Saturday 12th October, 2019 – Casablanca, Morocco.
I slept for the 45 minute flight to Casablanca and my arrival was what I’d expected. I was held up going through passport control because they had not stamped my passport in Fes!
The security at Casablanca airport had increased since I arrived in Africa 7 weeks ago. Military and police carrying machine guns everywhere and constant security checks.
After 10 minutes of being questioned in both Arabic and French and not being able to answer, they gave up and let me through along with an English man who had the same problem.
Despite me showing Security my scars and pictures of my titanium parts, they were not satisfied. I once again asked for someone who could speak English, but they just made me sit by myself for 30 minutes while they stared and kept asking me questions ….. in Arabic and French!
I’d had enough, so I showed them the X-rays of my knees one more time and became a little aggressive.
“No problem, you may go through” was the response in perfect English!
I was finally through and sat down for the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted.
I was staying at a hotel about 20 minutes from the airport and the check-in time was 3pm, but I had contacted the hotel via email, my Expedia booking app and by phone to get an early check-in.
They didn’t respond to – not even to my Expedia messages which had been read – and when they answered the phone it was the same old “I don’t understand English” response.
It was only 8.30am, but I was tired, agitated and needed a rest.
I climbed into a 1970 model Mercedes Benz taxi that was the most unroadworthy vehicle I’ve ever seen and went to the hotel. I was greeted by a reception full of staff that could speak perfect English!!!!!!
I only had to wait an hour or so and they got me into a room. The hotel was great, had English TV channels and a nice restaurant. A quick breakfast and then up to the room to get some sleep.
My search for decent food in Casablanca was a bit like it was in Fes. The service is never good and the food …… well …..
I went for a walk about 2pm and found a small local “Steak House” that looked quite nice.
The food described on the menu at the steakhouse was nothing like what they served up. I’m not sure what type of animal I ate, but it definitely wasn’t beef or lamb!
For dinner, I had found a Pizza Hut about 2km away on Google maps and decided to walk there and grab a pizza. It was an uncomfortable walk and was similar to the area I was dropped in near Old Medina – no Westerners and lots of very dodgy looking people.
My attempt to order even by pointing at items on the menu was useless. Another customer there spoke a bit of English and helped me, but when I asked for takeaway he told me it is best to eat in the restaurant.
I should have listened to the local guy and ate there.
The moment I walked outside the shop with a pizza box and a large bottle of Pepsi it was on – there was yelling and screaming, and mothers sending their children over to get some pizza from me.
By the time I made it back to the hotel I was exhausted mentally and physically, I could only imagine what would have happened to me had I hit one of the women or kids with the Pepsi bottle. Straight to my room to enjoy my cold pizza and hot Pepsi.
My alarm went off at 6am the next morning and I was on my way to Casablanca airport – I was finally going home. Seven weeks in Africa is enough.
It has definitely been one of my most exciting and demanding trips I’ve ever done. There were a lot of crazy experiences and I’m happy to have survived the Sahara Desert dunes.
I miss Katie and the kids so much. I need to get home to my own bed and some good food, go back to work and get ready to do this all again on a much harder scale in January when we tackle the Africa ECO Race.