It was a Sunday morning when we finally left Doncaster for the final time. All the checks complete and we where off, driving south to Harwich for the night ferry to the hook of Holland. We played David Bowie’s ‘We can be Heroes’ loudly as the emotion of what we were about to undertake kicked in.A trip driving around the world, with very little chance of us ever returning to the UK to live again, this was life changing for us both. It was about this time I realised for me to honour my pledge to write this blog about the places we see and the people we meet would leave out a whole dimension of what Charlotte and I where undertaking, this adventure that will shape the remainder of our lives and so if I did write about how this adventure is effecting us, it would render the writing one dimensional when it should be about the whole picture.
Once onboard the ferry, we threw our bags in our cabin and scampered to the stern of the ship to wave goodbye to our home, the UK had served us well for so many years. There was no fan fare to play us off, no fireworks, no waves goodbye even, just a few stragglers smoking a cigarette or making a last call home before they lost the signal to their mobile phones.
On our arrival into the Netherlands the next day, we looked forward to meeting our friends and a few days of partying and celebrations commenced, taking our minds off what really lay ahead that was both scary and exciting equally.
From the Netherlands we headed for Belgium and more friends and celebrations. This was turning out to be my type of trip!
From Belgium we headed for France via Luxembourg (because we had never been) where we managed to buy exceptionally inexpensive Diesel (Gas Oil) and little else. Does it really count as visiting a country, if you just drive through and buy fuel?
A few days later and we were enjoying the delights of Normandy, as well as visiting the war graves that was a must do whilst in the area.
All was going well until the night we sat eating our dinner in the truck and the news flash came over the phone's, informing us France was closing its borders in 24 hours and no one would be allowed to leave for a month.
France is very lovely, but we didn’t want a months delay so it was a quick wash of the dishes and then an all night and day drive to reach the border with Spain.We made it with 4 hours to spare!
The loose plan was to saunter through Spain and Portugal and wait for the ferries to start up again to Morocco. Im not sure when we accepted the fact that we would be in for a long wait if we wanted to take the Spain/Morocco ferries, they were not for opening any time soon, nor have they moved on that decision since. A change of plan was needed and that took us to the port of Genoa in Italy to catch the weekly ferry from Genoa to the port of Tangier Med in northern Morocco. This involved getting a Covid test 72 hours before we boarded and an awful lot of money for the 53 hour crossing.
Once in Morocco we headed for an Aire for the first nights sleep and bought SIM cards for the phones and our modem. We where winning and on our way finally.
Now an Air hostess friend of mine told me once, she wanted to write a book entitled “the first night in” to assist travellers when they first arrive in a new destination to orientate them selves with their new surroundings. As experienced travellers we understood her desire to write such a book as it always seems when you are fresh into a country, you hustle through the airport often dazed due to the ordeal of customs, the time differences and looking for luggage etc.You then pour out of the airport building and stand out and almost have a beam of light shinning around you and a halo above you with the word MUG emblazoned into it - AKA easy pray for the touts.
In a previous life, when I smoked cigarettes, I always used smoking a cigarette as a ploy when leaving the airport building to give me time to asses my surroundings before being bombarded by touts trying to hustle you into an overpriced Taxi or taking you to their brothers overpriced hotel.Smoking a cigarette at the exit of the airport building gave me about 6 minutes before falling for the local scam anyway and vowing to never get caught again as the expensive taxi drives off leaving me in the middle of nowhere outside the taxi drivers brothers expensive hotel! And once again, we where those travellers that night although the scams have moved on since my smoking days. We bought SIM cards from the local petrol station (the first petrol station after the ferry) where we now guess all tourists go to get their SIM cards and the maximum data we could purchase for all our devices. The guy at the petrol station knows you are passing by and will probably never return or recognise him anyway, so he took the maximum value and gave us the least amount of data on the SIM cards. An easy scam and quite a lucrative one I guess. Lesson learnt, we topped up the SIM cards the following day and vowed to never get caught again…… until the next time.
Morocco we thought was much of the same as we had seen on numerous visits to Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, but how wrong we where. This country opened up in front of us and we have been amazed. Lush green pastures in the northern part of the country gives way to the Riff Mountains and then the Atlas Mountains with their snow covered peaks.After the Atlas we had the moonscape of the Anti-Atlas where farmers plough there fields using Donkeys and the houses in the villages are built of mud and straw. Next comes the start of the Sahara desert. An area I had really looked forward to getting to, so I could play out one of my fantasies of driving in the in the sand dunes in our monster truck.
I had seen on You-tube any number of videos of 4x4’s gliding along the side of sand dunes at jaunty angles, looking amazing and so when we arrived at a camp site right in the middle of the Dunes, my heart skipped a beat but Charlotte insisted we rested that night before and the following day we would enquire of the best approach to take our truck out to play from the local campsite owner whom would have local knowledge obviously.
The next morning came and Charlotte went to talk to the campsite owner in the office as agreed to ensure we kept safe whilst playing in the sand. I agreed this was a good idea as I had already hatched a plan to get a little practice in before we left the campsite and said I would drive the truck the few hundred meters to the office and meet Charlotte there.
My cunning plan was to drive the wrong way out of the carpark and so encounter some minor dunes on the way. I mean, really, what could go wrong?
After half an hours digging and a small gift for the two guys that helped us, or whom actually did most of the digging really, we got our truck out of the deep sand and I realised at this point this wasn’t going to be as easy as I had originally thought.
Charlotte did a lot of driving on that leg of the trip but that’s for another day.
I hope you enjoy this blog and as we are in Morocco for the foreseeable future awaiting the land border to Mauritania, there is plenty of scope to tell of some of the wonderful people and places we have been lucky enough to visit so far and how humbled we have been by the happiness of the people whom probably have the least but smile on and offer us tea at regular intervals although they have nothing other than love in their hearts.
Morocco, an amazing destination.
I also want to let you know Charlotte and I are to be featured on a Channel 5 Documentary next Sunday (21st of February) at 8pm called Million pound mega motorhomes.
We are also on Jorvik Radio doing a monthly update and writing an article for an American 4x4 Magazine due out this spring.
I thought we had retired?