The coast


29 October 2008 - Essaouira - added by Steve

We have finally managed to arrange visas for Mauritania! This has been a rather arduous process as we attempted to get the visas in our South African passports when we entered Morocco on other passports. (South Africans not being the most popular visitor to Moroccan shores since we supported the Sahawari in the Western Sahara conflict.) Naturally the Mauritanians were very suspicious of the fact that our passports had no entry stamp. Luckily, with a bit of explanation, the ambassador eventually decided to allow us to have our visas in our SA passports, which is great. We're especially hopeful waving our African-ness in the face of border officials will help in our anti-bribe-extraction techniques! Perhaps a pipe-dream but you never know!

We were not so lucky with getting visas for Mali unfortunately. The ambassador was away, and in true African style no-one was sure where nor when he would be back, and consequently the beaurocratic machine ground to a halt! Having spent 5 days in Rabat already dealing with the Mauritanian visa issue, the prospect of further stay with no determinable end date was not ideal, so we have decided to put off getting the Malian visa until a later city and a later date! More Africanisms we will just have to get used to!

Unfortunately Rabat wasn't the greatest experience we've had thus far. We arrived after dark and during rush hour, which in Africa is never a fantastic experience, and after what seemed an interminable hack through traffic we arrived at the campsite to find it had closed! After more driving and searching for alternatives we eventually threw in the towel and again found ourselves staying in a car park. Far from the worst we've had so far this one was next to a lighthouse on the sea, so wasn't too bad actually.



However, after 5 days struggling with the vagaries of African beaurocracy we were getting tired of our car park, especially when our water ran out and the loo filled up! Get me drunk one day and I might tell you how we sorted the latter problem out... I'm not saying any more here!

So as it was, when we encountered the Malian hurdle, we were happy to laugh it off and depart post haste! We followed the coast south to a tiny village called Oualidia which is on a beautiful lagoon next to the sea. It has a stunning campsite which we had almost to ourselves, and although the downside is you get offers from about 20 separate fishermen every morning (which gets a bit tiresome), the day's catch is brought to your door daily. Thus we gorged ourselves on calamari, mussels, prawns, sole and other seafood... sometimes it's really tough in Africa!



Rox doing the washing!

It was here that we celebrated Roxy's 29th birthday with Nick, and Martin and Jet (www.whataboutafrica.org ) who have been in convoy with us since Rabat. Much hilarity ensued, especially after dinner around the campfire when Rox entertained us with some remarkable African dancing... I'm not sure the Europeans really appreciated how genuinely African this dancing was, but that will come... needless to say the next day dawned with several hangovers!



From Oualidia we went to Essaouira, where we are now. It is a beautiful and relaxed town further down the coast, which has well preserved ramparts complete with brass canons jutting into the sea and a medina which is a maze of tiny streets, bright colours and weird and wonderful smells.



Essaouira is a bit of an artists town, and so has loads of arty shops which we've spent hours browsing through. It also has a great market where we bought a huge array of local food... although only a sampling, as some of the offerings weren't the most appetising... Rox didn't particularly enjoy the severed goat's head staring back at her! We had our second surfing lesson today which is proving to be great fun. We're not quite ready to star in Point Break but watch this space... you never know!



Tomorrow we head inland for Marrakech, and then will turn south to cross the Atlas Mountains and head for the Sahara Desert and Mauritania!



Comments:

1 .
I'm not going to say that we are not worried about you,because we are; but you are having a wonderful experience. Marrakesh sounds very romantic,sheiks in the desert and so on;hold on to her,Steve. Take care. Gran
Angela Vousden - 2 Nov 2008, 14:41
2 .
You look so relaxed guys. And look like you are getting some sun!! It is frezzing here. Please take lots of xcare. Love to you both. xxxxx
Jan Goosen - 2 Nov 2008, 18:31
3 .
Don't dive into a sandbank in your efforts to surf - could have rather dramatic consequences! Sounds like you are having loads of fun - keep it up and keep safe. hope the desert is a great experience. love Foxxils
Fossil s - 2 Nov 2008, 20:18
4 .
I am confused 1) Was Roxy washing clothes or her feet in the cool box; 2) Why was the cool box not full of beer and ice, rather than Roxy's feet?
Col - 4 Nov 2008, 2:42
5 .
I’m sure all the exploring/adventuring bits are very interesting… :-) .. but I want detail of the truck’s performance, damn it! How is the body roll? Does it need dampening? How does it affect the handling? Detail, Man..details! Just kiddin, guys.. have a great time. Can we have more frequent reports for us work-bound explorers?
Jono - 4 Nov 2008, 15:21
6 .
I am very impressed that the cool box / washing machine matches the truck! Happy belated b-day Rox!
Karla - 4 Nov 2008, 23:15
7 .
Hi Steve, we have a phone number for an agent in North africa that does sell compression fridges. It is 00971 43212160 Hope this helps and you are having a fantastic time. I am really jealous. Linsey...
Ed Perry - 7 Nov 2008, 11:21
8 .
Hey Steve & Roxy. Missing you guys loads, and hoping you having an amazing time. Keep checking gmail chat to see if you online. Speak soon hopefully. Hope all is well. Cheers Thorks.
Thorks - 11 Nov 2008, 11:17
9 .
Stunning pic of you doing the washing Rox!Sounds like you guys are having a blast. We missed you this weekend at the Old Neptune - lots of dodgy pics on FB though for you to look at! Lots of love, McGhee xxx
Katy - 11 Nov 2008, 18:40
10 .
hey, how are you? in Gambia yet? we are home now and already missing africa. It was nice meeting you at Zebrabar and Lac Rose. We will mail you the pictures of your truck stuck on that road. Hope to here from you, Caroline and Daan (red 2CV)
daan en caroline - 23 Nov 2008, 23:35
11 .
Hi, your dad tells me that all is going well, great. We start xmas next Sat with 1st xmas dinner at Sylvan Ave, then here for Brian,s youngest son, Chris, wife & 2 year old on the 13th and so on until 25th, about 8 in all. It's a pity we can't have 1 braai and get it over with, I like to celebrate on the Winter Solstice so may have a fish braai for 1. Where will you be at xmas? Thinking of you, much love Gran
angela vousden - 26 Nov 2008, 18:16
12 .
Hi, your dad tells me that all is going well, great. We start xmas next Sat with 1st xmas dinner at Sylvan Ave, then here for Brian,s youngest son, Chris, wife & 2 year old on the 13th and so on until 25th, about 8 in all. It's a pity we can't have 1 braai and get it over with, I like to celebrate on the Winter Solstice so may have a fish braai for 1. Where will you be at xmas? Thinking of you, much love Gran
angela vousden - 26 Nov 2008, 18:16
13 .
Dont worry about getting a 5 day Mali visa you can purchase one at the border and have it extended in Bamako at the Immigration office Cost of visa at border is 15,000 CFA for more information you can email us for GPS coordinates of office in Bamako Janet and Tom www.adventurouspirits.com
Janet and Tom - 27 Nov 2008, 14:23
14 .
Hi Steve and Roxy, Hope all goes well. We watch the Journal with interest and wish you both a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as the miles fly by.
Jon and Nicky - 12 Dec 2008, 18:45

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