BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Fez to Casablanca. Will we find Rick's Place when we get there?

Sunday 17/2/13

We loaded up the bike early today and left for Casablanca. The guy in the car park wanted one dirham for looking after our bike for two nights. That's about ten cents. We're generous so we gave him two, and he gave us a big smile.

As we climbed aboard the the small barge called our bike the Muslim women across the road were calling out to us. Suzanne said they were begging, but I don't think so. They all looked very well dressed and presented to be beggars. As we rode off they all waved to us and yelled goodbye.

Our first stop was to get fuel for the bike. We pulled up at the pump and the attendant came over. Yes, attendant. They actually fill your tank for you here. As he was filling the tank he asked where we were from and we got the usual reaction when we said Australia. "Oh, long way!" Welcome to Morocco" and a big smile. They must have run a TV tourism campaign here or something.

Star Wars Sand Person working on his car.
This was the taxi drivers service station.

Then the mission of finding our way out of Fez, and the road to Casablanca began. We rode around heading in the general direction of Casablanca (West), rode past the Medina, and around in a big circle to nowhere. We did see a few sights though...

A little palace.

A Fez back street.

More road side stalls.

The old wall.

Then a guy on a moped stopped and asked where we were going. He was a fixer, and when we said Casablanca he asked why we didn't want to go to the Medina. We explained that we had been the day before. Instead of riding off he pointed us in the right direction, with a few simple instructions to find our way to the road to Casablanca. Thanks mate. We were on our way.

The road to Casablanca.

As we left Fes we were amazed at the large number of satellite dishes that were on roofs. There were thousands of them.

Pretty soon we were on the motor way, covering some serious miles. Then we caught up with a yellow van with the back door open. Hanging out of the back door were five or six guys, with a yellow flag, yelling and cheering. Then they broke into a song. We guessed they were football supporters or something like that. We passed them, then let them pass us and passed them again so we could take some photos. We stopped a bit further up the road to take photos of some cars, so we had to pass them a third time. Each time they were more vocal.

Passionate supporters, but of what?

It was here that I started to feel right at home. We were on a motor way with a 120 kph speed limit, and there were speed cameras in boxes on the side of the road. There were also Highway Patrol type coppers who had hand held radar. I reckon we saw about ten today. The cancer spreads.

Then we saw a lot of old Renaults going the other way. First a couple, then five in a group, then a few more, and it went on for ages. Suzanne and I estimated that there may have been two or three hundred of them. It must have been some sort of rally.

Old Renault Rally?

We pulled into a roadhouse for lunch, and as we rolled to a stop a bunch of guys were piling into a car, and they were wearing yellow scarves. I asked if they could speak English and got the usual "a little" reply. After a bit of back on forth we worked out that they were going to a football game. It was Fes versus Casablanca. They were Fes Tigers supporters, and now, so were we. I wonder if we could get to the game tonight? As they left one of the guys shook our hands and said "Welcome to Fez."  Thank you, and we're very happy to be here.

Our fellow supporters.
Carn the Tigers.

We had a burger and chips for lunch, then I ran across the motor way to go and have a look at a couple of the Renaults I saw parked in the service station. I couldn't believe my eyes, there were about fifty of them parked there. Add that to the hundreds we saw on the road and you have a serious car group.

A small (very small) sample of the cars involved.

Cars this old need constant maintenance.

A lot of effort goes into preparation.

I spoke to a group of participants and luckily the could speak English, so I asked them what was going on. My understanding is that a group of people drive from France down to Marrakesh every year and donate much needed items to the schools there. Along the way they drive for four days through the Sahara covering about four or five hundred kilometres. Then they drive back to France. Oh yes, they have to drive a Renault 4L that stopped being produced in the early nineties. 

The crunch came when I asked how many cars there were on the rally. Fourteen hundred! Yes, one thousand four hundred Renault 4Ls all going to the same place at the same time. That makes most of the cars older than the drivers. Oh boy!

Meet , Titouan Seguine, Lucile and her brother 
Maxme Pilot, and Vincent Coez.

Lucile and brother Maxme Pilot's blog can be found here: 

And more on the Renault 4L trophy here:

I reckon this would be a bit of fun. 2015 anyone?

After our interesting and informative lunch break we were back on the road to Casablanca. We rode through Rabat and two things struck us as odd. Firstly there were hundreds of families either camping, or picnicking among the trees on the side of the road. Why? Secondly, there were small stacks of things for sale on the side of the road. They were earth coloured, and looked a little like small upturned pots. What were they?

Can someone help us out and tell us what these are?

A few hours later we entered Casablanca. First impressions? It's much more western than Fez, a bit more touristy, and just another big city. It was a bit of a let down. Maybe I was expecting Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to be waiting for us. 
"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into  mine." 

It does have a bloody huge Mosque though, and it's very impressive.

We stopped at a set of lights while we were riding around looking for our hotel and a young guy pulled up next to us on a scooter, smiled, and asked us where we were from. After we replied, can you guess what he said? Yes, "Welcome to Casablanca." Then he rode off. What the hell is going on?

We found the Ibis but it was the wrong one. It was the expensive one, not the cheap one. It had been a long day and we were tired, so we checked in anyway. We both wanted a hot shower after two days of just warm water. It was luxurious.

Then it was time to find out where tonight's football game was being held, if we could get tickets, and how to get there. It must have been an early start because when I turned on the TV it was half time. Oh well. Maybe next time. We sat downstairs in the bar and watched the game which ended in a nil all draw.

We'll have a poke around here tomorrow morning, then it's off to Marrakesh. I wonder if we'll see Crosby, Stills, and Nash at the railway station?

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