Another, probably the 30th trip to Morocco has been accomplished. You may well settle into a groove after so many trips, but it turns out that our trips rarely go according to plan, especially if you have to cover such a distance. However, we managed to leave and return on time which was a considerable achievement taking into account the events which happened along the way.
Surprise No. 1 – despite the fact that the car successfully passed its MOT a month before, on the very day of our departure we found a grease stain shining on the asphalt just behind the car. Purchasing an additional bottle of oil turned out to be a good solution until we were able to take a closer look under the car in Zgorzelec. We decided to change the gasket to stop the oil leaking out. Despite the initial delay, we managed to reach the French border on the second day of our trip.
Surprise No. 2 – the second crew with their car decided to withdraw from the expedition. . .
Surprise No. 3 – it turned out that the ferry for which we got tickets earlier that day didn’t depart. And it was the last ferry. The row at the carrier’s office ended up in us getting a refund, another ticket to Tangier and high five with a guy with whom I’d previously had an argument (caused by language differences). The ferry was supposed to depart at 11pm, but it left at 2am. The Moroccan customs checks ran smoothly, taking slightly over one hour. Only at the last gate the lack of an official stamp was discovered and I had to return for it. . .
Surprise No. 4 – it was raining and snowing all across Europe and stopped only south of Fes. „Where’s this Africa?”
Fes was the first serious stop of our trip. I knew where to buy drums, lanterns and ceramics. I only forgot that most of the shops are closed on Fridays. But due to that we landed in a small workshop in which a gentleman was decorating ceramics using a steel bar.
It was pouring down with rain while we were trying to find an eating place intended for locals so as to avoid a tourist restaurant. We came across a place with shish kebab, where some onomatopoeic words helped us to place an order. We had shish kebabs made of „mooooo” and „cluck-cluck”. After polishing it off I asked Piotrek if he wanted to have another two. He agreed and I placed the order, but this time the onomatopoeic words didn’t seem to be working and instead of 2 kebabs we got another double portion. We managed to finish it but with no more bread at the end.
The next day we arrived at Midelt via Boumia. Holding a geological map on our laps we stopped in various places looking for the ammonites from the cretaceous or jurrasic period, but the rocks refused to reveal any specimens. We set off from Midelt to Mibladen, a village inhabited by miners who once worked in the local pit, where we distributed some packages with stuff for children.
It was nearly sunset when we reached the mines near Sidi Ayed. Houses without roofs and empty buildings without windows, sheep running wild and dreadfully dirty kids – here we left the rest of the clothes from our charity collection. Snot-nosed kids look better when smiling.
The next stage of our trip was the devonian carbonate mounds of Kess Kess which merit additional description. We reached them in the middle of the night, pitched a camp, lit a campfire, grilled sausages, had a few beers and went to sleep. Basia was determined not to sleep with Piotrek, so she ended up on the car roof and was apparently pleased with it the next morning. Her contentment would probably have been greater if she had remembered to take her sleeping bag with her.
Taouz and surroundings should be a must see place on every geological expedition. This is because first: you have to cover an offroad scenic route to the mines; second: you travel across limestone formations with fossilised crinoids; third: because of the mine itself; fourth and fifth are weathering and rock drawings which will be mentioned later.
It’s high time to mention surprise no. 5: Some 50 km from Alnif and 18 km from the nearest road, a short-circuit occured in our car. The starter motor didn’t stop after starting the car, there were several strange noises that resembled gunshots and a worrying smell reached us. With my heart in my mouth and nose to the ventilator we came back to Alnif, where, luckily enough, we found a car electrician who changed the starter motor. Of course he didn’t have a new one. He spent a couple of hours looking with his brother for some spare parts, undoing some ancient starters, combining their internals and walking with them to the nearby welding workshop which produces ornamental fences. . . I couldn’t believe he would make it, but in the evening we drove away from his workshop.
The next day Surprise no. 6 awaited us in Imilchil. During the installation of the new starter motor the cables from the radiator weren’t properly screwed in. We found the radiator to be empty and radiator fluid was vanishing in such a mysterious way that we weren’t able to find the source of the leak. This fact influenced the morale of the whole crew in a negative way, but we managed to get to Poland using a mixture of Moroccan blue coolant along with Spanish pink and French yellow. The Defender is still waiting for a new starter motor and gasket before we can set off for a trip again any time soon.Translation from the Polish: Paweł Jankowski