I should have slept well that night as the week-long delay was over and I could now get on with a holiday, even if it needed to be ammended. I couldn’t sleep, I now had a whole new set of issues to deal with. Insure the car, tax the car and even though I had the old V5 log book there were no papers to actually say the car was mine. Frank had completed the V5 transaction online and printed out the e-mail confirmation of transfer so that was handy. I had read that Moroccan officials were very particular about the vehicle documents being in order. That’s right people ‘Morrocan officials’, me, Shep and Dubless were going to Africa. Well we were certainly going to give it a good try. On the way back the previous night I had stopped to enquire about ferry prices at one of the many booths along the way selling ‘cheap’ tickets’. It was going to cost about £250 return with Dubless. There was no point in buying at that time as Dubless had been mine for only ten miles and I didn’t want to commit. Plus a friend, Mark, had written that he had purchased his ticket at the ferry port with ease. It was now getting light so I went to check that Dubless has managed to spend the night without wetting himself, the ground was dry, all four tyres were still holding air and all his fluids looked good. The engine started as it should and ticked over quietly. I checked the spare, its always a good sign when the spare is good and the original tool kit is in pristene condition. Ok that’s it book a ferry, tell the landlord you are moving out and beg him to look after you bike for a while. It was all good and DJ was going to stay under cover out of sight. It was time to pack, I put all the things I wanted to take on one bed and all the things I could leave behind on the other. When it was all laid out I wondered how DJ had ever pulled such a huge amount of stuff with me plonked on top as well
Their is an old add age about adventure bike travel it says lay out everything you want to take and put your money with it, now halve the stuff to take and double the money. That was certainly coming true on this trip.
I searched for ferry tickets and ‘aferry.com’ came up trumps with a two way ticket for just £152. Things were looking up. I was packed and ready to go, I needed air in the tyres and some fuel, although I had repeatedly drained fuel from DJ into a small bottle and transferred the 20L into the car. Well the bike wasn’t going to need it anytime soon. I set off down the slope from Rio Grande Hostal and out onto the road, with heightened senses I listened for any knock, rumble of clunk. There were none. I stopped to fuel up, they had no air for the tyres. To the ferry port without issue, this is going well I thought. At 4.30pm I boarded the ferry but not before having to show the ticket lady that I wasn’t actually carrying a dog. On the ferry I carried Shep upside down to the boot and closed it down. I didn’t want anyone thinking I’d left a dog in the car, so they could smash windows to stop the poor thing overheating. It was a high speed ferry and as such you couldn’t go outside, which was a blessing because it got very rough. Just past the end of Gibralter you could indeed see the mountains of Africa and within an hour we docked. As I drove off I was flagged down to be one of three cars searched by customs. The two cars in front, both with roofracks were full with plastic bags containing all sorts of merchandise presumably for resale in Morocco. In due course I was called forward, female officers checked all my tech in the front and opened the boot with a yelp as she discovered Shep. I had to make him roll over to prove he was a fake pet. Honestly this isn’t the fun idear I had originally thought it would be.
But finally, a week late, in a different vehicle, with a lot less money in my pocket and a totally different adventure to the one I had expected I rolled out of port and into Africa. Only it wasn’t! The port of Cueta is on the African mainland but is in fact still Spanish. Official Africa was 3 miles away and through immigration control.
The roads were much like those in Spain and the signs easy to follow. Now if you think customs at Heathrow is a palace, try Cueta. The queue was short but slow moving and there were fixers everywhere. Fixers are people who will aid you through the process for a few pounds. I had wanted to get by without one but shortly a skinny, tardy looking guy turned up at the window with papers in his hand. “I get you through, no cost”. I showed him that I had papers and I would be ok. He was rather persistent, to which an older shorter man came over and berated the youngster sending him away. This chap was calm and collected and he showed me his ID card. “I work here to help visitors” he said “Not like these others”. He said he would assist me through customs and passport control as it was my first visit. We chatted as the queue moved forward. He was Berber by birth and had moved here to work. Then he said “Do you think the ID helps?” At that point it dawned on me he was just another fixer with an ID which could have told me he was an animal welfare officer for all I knew. Lets hope he’s not Ive got an upside down dog in the boot. At passport control he handed my papers to the guy who stamped it and returned it. I then had to park the car and go to a Police office to get a visitor number, which involved filling in another form away from the office and returning. Then the car documents needed to be checked at another window. They were not ok. In anticipation of this I had contacted Frank from the ferry saying he needed to send me a note saying he had sold me the car and it was legally mine. However here at passport control there is no signal and I have no clue if the paperwork has arrived or if it would even help. I’m going to have to blag it. Between me and my helper I convinced the man in the booth the car was mine. I then had to chase after a senior officer to get his authority to enter, literally chase him round as he tried to ignore me. The fixer doing his best to get me through as well. Once that was stamped it was back to the booth where all my documents were input on a computer, even the chassis and engine number. Then Inhad to get two more stamps from two more fleeing officers and go back to the booth to be allowed in. My fixer had been great and probably worked harder for that entry than he anticipated. He then offered to take me on a week’s guided tour, seeing all the great places in Morocco. Well that’s every kind mate but I’m on an adventure on my own and you stink, get a bath and here’s £10 for getting me through. His reply “twenty would be better”. Our business concluded it was time to actually enter Africa.
- The beach at Milta, Africa
- There’s 20L in that tank I’m not leaving it
- Coffee to keep you awake forever
- These 130 pieces of paper contain all my details for the many police checkpoints, however they also say I’m on a motorbike!!!
- Shep loves the car
- Too much kit
- Last night’s campsite.