Nothing to The Border

Left the town got about 500m then  stopped – fined this time for failing to stop at a halt sign – nobody in sight as I drove up at 20ks an hour exactly same procedure as day before -really a try on but I just wanted out of there so 200 dirhams it was.

Guess what more desert absolutely vast,  all you can see is sand and flat here, you really do start having visions as sky and horizon just melt in all directions – very odd. We drove for 80 miles and did not see a vehicle, Then only a few trucks, roadside repairs are common judging by massive oil slicks by roadside. Blowouts seem frequent judging by debris and scars on roads

Blowout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No wildlife at all just camels. Forgot to say no birds except on the coast further up when we went through hoards of swallows and swifts heading north plus a few flamingos in the odd coastal river that had water in it.

It was our intention to stop but there is nothing we discovered other than army posts and half built new towns. So before we knew it we were a 100Ks from border and thought lets try it.

 

Suffice to say the border crossing took 2 hours mostly on Moroccan side – a study in affected laziness until somebody flashes some cash which happened all the time. Then the tricky bit the 3ks no mans land from West Sahara to Mauritania is still a minefield with no roads. Follow tracks is the advice – question is which ones as you weave between wrecked cars. Absolutely crazy everyone including trucks etc has to bounce, slide and spin with fingers crossed. Interesting feature Satnav went into panic mode big red letters and loud voice – MINEFIELD MINEFIELD – not something you get very often.

Some minefield victims - plenty more around all over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mauritanian side better but took another 50ks to town and that was entertaining – co pilot not happy – she should have tried driving. Rules are if you have lights no matter how many/ few they must be on full beam, this is to blind you so you can’t see the guys without any at all as they dodge the donkey carts and drive on both sides of the road in both directions at the same time, then theres the pedestrians, goats etc. Co driver was beyond whimpering – reached a state of horror stricken silence not broken until this morning .

Wandered through part of the town this morning –  nice people, laid back. Got insurance arranged for west africa – in theory anyway – only time will tell.

Camping Auberge Abba - Nouadhibou Muritania

 

 

 

 

 

Off tomorrow to wildlife park famous for birds really – Emmas threatening to get her big camera out . Make a change from camel pics anyway.

Went to main fishing port very busy, taxis are odd by Uk standards  they toot as they pass if you want a lift they stop no matter who or how many people are in there already. best one had smashed windsceen,4 passengers plus us. doors operayed by string and wires except drivers which just kept opening. Strange noises abound. but cheap 70p and freindly.

Further Adventures Of Tan Tan ( without Snowy)

Left French foreign legion early in high winds – nobody told me deserts were so windy all the time.Got more and more arid went through a nice rural town called Guelmim where lots of old landys started to appear been omnipresent ever since – we are talking 1970s models and earlier invariably loaded to the max with some unusual cargoes. Another staple is the early model transit vans which have obviously have stayed the pace when rust is not an issue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving here is very odd as previously explained saw a women on a straight road with nothing for miles unable it appears to keep it in a straight line at about 20 miles an hour then saw a driving instructors car not only two sets of controls but two steering wheels – obviously have no faith in locals driving skills either.

Ended up at a horrible camp site at Tan Tan beach by now only us and a few legionnaires. Left as soon as we could in the morning. Been true desert from then camels – dunes endless stony plains – mirages just like the films “water water oh no its a mirage you fool! etc etc” The daft thing is we both keep commenting “its very desert like isn’t it” every few miles sort of involuntary reaction. Warning signs for camels on road which are fair enough but included one for camels and butterflies??? confused we were. Explanations please.

Camels - Emmas new obsession

Another feature is suicidal birds endless roads nothing on them yet every now and then a bird gets up and always flies into the path of the car very slowly – no idea why given all their other options but thats what happens. As a result quite a few don’t make it.

Ended up in Western Sahara before we knew it – but boy do they make sure you know it . Got pulled a total of 7 times since just before lunch including what I think must be a record twice in about 20ms literally out of one into the next then, to really make my day got pulled for speeding – a “tiny fraction over” the 40k limit ( 25mph) about 50 m from the second roadblock so 3 in 70 m -take some beating I think. The road in question was a dual carriage way with no one else on it and they set the limits it seems to suit – 300 dirhams for the privilege.
A couple of hours later we had used up all our passport copies so stopped and got 50 more printed about 5 days worth at current rate.

Anyway had a good lunch between roadblocks excellent mutton tagine salad and fresh orange juice plus local bread £10 -bargain! Diesel cheapest yet about 60p/litre – remember those days.

Desert and more desert – its a big thing we have discovered a map really gives no idea how vast. About another400kms to mauritanian border then probably another 750 plus to Senegal so perhaps we will stop commenting on the desert by then.

Desert - lots of it

 

 

 

 

 

Stopped for the night in a town called Boujdour on the coast – got a definitely different flavour to Moroccan towns. Had some very tasty charcoal cooked patties,stuffed into bread for tonights sups yum yum

the desert by the sea - just like slapton but bigger - much bigger

Going South

Finally left Rabat.Drove 250 miles to Essaouira,with the temperature increasing rapidly,yet still local folk in winter gear. Although it was28c
Passed through many towns and villages,it was obviously market day and very busy everywhere,including donkey carts giving way to pony carts mopeds and people. Co pilot screaming ” Michael watch, Michael ohh! ” etc ! Plenty of roadworks,but no diversion signs,so quite tricky finding your way at times.

  
Out in the countryside the barley fields are already going yellow and it’s only March,verges are grazed by shepherd’s with sheep,goats and cows,even on the motorways ,the livestock just seem to stay off the road. Shepherding technique involves lobbing rocks at which beast responds quickly, presume they learn the hard way
Arrived in Essaouira and found a nice peaceful campsite,very rural in the midst of an olive grove,it’s 35 c,but still no water in the pool because it’s not hot enough ! Seem to have outrun the Germans, only the French to contend with now.

Essouria

All about Argan oil here - whatever that is - cooking and cosmetic I am told

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange beast ended up in my tea

tea beast

 

 

Headed south getting more desert like as we headed for Tiznit quite hot 35c, very dusty and windy- minor sand storm thingy so no photos. Driving takes for ever as you seem to go vertically as much as horizontally. crazy roads and drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Co pilot much improved with only occasional whimpering . However coaches coming at you on wrong side of road overtaking with no hope of making it gave rise to a few permissible screams. and buttock clenchings on my part. Very windy dusty -minor sand storm for a long way so no photos,also hot 35c plus

Nearly had major disaster when i nearly filled auxiliary tank with water – got away with it just as hose fell out and emms asked if it was the right one – its the heat i say!!

Stayed last night on campsite in a place called Sidi Ini very strange a gravel car park occupied by the French Foreign legion of camper vans complete with large array of garden furniture, external carpets flowers and poodles. All a bit odd like the Germans they never seem to leave their mobile homelands and just sit and bake – don’t know why they bother.

Went in search of food last night, not hopeful as it was Friday, found a bar with a sort of lock in with locals having a shifty beer – afraid of being caught we think. Chatted to waiter in my best Franglais which gets more confused by the day and managed to get couscous lamb stew with root veggies absolutely the businees and about £10 inc 3 beers enough on each plate to feed 4 or 5 people .

 

Now off to border with former spanish/ Western Sahara – occupied buy Morocco. Large berm fortification made to keep locals out, so we go down the coast

 

 

 

rabat visas etc

In order to obtain our Mauritanian visas,we are currently staying on a very basic site,just outside Rabat,apparently these will take a couple of day’s to be issued, before we can set off again.
The drive from Tangiers was very interesting,being mainly good productive agricultural land,which was green and lush with plentiful crops and livestock.
On arrival in Rabat,we were confronted by some crazy driving, free for all roundabouts plenty of police blocks and although they didn’t stop us , were giving the locals a fair bit of grief.
Day’s have been constantly sunny with lovely blue skies,but the nights are very cold,but it’s snuggly and warm in our roof-tent !
The Blue beast is performing well, a leaky oil seal was noted, though by Mike the mechanic,who promptly fixed this,along with a new wheel bearing for good measure!(I bet you think he’s reciting this to me….well he’s not actually!)Anyway all was fixed in two ticks,which infact turned out to be four hours!
lots of egrets never knew they were so common and packs of dogs fighting all night makes usual med country howling dogs seem quiet
fingers crossed for visas

regards

Rabat Visa etc

In order to obtain our Mauritanian visas,we are currently staying on a very basic site,just outside Rabat,apparently these will take a couple of day’s to be issued, before we can set off again.
The drive from Tangiers was very interesting,being mainly good productive agricultural land,which was green and lush with plentiful crops and livestock.
On arrival in Rabat,we were confronted by some crazy driving, free for all roundabouts where might is right so we are OK, plenty of police blocks and although they didn’t stop us , were giving the locals a fair bit of grief. They clearly want to keep them in their place every town has at least 2 roadblocks on way in and again on way outout plus traffic cops and occasional military not forgetting the heavy mob Securete plain cloths mean looking boys. wondered why well known web site search engine does not workdont work apprently banned since 2006 to stop locales knowing whats going on. i thought it was a nice place!!
Day’s have been constantly sunny with lovely blue skies,but the nights are very cold,but it’s snuggly and warm in our roof-tent !
The Blue beast is performing well, a leaky oil seal was noted by Mike the mechanic,who promptly fixed this,along with a new wheel bearing for good measure!(I bet you think he’s reciting this to me….well he’s not actually!)Anyway all was fixed in two ticks,which infact turned out to be four hours!

Did the Mauritanian bit this morning official forms a bit daunting but got there with help in the end.

hopefully we can pick it up tomorrow PM and move on Everybody on the grotty campsite doing the same a load of Welshys taking various vehicles out to Gambia for childrens charity left today.
Nights are noisey no t the howling dogs of the med countries but it seems big packs roaming around having full on fights all night.
As to Mikes spottings basically its just white egrets – (little sort mostley with a few cattle0 everywhere never knew they were so common

Fingers crossed for visas – bound to have done something wrong

Regards
M & Em courtesy of Macdonalds – Everywhere it seems.

Africa at Last

Got the ferry from Tafira ( S Spain) well almost bought tickets but landy did not fit so Emma went off for refund and ticket for ANO ferry but got wrong side of police checkpoint and they didn’t want to let her back – got there in the end.
Confusion in Tanger customs lots of shouting and discussions about pistols, CS gas etc thats all they care about it seems.
Spivs/ touts everywhere. Also police checkpoints and radar traps – their new sport it seems ( we were warned so far so good) All locals clearly regard it as freezing – probably 23c and wearing cray star wars type long hoodies – i like but Emmas not that impressed says my fashion(??) sense is is bad enough. Ladies wera sombrero type hats with fancy edges.
Donkey riding, side sadlle while drumming your heels on its ribs seems standard method of transport. All very green crops well advanced compared to UK 3 months ahead i reckon.

Time for supper – staying at a site about 100ks from Rabat where we spend next few days doing rounds for visas. Your usal correspondant will return tomorrow

France & Spain

We set sail from Plymouth to Roscoff ,it was a lovely smooth crossing and we were the first to drive off the ferry into France. All day was spent driving in warm sunshine until we arrived in a pretty little town called Blaye,on the Gironde estuary, near Bordeaux, here we stayed in a B&B,which was formerly an old merchant’s house,now run by a South African couple.
After a good sleep and breakfast,we took off early,heading for Pampaloma.We thought it would be warm enough to camp that night,but ,could we find a site….oh no, so we slept in a field somewhere,having warmed up a tin of curry we fell asleep exhausted by 8:30 pm !
Headed off at dawn,we had nearly 400 miles of fantastic roads to ourselves ,but sadly with masses of wind turbines to spoil the views. You can see why Spains economy is in trouble they have built/ are building roads everywher and theres no one on them you can travel for miles on your own, its like having your own motorway system ( deluded moi!!).
Found a campsite on the outskirts of Cordoba,we were the only people there,us the owner’s and their pet deer named Bambi,who came to have breakfast with us!The site itself was festooned with flowering Mimosa trees….beautiful.


Having tackled ThePyrenees, I didn’t think mountains could get any more hairy, until we were nearly into Marbella and the mountainous region around Ronda,breathtaking views,but I’m not too good with the heights and sheer drops (especially when Michael spots a bird he likes!)
We are now in Tarifa,catching up on the washing,stocking up with food supplies and generally getting ourselves organised for the ferry across to Morrocco tomorrow .

Mikes spottings – cranes/storks from Bordeaux down wards – just like that program on the TV, Kites – not sure what sort, Flamingos in S Spain and cuckoos from france downwards.
Strange beasts squashed on roads polecats and what look like giant stoats – pine martins?? but quite a lot of them

Last night in Devon

Tonight will be our last night in Devon! We are all packed up and ready to set sail tomorrow. surprisingly, all our kit fitted into the beast quite easily. It’s been such a gorgeous, warm and sunny day here,that I’m almost quite tempted to stay !
We had wonderful farewell dinner with some friends yesterday, who fed us so well, that we won’t need to eat for quite some time ………which is just as well really, because….
I would just like to mention we are not the only members of our family to be heading for adventure. Meely and her boyfriend are spending a few months driving around Europe,leaving next month and my nephew set off last week to cycle around the world,raising money for Unicef,on his own, so really Good luck to you William and who knows, maybe we shall meet up somewhere, someday !!

Wonderful weekend

We have just spent a lovely sunny weekend surrounded by our gorgeous girls/boyfriends and others. I’m going to miss everyone so much,but will try to communicate as much as possible,(given that modern technology is not really my thing!)
It’s going to be a busy week, packing the Blue beast up ready for the off next Monday. preparing our kitchen,filling storage containers,I’m sure we probably have far too much stuff,but will take a view on that when loading up,we know we can fit it all in ,but weight is always a slight worry.
Getting very excited now !