Friday, October 7, 2016

Mohammedia and Casablanca, Morocco

October 7 - 10

We left Gibraltar in the morning just after our new friends Nadja and Manuel s/v Manado and as we were overtaking I snapped a photo. As we were passing Manuel jokingly said that passing is forbidden in the Straight of Gibraltar. LOL

Nadja and Manuel on s/v Manado
We arrived into Mohammedia at 8:11 AM and dropped our anchor awaiting more light. Upon lifting our anchor the chain snagged onto some rocks. Shaun had to move the boat forward with high RPM's. It finally gave way as the whole boat dipped forward. Whew! We didn't have to dive on the anchor.

Finally free from the rocks we headed in to check out the "marina". It was small, very full and we were unable to get a hold of anyone. We turned around and went back out to another anchorage (sand bottom) so that we could figure out what to do. We decided to drop the dinghy and Shaun would go in and inquire if there was space.

Off he went to find out who to speak to and what the process was. Upon arrival back to the boat we stowed the dinghy and were off back into the marina. We ended up docking on a filthy dock covered in bird poop. This particular marina is a glorified fishing marina. It is a safe harbour for vessels but the facilities are lacking, are not clean and it is a walk into town for anything. If you are prepared for it then it works.

One of the nice features of checking into Morocco is that the port police and customs officer come to you. There is no need to run all over hells half acre. We were asked to pick up our passports at the immigration office along with our shore passes later that day. The second best thing is that most people speak french allowing our family to communicate fairly well.

We decided that we would take a walk into town and find a bank machine. We walked along and noticed a lot of urban decay and our noses were assaulted with a variety of smells. Not all good ones. Once we made it past the run down bit we came across a central park area that was very new. It was surrounded by caf├ęs and restaurants. This area was much cleaner and free from the noxious smells. We found a bank machine and just as we were finished a fellow approached us explaining that if this machine was not functional there was another one around the corner. He proceeded to explain that times were hard and he needed to save money to repair his teeth. We donated a small amount and then we were off.

one of my favourite birds the egret 
the central garden in town
a round-a-bout on the way to the train station
date palm trees lining the street
The following morning we were approached by an agitated fellow whom we had never seen before. He asked how long we were staying and I explained that we had permission for 3 - 4 nights. He then proceeded to get even more upset. He asked who gave us this permission as he was the one in charge and that he hadn't given said permission. After a few more minutes of discussion and translating (in a more polite way what Shaun was piping in), the fellow finally asked how long we wanted to stay. I truly think he took pity on me having to translate. We asked for 7 nights. Throughout this conversation he was trying to explain that we were not in a marina per say. He wanted to be able to allow all boaters arriving into Mohammedia a chance to stay there and that it wasn't meant for long stays. I couldn't wrap my head around what he was getting at and that it should be first come first served. Anyway after the pissing contest we got our 7 nights. We gave him some cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey and life was grand.

The next day our friends on s/v Manado arrived. They had mentioned in previous conversations how excited they were to visit Marrakech. We came up with a plan and decided that we would all travel together. We also managed to book a traditional hotel called a Riad that we all could stay in.

The following evening we decided to take the train to Casablanca. It was a short 23 minute trip. Upon arrival our senses were overwhelmed with the chaos (busy, loud and pretty dirty). We were glad to head back after our asian dinner.

a clock tower near the medina in Casablanca 
art
cactus fruit a local delicacy
the chaos of Casablanca
dress shirt anyone
It wasn't long before we had to pack our bags and meet Nadia and Manuel to make the long walk up to the train station heading for Marrakech.

Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element



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