Escape from Morocco
Updated: Sep 20, 2020
We wanted to spend winter somewhere warm. Morocco sounds like an exciting destination.
We wished for adventure and boy oh boy…what an adventure we had!
The exotic country of Morocco. The richest and most developed country in North Africa.
We’ve heard so much about it, famous authors getting their inspiration in Morocco and it being a popular Hollywood filming locations . Even parts of Games of Thrones was filmed there. We were excited.
We boarded the ferry from Algeciras in Spain to Tanger Med in Morocco and with VanGar we landed on this much dreamt about country on Christmas eve, 24 December 2019.
Morocco is beautiful. We visited the Sahara Desert TWICE, one at Merzouga in the East and M’hamid in the West. We had a guest who joined us in January 2020 for a 10 days tour from Casablanca, Marakesh, Ouarzazate to the Sahara Desert in Merzouga and then to Fez and Chefchouen. Names of towns we didnt even know how to pronounce, from the snow to the desert and everything in between. It was wonderful. We fell in love with Morocco.
On 13 March 2019 we were on our way to the port to leave for Spain when news of the Corona virus pandemic got worse and news got around that the borders with Spain will be closed.
We were only a day away from Spain.
The situation was dire. Either we push on and try to cross into Spain before the borders are closed or remain in Morocco indefinitely. The whole day was spent discussing our options and we decided to head back down South 1000km to a French owned campsite that we visited earlier in January. We knew it was clean, nice and a safe place to be if Morocco were to declare a State of Emergency.
We also did not want to be stuck at the border if it is closed as our experience of being stuck for hours in traffic at the border of Singapore Malaysia taught us that it is not an ideal situation to be in. It did turn out that we made the right decision as we found out later that about 5000 motorhomes were stuck at the border without amenities. No water, electricity, food and facilities for days!
We ended up having a wonderful time at the campsite, Camping Takat in Agadir. More than three months of living in confinement within the campsite. Like those in a zombie apocalypse movie. The world can go crazy while life goes on in our little safe bubble with 52 other motorhomes, one 4X4 car and one motorcyclist. We were happy.
However, we cannot stay in Morocco forever. One by one, we saw our fellow campers leaving for their homeland but us, with no help in sight. Europe was evacuating their citizens. Being Singaporeans, non EU citizens with a vehicle from The Netherlands proved to be a challenge in this pandemic.
Our consulate has no other solution except to put us on a plane to London which meant we would have to leave VanGar in Morocco, indefinitely. That was not a viable solution for us. As the days went by anxiety and worry crept in. Fellow campers, our Swiss and French friends at the campsite wrote and petitioned to their consulates to help us cross into Europe but to no avail when finally, we had good news from our German friends. Their consulate had agreed put us on the German evacuation ferry on 3 July 2020.
Off we go 1000km up to Tangier port to get our ferry tickets and leave Morocco for Spain praying and hoping that nothing too exciting will happen on our way up North.
We left our final campsite, a Shell gas station near the port at 5.15am to queue for entry to the port. Adrenalin were running high and we were excited to hold our ferry tickets to “freedom”. We were refused entry!
The port authority had no record of us or VanGar. Our car registration number and names were not on the list. WE WERE NOT ON THE LIST! We were told to go to the back of the queue and this time some 80 cars were waiting in line in front of. As good Singaporeans do, we did as told but still was refused entry.
Time was running out. The ferry was to leave at 11am. All the German vehicles had boarded and we could only plead with the Moroccan police and the gatekeeper there to let us in. All in vain.
11AM. Heartbroken and hope lost, we pointed VanGar to Tetouan, perhaps back to Chefchaouen some 200km away. 10km on we decided to give a last desperate text to the Singapore Consulate in Casablanca. Lo and behold, our prayers were answered and our text we replied.
Along the way our consulate managed to contact the German consulate and they called us for our location! No, we were not far away. We were practically at the port gates, we said. We drove back to the port. IN RECORD TIME! We gave a big wave and a happy smile to the police officers and the port officials and boarded VanGar to into the belly of the ferry with our friends, Franscoise giving us hearty shouts of welcome from the 3rd deck and a several waves from Woldgang.
Finally, the ferry set sail at 1pm and we bid Morocco goodbye.
We are grateful to Franscoise and Wolfgang as well as the German and Singapore consulates in getting us out of Morocco where we stayed for 7 wonderful months! In spite of the pandemic. We miss Morocco already! It is such a wonderful country with warm hearted and welcoming people. “Nice people, nice country” as our friend Mustafa would say every day. By the way he owns and run the beautiful Amazigh Auberge and Camping in Tamtetoucht, at the Todra Gorge.
Also thanks Camping Takat and our French friends who made our 3 months confinement in Morocco wonderful and memorable, to our Swiss friends, Maisonmitsu and their adorable little daughter that filled our lives there with songs and laughter!
Goodbye Morocco. Onwards to Europe we go!!!