Friday 11th October, 2019 – Fes, Morocco.
Last 2 days in Morocco – wow!!
I had an extra day at the Marriot in Fes to rest before I flew to Casablanca. My body is really run down and I have a few good injuries from my time in Africa to recover from.
I spent the first morning with Tess and Hernan before they started their 4 day drive back to Valencia and then on to Switzerland.
Pablo flew back to Madrid last night. We have lived together in hotel rooms and desert camps for the past 7 weeks.
There were many times when one or both of us would be down and feeling lost, wondering what the f#*k are we putting ourselves through this for. It was great to talk at the end of the days racing and know that someone else feels the same.
Pablo has a wife and 3 young kids and like myself was feeling guilty everyday about being away from them, but we kept reminding ourselves about the opportunity we have been presented with and the sacrifices we have to make.
There’s a nice shopping centre in Fes that has a Burger King, Pizza Hut and McDonalds, and I decided I would catch a cab there to get something normal to eat.
But getting a cab in Morocco always has its problems, and I now had no one with me that could speak French or Spanish.
The cab driver seemed to understand where I wanted to go and I showed him the address on Google maps.
But as happens in Morocco, he picked up a couple of other passengers on the way and I was crammed in the back seat listening to them all yell and scream in Arabic.
And as we passed the shopping centre my requests to stop were ignored!!
A couple of times I attempted to get out of the cab as it was slowing down but it was too dangerous and I had no success. I now felt like I was in a dream as we were in some very run down crowded streets and there was not another Westerner in sight.
If you’ve watched any of the American war movies set in Afghanistan where they drive through war-torn streets in armoured vehicles – then this is what it was like for me right now.
I was now completely lost. The driver and the others in the car, and in fact the whole situation, was starting to worry me.
I normally remain reasonably calm in these situations but this time I started to yell at the driver to stop the car.
He was ignoring me until I started to get very agitated and opened the rear door whilst we were driving at speed.
In the middle of a crowded street he slammed on the brakes and screamed at me in Arabic.
The whole situation was about to get gravely out of hand and I realised I needed to get out of it as quickly and safely as possible. I got out of taxi and he sped off with his other passengers.
As soon as I got my phone out to check where I was, the people came. Small kids grabbing my shorts, holding their hands out wanting money, fully Burqa clad women asking for money and hundreds of unstable looking men pointing and staring at me.
I was now very nervous and right out of my comfort zone. As quick as I could I walked about 1km to the end of the street and found a main road. I now had time to work out where I was.
I was in a remote part of Old Medina, a place I didn’t want to be in and there wasn’t a taxi in sight. There were plenty of donkeys, beggars, ancient buildings that looked like they had been bombed and hundreds of burka clad women blocking the street, but no taxis.
I walked about another 2km very quickly before I found a major road and after 20 mins finally got another taxi.
“Marriot Hotel, very fast, urgent”, I yelled at the driver and he was off breaking as many road rules as he could.
I missed out on my Burger King and went straight to the bar, had a beer and tried to digest what had just happened. This was the first time in Africa that I’ve felt really uncomfortable and in a bit of danger.
I ate at the hotel restaurant that night and went to bed early, I had to be up at 3am to fly to Casablanca in the morning.