modern city with a giant promenade along the expansive beach. A tourist attraction par excellence, of course if you like beach and many people. Altogether, all these repairs lasted five days but all fame to the mechanic and also the insurance of the AA who paid everything except the new parts. At the end of the afternoon, when the repair is completed , I jump into the truck and hit the road in order not to spend another night in this narrow Agadir alley . I drive along the coast to the north and find, close to a lighthouse, an excellent place to spend the night . Directly on the cliffs where the Atlantic crashes. A beautiful sunset, a cold beer and the fact that Piggy is in a good shape again is giving me a happy feeling . The feeling of freedom has returned !!
My next goal is the small port Essaouira. Again, a walled medina and a small harbor with fishing boats and a small shipyard where hand built wooden fishing vessels are built in accordance with age-old recipe. The old fort gives a nice overview of the Medina with its narrow alleyways. Very nice to walk around, but also a misery for a photographer. Taking pictures of women, but also men will not be tolerated. Even one’s commerce, even if it is only a grape should not be photographed. They want money for it. It drives you crazy. Therefore the captured images relate primarily overviews with no people on it.
The coast around Essouirra is known for its strong winds. Internationally, a popular place for surfing or kite surfing.On the beach you are sandblasted. Not exactly a great place to wallow yourself on the beach in the sun, but people do it. After two days the interior of the camper is covered with a layer of sand.
Marrakesh is located not far from Essaouira, but I insist on reaching the place via the Tzi’n Test pass. It’s so easy to take the highway, but I prefer the beautiful surroundings and also the challenge of this narrow winding road with crumbled asphalt and sometimes grit. To reach this pass from Essouira you must go south and from the town of Taroudannt turn north again. The views from the pass are phenomenal. I regularly stop for a picture, which moreover is again a chore to park the truck on a safe place, step out of the monster and then climb back into it. What a great hobby I have! Before I go to Marrakech I want to see if I am able to climb the highest mountain in North Africa. The Jebl Toubkal 4165m high and completely free of snow at this time. In the village of Imlil I park the truck on a large empty parking lot where three guys watch on Piggy lest it runs away. I prepare everything for a trip of two days, possibly one day. Warm clothes, sleeping bag, bivouac sack, food and water. The backpack weighs just 13 kg. So that should not be a problem. The next morning I leave at half past 5 in the morning. After only 10 minutes, I note that it is not as easy as I expected. Cramps in the legs and hip muscles which is increasing very rapidly After half an hour I have to give up. What a disappointment. The last four months I have not trained during the trip but I did not expect this. Not long ago I was the fastest in the mountains. Disappointed I return to the truck and crawl into bed to wait for dawn. That morning I go out with a small backpack and some water. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon I turn back on the same route and meet an occasional trekker returning from the top. There is extensive use of donkeys to transport luggage.
Marrakech is located in a bowl on the north side of the Atlas Mountains. As a result it is very hot in this time of the year. Luckily I found a campsite with a swimming pool so I can cool off at regular times. Temperatures reach over 50 degrees.
In total I stay 6 days on the outskirts of the city and take it easy in this heat. Of course I visit the Jemaa El Fna, the large, famous square with snake charmers, medicine-men , fortune tellers, street performers and storytellers, but also the Ali Ben Youssef medersa, the Quran school with its 14th century with its gorgeous mosaic- and stucco work. The medina with its souks and narrow and dark alleys. Money is demanded in a very unpleasant way if you want to take a picture. For example, when I was taking some pictures of the plaza, a member of a music ensemble stepped to me and demanded money, using impressive gestures and using a loud voice. He thinks I am photographing his music ensemble, which is not true. When I refuse, he orders me to show my pictures, which I refuse, of course. Only a policeman can order me that when I take, possible, security-sensitive images. After a while he retreats and pinches me in my arm, He must find another tourist to rip him off. Photographing a still life of a pile of oranges is not possible. The merchant wants money for that.
For that reason, despite its beautiful and interesting tourist attractions, I do not feel comfortable in Marrakesh.
I pull into the Atlas Mountains and visit the camping site of Paul and Renate in Ouzoud. A Dutch couple who, after many years of wandering in Africa, have finally found their hideaway and started a nice camp site in this town, close to the largest waterfall in Morocco, The Cascades de Ouzoud. The view of the cascades is beautiful. It attracts hundreds of Moroccan tourists, especially on weekends, and restaurants, pleasure boats and a series of disordered camping sites along the river earn a good living , I guess. A few hours after my arrival in Ouzoud another Dutch camper truck arrives. Oskar is on the road for a couple of weeks during school holidays with his wife and two daughters in Morocco. He himself has converted his old army DAF into a camper. As a teacher in truck-technology he has a lot of expertise in this field and can teach me some additional technical knowledge. When I left, I notice that my right rear tire has lost some pressure. I cannot find a leak, inflate it to the normal pressure and head for the Ait Bougomez valley. A beautiful valley with eastbound an ever narrowing valley and high mountains. Until the village of Zaouia Ahansal the road shows very interesting passages, if you know what I mean. Sometimes it leads through small Berber villages where Piggy just fits between the houses. Regrettably photography is not possible. I need all the attention to keep Piggy on the road. It is an area which is known to hikers. Many people come here to visit the small isolated villages in the hinterland. But now it’s too hot. But in the winter there can be a lot of snow here. Alpine-ski paradise par excellence.
The winding road continues north and passes the so-called. “Catedral des Roches”, a giant rock that towers over the pine trees as a cathedral. I make my camp next to the river and take an occasional dip. (See the pictures for an impression. Otherwise the story is too long)
The next few days my rear tire shows a loss of pressure between 1 and 1.5 Bar. I inflate it in the morning and can continue the journey that day. This time I proceed north to the artificial lake, the ‘Barrage Ben Ouida’. Especially at sunrise it is a magnificent spectacle as the red earth and blue water manifest an even more intense color. The most beautiful part of Morocco is in front of me. Again via a thrilling road with deep ravines, low-hanging rocks, for Piggy exactly high enough to fit under it I find a good camping spot between two azure colored mountain lakes. The Lac de Tislit and Lac d’Isli.
After a 2 days’ rest my tire lost a lot of pressure. The pressure is reduced from 6 bar to 3.5 bar. It takes a long time to get it to the right pressure again. Yesterday, a heavy thunderstorm on the road to Tinghir has led to a lot of flooding. Fortunately, the main problem is over now apart from some big puddles. Through the extreme touristic Todra Gorge where I maneuver between the crowds on walking pace I reach Tinghir. Adjacent to the camping site is a “Location de Pneu” where it shows that two big nails have drilled into the rubber. Extremely friendly and helpful the tire is disassembled and repaired. A tough job I would not like to do on my own. One thing should be mentioned: In Morocco there are excellent technicians. How unsightly the garage might be, they know exactly what they are doing.
In a good mood, I draw on now, back to the north of Morocco. On August 30th I must leave the country, because then my maximum time of 3 months is over. Returning European Moroccans on holiday will take the ferry back to Europe en masse . I want to avoid the crowds
As usual, I send my last GPS location every day to my family via a satellite link. I always place the device on the roof so I have better contact with the satellites.
After my night in the desert near the town of Rich, I discover the next day that I forgot to take the device from the roof. Oh what a (expensive) bad luck. Insurance provider informed and brother Ruud asked to bring a new device from the States, where he currently resides.
Via Azrou I arrive in the ancient royal city of Meknes. An interesting place, but far less touristy than Fes and Marrakech. Here no nagging merchants, no imposed payments for shooting oranges or grapes. Even people were photographed quite easily. What a delight. So it can also be like that in Morocco. Near Meknes, the ancient Roman city of Volubilis is my next target. Many walls and arched structures still remain. I wait until the sun sets as long as possible when Volubilis in the orange colored light is at its best before I leave.
When, in the resort town of Moulay Bouselham, I must repair the winch system of my luggage box on the rear of the truck , with, by the way, (curious ) assistance of a French neighbor, who noticed a small black box on the front of the big luggage box and ask me where this is for. It is wedged between the x section of the box. My mouth drops open in astonishment. It is my long-lost satellite device. I could kiss the man. Although he offered no technical assistance in the repair, his inquisitive eye turned out to be of invaluable significance . My last days in Morocco I spend in Tangier . Tangier was an unsafe place at my last visit in 1972 . High crime , drug trafficking and prostitution . Times have changed . It is a beautiful , modern city now . The old center has been refurbished for the main part. Nice souqs where you can wander peacefully without pushy merchants . photographing is also not a problem. What a relief.
On Aug. 22, I stand at the gate of the ferry from Tangier Med to Algeciras in Spain. It is half past 2. At 4pm the boat leaves. My truck proves too high for the gate. The officer directs me to a parking lot where someone can help me further. Noisy figures are going to bother about me. They will help me. My passport and ticket goes from one person to another. Moments later, the man returns with a completed form, which I actually had done myself beforehand and tells me that I should go to the 2nd roundabout. There they will guide me further. He also demands a payment for his help which I did not have. Beforehand I spent all my Dirhams in the cheap diesel of Morocco. I had nothing but a bill of 50 euros in my pocket. So, he can forget that payment, I said, while he continues to make efforts to change the 50 euros. Arriving at the second roundabout they don’t know what I am coming for. Here they send me to the 5th roundabout. At the gate I’m stuck on the control. This shows to be the department for trucks with merchandise. They direct me back to the first step. At my urging they lead me to the right place . Previously he says I have to pay for this. Meanwhile, there are two people in this car with a batch of the port on the chest. Back at the first gate they chat a short while with the port officer and I can line up in a queue where Piggy fits under the gate. Of course, two hours ago that gate was also there. Unfortunately, also here, the men demanded in a loud and abashing way, money. No Dirhams? Euros are also good. Only a 50 Euro banknote? Fine. Give that. They are after all with two of them. I really want to pay 10 euros but he insists on 20 euros. He wants to pay me back into dirhams, which I refuse, of course. And so it goes for a while. Eventually I could somehow change my ticket 50 Euros and give them 20 Euros. Meanwhile, the price has risen to 30 Euro. I continue to persevere in my 20 Euros. Strongly overprized of course. But yeah. I want to take the boat to Spain. Nevertheless, the two men wish me a “bonne voyage” and wave me goodbye. Nice pocket money, they will think. Everybody happy. The boat leaves at half past nine in the evening.
It is dark now.