Monday, 8 February 2010

On the road again

Canned Heat
I took the old road towards Casablanca, avoiding the toll road.
Well I say avoid. To avoid it I had to turn round on the desserted dual carriageway that led directly to the toll booths, going the wrong way down the dual carriageway and found the old road.
Aside from the fact that I´m "carefull" with my money (I´m sure Kevin will agree), the main reason for not taking the fast toll road was the lack of petrol stations along the way. I really didnt´t fancy running out of petrol on a toll road.

Ravi Shankar
 On the old road I was frantically flagged down by a couple of guys on their makeshift, Chinese 3 wheeler tractor. I thought the Vespa was on fire or something. It turned out that they had run out of petrol. I gave one of the guys a lift to the nearest petrol station further up the road.
 I was heading for the town of Kenitra, some 350km from Marrakech. I missed the turning I needed to avoid going into Casablanca.
So into Casablanca I went. Choking on the fumes as I got closer to the city centre.
Stopping for petrol I ended up adding a small bottle of oil into my petrol tank, as normal. Only this time I spilt some on my fingers and panicked when I realised it was not oil I had just poured into my petrol but an engine additive to stop leaks in engines, that was disguised as a small bottle of 2 stroke oil.
"D#*m" and "Bl#st" were two words I did not use but for the sake of our younger viewers they will suffice.
It took me over an hour to drain the full 8 litre tank. I refilled. I made sure I added 2 stroke oil this time and set off again towards the capital, Rabat.

The old road to Rabat was blocked off and the fuzz told me to take the toll road, which I did. I was passed by the usual people who seemed to like the vespa, honking and waving and giving me the thumbs up (thumbers).

 I don´t know if it is because they liked vespas or were suprised to see one screaming at 100kmph on a toll road.
At the end of the road I paid the toll at the booth where the guy asked me," Didn´t you get stopped by the fuzz"?
"No", was my puzzled reply. "Why do you ask"?
"Thats a moped that is and thats not allowed on big boys roads".
Cheeky. My little vespa was a 200cc scooter not a C90! Moped. Phaah! Kinnigits!

Black magic woman
I finally reached Kenitra at about 6pm and it was dark. The first thing I noticed was the amount of Bars and discotheques around town. That probably explains all the drunks I had to avoid who were wandering in and around the paths and roads with less abandonment that a freely wandering Indian cow.
I checked into the first hotel I found, which turned out to be a quite expensive 3 star hotel with its own bar and discotheque.
Excellent. Maybe now I can teach everybody how to do the ´Peanut Duck´.
At the crowded bar, Katrina, decided she wanted to take me home with her. Guessing her circumstances I declined the offer. I paid a lot of money to stay in that hotel and by golly I was going to sleep there! Along with the fact that, although she was a nice enough lady, she just wasn´t my type, what with her being old enough to have built the medina and trying her best to get me to buy her drinks. After she went off in a huff because I refused to buy her drinks I ended up talking to a couple of locals who liked to get drunk. One of them suprisingly, drinks pints.
All I can say to these guys is, "Oued Sabou daze naid". To which Mohamids´ reply will be,
"Touts naid floord".
Don´t ask me what it means. I was too busy rolling on the floor holding my stomach, laughing hard. He told me he was talking english. I didn´t believe a word of it.
What I did believe however was that these Moroccan guys hated the French even more than we do.
"Yeh....How much"?
After a short thoughtful pause came their reply," ...A lot".
I had to decline the offer of staying at Mounirs bachelor pad the next day as I needed to get back to Blighty sooner rather than later. Thanks Mounir. We´ll eat at Mohamids restuarant next time. Get the beers in.

Rusty Lee
The next day, feeling a little hazy, I headed out of town towards a large nature reserve which just may have flocks of Flamingoes and migrating birds who stop at this massive lake along with herds of Wilderbeast roaming majestically through the plains and migratiry european swallows gripping coconuts by the husk. But alas no. There wasn´t that much to see.
A few ducks was about all.
At this point I remembered Diss.
Again I stopped off at plenty of places to take some pictures, mainly of the Vespa, who was now starting to get used to the camera and posing without a care in the world.
I was by the fishing port of Kenitra when I suddenly realised that I was missing my phone. It had gone. I think it had fallen on the road somewhere near the traffic calming hump in the road that I didn´t notice until it was too late.
I also did not realise that the Vespa knew how to fly. Just how high was that last speed bump?
So, I believe that some lucky fisherman had a great catch that day and is now the proud owner of a nice Nokia. D#*m and blast again!
Whilst posing for the camera the Vespa lost it´s footing in the sand and fell over a couple of times. She may have been drunk I´m not sure. Maybe it was the engine additive I added the day before by mistake.

Fanny Craddock
Leaving my phone behind I headed north once more. This time I was heading towards Tetouan, the first town that me and Kevin stopped at when we first arrived in Morocco.  This also meant that I was nearing the end of the Moroccan adventure, something I was not loomking forward to doing. So I decided to stop off at a town called Larache where I ended up staying for a couple of nights, trying to prolong the inevitable.
This time I found a cheap hotel room (with TV. - bonus!) for 70Dh.
The only trouble was I had to watch the same TV channel as the receptionist was watching.
After fighting a loosing battle I decided that, actually, Miss Marples in Arabic with french subtitles wasn´t all that bad.

Then at the critcal moment in this gripping story, the channel promptly changed to an important debate between Arabic dignitaries. 10 minutes later I discovered how to change channels. Unfortunatly Miss Marples was the best the TV could offer. Then it changed channels again. This time sticking to Portuguese football.
Moroccans love football.
Everynight, in all the bars, in all the towns, in all the world football is being watched.
The coffee bars are always full of spectators, spectating football.
During all the small conversations I´ve had with locals, all about football, I ´ve had to fake an interest in football.
I told them that Chelsea was my team.
They babbled back with a mixture of consonants and syllables, all names of players I believe.
I did recognize a few names but I could not repeat them. I was out of my depth. I vaguely remember the super blues, Ipswich Town, winning the F.A. Cup way back in 1978(?) and Diss Town winning the F.A. Vase in 1992(?) but I could not tell you who Chelsea have just signed.
In these coffee bars you had to drink the tea like whisky and smoke like a 35 year old 2 stroke engine. Oh yeh. And watch football.

TV Dinner
So here I am at 10pm, still in my Larache hotel room, watching Portuguese footballers falling over. In the room above I can hear the occupant rising from his bed, ready to start his night shift of moving furniture.
Moving furniture around his room.
In the room below is an extremely rowdy game of chequers.
In the room next door is carpenter, practising for his masters degree in hammering nails into hard wood.
The noise outside my door, which sounded like a large lady beating the living daylights out of a heavy rug with a large cast iron spade was in fact a large lady beating the living daylights out of a heavy rug with a large cast iron shovel.
The following morning I decided that enough was enough and I´d better start the 100km journey back to Tetouan as w*rk was calling and I had to start thinking about going back home.
Back to bed, back to reality.
See you in Tetouan.
A family enjoying a TV dinner yesterday

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