Back to the darkness, humid and chilly.
That’s not a warm wrap of Mediterranean, but cold squeeze of Northern Atlantic ocean. I do not complain: this night is summer vacations if to compare with Baltic or Northern seas in autumn. We’re in 12 hours till Rabat, the capital of Marocco. This country has been luring me for a long time.
My history of getting to Marocco:
Plan A: This spring I was planning a trip to Marocco but, due to financial situation and upcoming long-lasting journey, cancelled it.
Plan B: Another chance had appeared, when we arrived to Tarife this September. It takes 35 minutes from this Spanish town to get to Maroccan Tangier. But boycott of our freezer closed this way for me too – we went to the north, to Cadiz.
Plan C: Chris got an idea to avoid Canaries and go along the coast of Eastern Africa. I was excited. But reports of Noonsite brought me back to Earth: Marocco – dirty towns, no facilities, bribes, long-lasting bureaucracy procedures, possibility to be robbed, no anchorage… what else… So we returned to the first suggested route of “Vagabond”: Canaries – Capo Verde – Brazil..
A sailor suggests, but the last word is by weather. And it promised to be tough in two days. We didn’t have chance to reach islands before strong wind will come. We needed a break in the middle of the distance. And the only option was… Marocco.
…Far in the fog – shores of my dear dear Africa! We’re in 16 miles from the land of Marocco! 13 miles of sea from a shore belong to the country. But here they are already, the police of Marocco – military, pretty scary ship. Polite “hello” and the question that made us suspicious about the reason of their visit: “Any problems?” Potential reasons of problems were already overboard, so we didn’t have anything that could interest them. ..did I say anything? : )
Chris explained them that we’re going to Rabat for a couple of days. They welcomed and left. Looks like they just ordered their assistance. Or prevent us from entering inner waters if we are not “all right”, not to cause problems to both sides.
I expected much from Marocco. I’ve never been to Arabic countries before. Still, I kept in mind, that Marocco is much more touristic (read: tolerant) than, for example, Oman, where Chris had not the best experience of his journey.
We expected much… and our expectations were generously regarded with kind welcome we met.
Rabat has a new channel and a marina that are not displayed on old Crisa’s version of MaxSea. Was thrilling to watch how “Vagabond” first reached the riffs, and soon ‘turned” into vehicle, passing through the space, pointed by MaxSea as a land. We called the marina Bouregreg and asked for assistance. Soon the pilot arrived and led us through a narrow channel to the entrance.
First that you notice – friendly interest of locals. In the estuary two men – one swimming, one sailing – pointed us the right direction, before we asked. Fishermen from their picturesque boats were waving us welcome.
Guys in the marina spoke English, along with local Arabic and French. They smiled and were extremely helpful. So were migration officials! The procedure took less than an hour. Moreover, we were told all – pass (that substitute visa for sailors) and check-it – check- out – are free of charge!
The marina is well-equipped, with clean showers and WiFi (not very fast, tho). Guys in Capitanerie do their best to help us with all formalities, point all important see-sights and facilities and answer all questions. Guards are neat, friendly and talkative. There’re plenty of them on the quay and near the gate – looks like this place is really safe to stay.
There’re plenty of shops not far from the marina. Prices made a pleasant surprise: twice lower than in Spain. For example, full cake cost 6 euros. Another nice invention was the price of diesel: 70 cents per liter.
Tram station to the Old town Medina is right in front of the marina.
In several hours before departure to Rabat I started to try different ways of wrapping myself. Being guests, we were going to show respect to local religion and traditions, covering our arms and legs. But locals appeared much more tolerant and relaxed than I expected. At least at their attitude to travelers. Moreover, many of local women (especially young) are dressed in very European style: jeans, T-shirts, leather coats, even summer dresses. Hair is loose or in pony tail, without any cover. Probably, women start to dress more modest traditional way after marriage. Anyway, I saw many Arabic couples, dressed very casual way.
Men are very nice, helpful and even gallant. When me and Aimee went for a walk together, we didn’t feel any inconvenience at all.
Soon departing to the Old town Medina – and craft market of crs! Can’t wait : )