Morocco 6: Down the east coast, back to the start, and an overdue catastrophy
The way down the east coast can be wrapped up rather quickly, because it is not that interesting. Actually, we first headed north from Chefchaouen, having a quick look at Tetuan. There is not much to say about it, not because it's particularly boring, but rather because by that time we had seen so many moroccan cities that we just couldn't be so very excited about another one anymore. There was one funny thing though: They had very nice street signs there, made of tiles at the building walls. I liked the one shown here in particular😂.
We chilled by a beach and saw some camels (again), visited the largest mosque in Africa (The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca), walked through a few places, but decided that the more industrialized coastal region is just not that interesting. So we preferred to leave it behind rather quickly and hoped to have one last, interesting evening together in Marrakech.
We arrived in Marrakech in the evening and checked into our hostel. It was pretty much a construction site. At least about half the lobby and one of the rooms. But it was good enough.
However, on the second day we were informed that due to the construction work, they'd not have enough beds for the second night that we had booked there! Funny things happen. However, the guy knew a guy who also had a hostel where we could stay instead. So, we packed our stuff and were guided through a labyrinth of small streets to this other place, which turned out to be just lovely! So much better than where we came from! It was very small, but beautifully decorated and just a place where one could feel at home, so we were more than happy to have moved! Then, after dropping off stuff, we decided to explore the Medina.
I had already been to the Medina on my first day in Marrakech, and I was rather appaled by it all. The heat, the crowds, the smell, the dirt and all the annoying people. But, after three weeks of getting used to this country, we had actually developed the mental framework to deal with it all, so that's something! To be fair, Samira had been a lot better at that from the start, but now I was starting to enjoy it as well. It felt like now I was in on their game of trying to test whether a person could be squeezed out or not. And when they get the feeling that you know what's going on, the thing becomes much more of a discussion on equal grounds. That day, we actually had a lot of quite funny conversations with a few of the shopkeepers in the Medina, and it's not like they get angry after a 15 minute conversation, if you don't end up buying something. Some of them are also just trying to have a good time.
I did end up buying a replacement for my leather jacket that was starting to look a little worn. After what felt like 20 minutes of haggeling, where the keepers of the shop repeatedly called me a "real Berber", I ended up paying about 70€ for it. I have no idea if that was a particularly good deal, but I'm happy with the jacket...😅
The next day, Samira and Thomas were leaving me. Samira left some time in the morning, so we drove her to the airport and said our goodbyes. Then, the question remained what Thomas and I would do till the evening, which was when his flight was leaving. We decided to head down south, to some lake. There, we just chilled for a couple of hours, until we had to drive back to the airport again. Once again, same procedure, we said goodbye and I drove off, on a street I had taken for at least five times by then. After like 500 meters ‐ I could still see the airport ‐ I had to stop at a traffic light, at which I wanted to make a right turn. So I was literally just standing there, turn signal flashing, when something bumped into my car. One of those f****** Berber motorbike drivers!!!🤬
We had seen a lot of crazy traffic during our trip through the entire country. It was a miracle nothing had ever happened so far. And then, after not even five minutes of being by myself, when I'm standing at a traffic light, some idiot drives his bike into my rental! Unbelievable!
Luckily, a few locals, and one in particular, where extremely helpful, called the police (or whatever agency one has to call in Morocco in such situations) and helped me handle the entire situation, on this super busy street. Of course, I was a bit doubtful if they were actually helping me, given how things work in this country. I was half expecting another scam. Sorry about that, honest Moroccans.
So, this is what had happened:
The only thing I could do was try to keep my nerves together, help out the motorbike driver by pouring some high percentage alcoholic beverage that I still had on his foot, wait for all the bureaucracy to be done and then consider what I was going to do for the night, given that I was told to bring the sheet of paper from the pic to my rental agency the next day. What I did do was sleep in the car for the night, return to the airport in the morning, deliver the paperwork, and then, finally, make my way back to Imlil in the Atlas mountains, where I had decided to spend a week studying for an exam I had two days after my planned return back home. I figured, if I have to study anyway, I might as well do it in a nice spot, and Imlil happened to be one of the nicest I had seen in Morocco!
This is not the only crazy accident I witnessed in Morocco, though! Two weeks later, again in Marrakech, before I left myself, I saw a guy on a motorbike who wanted to pass a slow driving car. A nice, fairly new, slow driving car. But taking over on the left was too much of a struggle. The guy preferred to take over via the right of the car, passing through in between the moving car and the parked ones at the side of the road. To his great astonishment though, he was wider than he had expected, and got stuck half way through! Two more dents in Morocco's cars, that was. A strange mixture of funny and sad to watch, given my history...
A final word to everyone who considers renting a car in Morocco: My case in an excellent example of why you need insurance in Morocco! One of the locals told me that I could probably get the damage done to my car fixed for around 15€, but I decided not to do that in order not to meddle with the official workings of how such an accident is supposed to be handled by the rental firm. Keep that figure in mind, though! A few weeks later, after my return to Germany, I was notified that the rental firm charged me about 1400€ for the damage, which happened to be the entire sum they had blocked on my credit card! Bastards!
So, I contacted my insurance, and they told me they would take care of it. In the end, I received most of that money back, excluding a "file fee" of about 120€. Still kinda expensive...