Thursday 9 April 2015

Tuareg Rallye 2015: T Day -2

Ok so let's try and get things updated.

Apologies for anyone who has followed my posts on the Nomad Racing page on Facebook or on ADV Rider as you will now get pretty much the same, although now with the chance of reflection and looking back over the road books, I will be adding some extra detail and hopefully a few extra photos:

The fun and games commenced the moment we arrived in country....

Friday: Toureg Rallye -2

Arrived in Marrakech at 6.30pm and collected the hire car, got to the exit to the car park expecting to find some road signs to guide us to Ouarzazate.... No such luck!

John and I had downloaded Moroccan maps to our GPSs but mine couldn't be found on the device, heck even Marrakech wasn't showing on the extremely basic map that we could see. John's GPS was still in his suitcase but we later established the detail was insufficient to follow on his too.

A local sitting by the exit approached us and offered to lead us out to the correct road and jumped on his moped. We then had a mad dash across Marrakech through various short cuts with John and I thinking it must be some sort of scam, all the while following this crazily ridden moped.
The Marrakech traffic was something to behold, pure third world motoring with cars, buses, trucks, horse carts, motorbikes, donkeys and pedestrians, seemingly going in all directions at once! This continue until, sure enough he delivered us onto a main road leading out of town and told us this was the route to Ouarzazate. We had to take his word for it but we could establish it was heading out of the city so seemed OK. Then of course the negotiations started and we had to tell him we had no Dirhams yet. "No problem I take Euros" he says, yes but we have come from the UK so why the heck would we have Euros? We eventually settled on £10 Sterling, a bargain we decided!

Following the route which did turn out to be the main road to Fez, we then soon took a right hand turn towards Ouarzazate having seen a road sign at long last. This headed for the Tizi n'Ticha pass over the High Atlas just as the light started to fade!

This was a thrill a minute drive with crumbling roads, endless bends, locals on mopeds with no lights, pedestrians just ambling in the road and of course for me, all whilst driving on the "wrong" side of the road! the road eventually started climbing and lit only by a very impressive moon, we wound our way over the pass, having great fun trying to overtake lumbering, overloaded trucks that were reduced to a crawl on the steep slopes. 

We looked for somewhere to stop and eat but it was getting late and we still had not had a chance to get any Moroccan money and those places we did pass, didn't look very inviting. We also passed several Police checkpoints run by the Gendarmerie Royale but as soon as they saw we were foreigners, they just waved us through.

We arrived in Ouarzazate with the only clue to the location of the hotel being it was "next to the airport", apparently I should have received an email with the details but couldn't find it on my phone. At the obligatory Police checkpoint on the edge of town we stopped even though they were trying to wave us on and asked directions. Good job our basic French stretched to "Ou est l'aeroport?" The Police guided us there (thankfully it was just "go to the big roundabout and turn left") only to find..... nothing! The airport was deserted with no signs of any hotels nearby and certainly not any sign of 300 odd rally competitors. John recalled from the website that the official hotel was near the Ibis so we asked a local for directions and he guided us to the correct part of town. This was rather confusing and in the end John switched on data roaming on his phone, got the Hotel Ibis on Google Maps and we eventually arrived at the hotel at 10.30 that night. He later discovered that download had cost him £20!

We met up with Radu, Anny, Sophia and Elvis, who had taken the long way round via Agadir to avoid the Tizi n'Ticha pass and had only recently arrived themselves. I saw that the bike was fine and we checked in. Of course the restaurant had closed and we hadn't eaten since the plane, so headed into town via a cashpoint only to find the only thing open was a souvenir shop but that thankfully had crisps, chocolate and bottled drinks for sale.

We eventually turned in ready for a day of admin…

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