Sunday, December 2, 2012

In Africa ………..finally

OK this is our first story in the category challenging border crossings. We have the feeling that many will follow.

On Wednesday morning we left the Campground in Marbella at a leisurely pace, so we pretty much knew that we were not going to cross into Morocco that same day. We still had to do some grocery shopping and by the time we got to the harbor in Algeciras, it was late in the afternoon and we did not want to arrive in Morocco in the evening. We decided to buy tickets for the next morning. We could choose between taking the ferry to Ceuta (a small Spanish enclave in Morocco) or to Tangier-Med (a brand new harbor between Tangier and Ceuta). We decided to go to Tangier-Med because we had heard that the immigration and customs is a lot better organized than in Ceuta or in Tangier. (For the followers of our blog who are planning to go to Morocco: Even though on the websites of the different ferries they talk about height restrictions, when you buy the ticket at the ferry terminal in Algeciras they do not care about the dimensions of your vehicle. Even though Duma is 3.5m high on the ticket we were only 2m high. Also the prices were lower than what was quoted on-line, we paid 124 Euro).

Why put it in the van when it can fit on top
We bought the ticket and spent the night on a big parking lot between the harbor and the city of Algeciras. We were planning to take the 8am ferry the next day.  The next morning we got in line for the ferry at 7.15am. About 6 campers, 6 vans (loaded with so much stuff on top of the roof that they were taller than that they were long) and a couple of cars in front of us. No problem we thought………..until it was our turn to go through the gate.  The Algeciras Javier (the little A….hole seemed to have followed us from the Mercedes dealer in Malaga) ordered us to move to  the side and after that he only let small cars go through. Apparently they did not feel like taking anymore campers on the 8am ferry. But no problem said Javier we were first in line for the 11am ferry.

First in line
And so we waited, enjoying breakfast while watching emigrated Moroccans returning for a holiday, getting in line behind us (yes they still bring the washers, dryers, bicycles and mother in law with them (here is how they pack their car before their trip to Morocco:

At 10:30 we were the first one to get on the ferry (which is not good in this case because you will be the last one to get off). We also found out why only a few campers got on the 8am ferry. From another area big trucks were loaded onto the ferry, quickly taking up all the space. Obviously the ferry did not leave on time, but at 11.30 we left Algeciras and after about 2hours (we were told it would take 1.30 hour) we arrived at Tangier-Med.
On the ferry
 On the boat they already checked our passports, so the only thing needed now was to pass through customs. Since we were the last ones off the boat Marc just followed the other people and got in line. After 10 minutes we all found out this was the wrong line, you first needed to pick up a form at a booth 50 meters further. This form is for the temporary importation of the vehicle. Marc went back in line number one, showed the car papers, passport and the import form. He immediately noticed that the man with the moustache was getting confused because the name on the form and passport did not match the name on the car papers. Marc told him in his best French that his brother owned the car (Marc is not allowed to have a car registered in his name in Holland because he is not a resident). Now the moustache did not know what to do, so he turned to his boss, moustache nr. 2 (we found out the bigger the moustache the higher you are in the hierarchy at Moroccon customs). First the good thing. Moustache nr. 2 spoke English. Now the bad thing, in his best English he asked for an authorization letter from Marc’s brother. Don’t have it. OK then you have to go back to Spain. My brother does not live in Spain. You have big problem. Yes I understand how do we solve it? Can my brother  fax an authorization letter. After looking difficult and talking to some other moustaches he finally said yes.  What is the fax number? Now moustache nr. 2 got a little bit annoyed because he could not find a fax-number nor could any of the little moustaches. So he told Marc to go to the scanner. Scanner??? Marc thought we needed a fax machine. The scanner is this huge x-ray machine on a big truck that goes around your car/truck .

So we drove to another area and line up with 3 other cars for the scanner. We are waiting and waiting and waiting then little moustache nr.3  comes out of the scanner truck and says that the scanner is broken, now we all have to drive off the scanner and line up so they can do a manual check of the cars and truck. Clearly, moustache 3 is not happy that he has to search three cars and our camper. So he gets on the phone. Five minutes later a huge moustache appears on the scene, he goes in the scanner truck, comes out, makes some calls and the scanner is fixed. We drive around on the scanner again. Rosana is getting nervous that they will discover all the wine that we are bringing in. But three minutes later we are good to go back to moustache nr. 2. He apparently is still not happy and now he wants Marc to go to the police to have them check Marc’s passport.  So Marc goes to the police, who checks the passport and sends him back to m2. M2 now wanted to see the truck and inspect it himself. By this time everyone is through customs and we seem the last ones there, which apparently made m2 happy. He asked were Marc was from and when Marc told him that Rosana was from Brazil, he even started to smile as he did not believe it as she was too white. Anyway we opened the back of the truck but M2 had seen/heard enough, he gave us the paperwork back and we were free to go. Finally in Morocco.

We drove straight to Martil on the coast about 40km under Ceuta as we were planning to visit Tetouan the next day. However, yesterday it rained the whole day and it was pretty cold so we did not leave the truck. Today, the weather was better and we took a shared taxi to Tetouan (6 passengers + driver in a small car… yes it is possible), where we visited out first Medina. Here are some more pictures.


  1. Hey Moustaches!
    What a great story of your start on the African continent. We love the way you keep us informed, with movies, pictures and texts (very interactive!).
    Keep on moving and enjoy.
    Dre, Mies, Janne en Kris

  2. So was there any difference between Spanish inefficiency and Moroccan inefficiency besides all the German euros subsidizing the Spanish inefficiency? And should the UK give Gibraltar back to Spain?