Staying in one place - no choice!

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Africa » Morocco
April 17th 2020
Published: April 18th 2020
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Stuck isn’t a word I think of often! Its for children who get their arm wedged in the fence at a playground, those idiots at bream sands who get stuck in the sand, or that annoying jar lid that won't budge, but we have had to accept that for the last few weeks we have been stuck too, how did we get to this point, well if you have the stamina read on!

12th March Tanger Med Port closes - Our time with Laura and Martin was coming close to the end we had had an amazing 3 weeks together, some amazing memories. We were heading to Marrakech party town for a few nights together before they headed back to the UK and for us to have a couple of weeks downtime before we continued to explore the sites of Northern Morocco. I have for some time now had nights where sleep eludes me, and the night before we headed for Marrakech, Friday the 13th, I was awake. We were very aware of Europe’s Co-vid 19 situation and we had conversations about the impact of our return leg through Spain and France. We both held open return tickets back to Algeciras, Spain and for some reason I went onto their website to find ‘Le trafic maritime des passages est temporairement suspendu' they were stuck and I was going to have to be the one to break it to them in the morning!

13th - March Arrived Ourika Campsite As we travelled in convoy over the Tiz n Techka pass I felt for them, I know Laura was frantically trying to find a way out, announcing through the walkie talkie at one point ‘were going home Ava (The name of their van)is going home’ I so wanted it to be true but in my heart I knew it wasn’t possible and it wasn’t. Soon after she admitted defeat and we travelled slowly onward to our, what is turning out to be our last destination here in Morocco. Friday the 13th was for all the wrong reasons one we won’t going to forget for a while.

14th March - Restaurants, non essential shops and attractions close. - The morning after the reality sinks in, we have no idea of how long we will be here. There are some 37 vans here, 2 Swiss, 1 German, 13 Dutch, us 3 Brits, leaving 19 French vans and they are all looking for a way out! Whilst the Port is now closed the Airport is still functioning, and there's a scrabble to get tickets, some 10 van owners opt for this route, parking up their rigs for a long stay, with the inevitable flight back to collect them when things get back to normal. This really isn’t an option for us, with Poppy in tow we make the decision to only leave with the van when we can. Daily life settles into some sort of routine, the weather not consistently hot but pleasant, there’s no rush to get anything done, but you need to do enough as just sitting around all day is also not an option, Laura and Martin struggle with this more that we do and the desire for them to get back to their house, torments them more than it does us. Our trip was never due to finish until June so we are mentally adjusted for a long trip, so can play the waiting game.

16th March - Campsite Lockdown - We are now requested not to leave, that's easy for us as our only method of transport is our bikes, but the French insist on visiting the local Carrefour on what seems to with alarming regularity. It all boils over as the various French campers end up arguing at the campsite gates with Mohammed, the now upgraded manager. As he is managing the state of emergency here from just a few days ago having been the campsite receptionist. The French continue over sometime with differing opinions on who and when should be leaving the campsite, it appears to us that some compromise is taken, and soon afterwards the campsite is split into 3 shopping groups. We now have a weekly shop run to Carrefour for supplies. We check again with Mohammed about the obligatory dog walk, which keeps us sane and that will still be allowed, and to be honest we really don't see anyone, or at close proximity, yes we can, phew!

23rd March - Circuit Training starts – In a move to keep us fit, the gym equipment that Graeme laughed at when I asked him to pack comes out and is now getting used 3 x weekly, initially the four of us, it now extends to the swiss couple Sonja and Hans Peter and Manuela the German lady.

24th March - There’s a mad dash to Cueta for a supposed sailing to Spain – Almost after the event. We didn’t get the e-mail from the Embassy, so were not one of the hundreds of vans who did and set off to the Moroccan border. The problem is that when they get there the border is closed, suffice to say some 400 vans are now stuck with no service's and more importantly no water! We watch with interest from afar. The Morrocans are amazing within days the van are returned to Tanger Med, a temporary Aire is provided, services and even 2 containers are brought in to supply groceries. Eventually the boat sails to Sete in France, but there is not enough room for all the vans, will there be another sailing !?!?

25th March - Fresh bread starts being delivered each morning – In order to stop the inevitable trips to the shops we now have a box at the gate to collect ours daily

29th March - We find there’s another ferry to Sete - Only again by chance, we find out at 4pm there will be another boat to Sete in France, and the Embassy is now asking those interested to notify them by 6pm!?! Laura is keen to book, we take 15mins to discuss and decided that a protracted ferry sailing getting us back to the UK having found out that campsites are now closed in the UK. So we have no sure way of knowing whether we could get back into our home, this is more of a risk than staying put. I hope with hopes that Laura and Martin booking is approved.

30th March - No it’s not a booking yet! – So the website says the ticket line will open at 11am, it bombs, the campsite Wi-Fi struggles to cope, but eventually after several stressful hours they have the ticket all the approved paperwork to allow them safe passage, I am stressed, exhausted and it’s not even us going.

31st March - Laura and Martin leave – There turns out to be a Dutch couple also booked on the same boat and after a quick discussion, they want to travel in convoy, this means that what was supposed to be our last night together is thwarted as the Dutch want to leave in 2hrs. A hurried pack, making plans where they will stop enroute overnight to the Port, a wave off at the gate, the French significantly interested in what is happening. I heave a sigh of relief as they depart, but also start to cry.

3rd April - veg starts being delivered to the campsite gate.

5th April - Laura and Martin arrived back safely to the UK.

7th April - Extra Measures - Face masks to be warn when leaving the campsite.

14th April - Morocco records first “Death Free” day in 3 weeks. Total cases stands at 1,888 the UK has 93,873 and significantly more deaths per 1m population 178, Morocco is 3! Perhaps that’s why we feel safe here.

15th April - so we have gone and done it, we have booked an Italian ferry line, GNV, ticket to Barcelona from Tanger Med for the 9th of May. Our only concern is whether it really is going to arrive and will we really sail, or are they just hedging their best, only time will tell!

16th April - Have we made a mistake! By the following day we find out that GNV,we believe, doesn't have authority to land in either Morocco or Spain so now it’s a waiting game to see what unfolds! There is one earlier sailing on the 5th so we wait patiently to see what happens with that. Knowing that the sailings that were also available originally for the 20th and 28th of April were cancelled with people being issued vouchers, our hope is that things will have improved by 9th of May. We also hold our return ticket to Algeciras so we covered on all bases.

Wish us,luck


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