From Ceuta to Tetouan (2019-04-13)

My first ride in Africa ! More precisely was I in the Spanish enclave Ceuta which actually is just one (1) town. The ferry returned to Spain, I was now beyond the point of no return 💭. However every 20 minutes or so another ferry arrived and returned. Ceuta.Si, here I am ! It was time to start cycling. To the south that is. At the boulevard next to the harbour I had my first impressions. It was a small traject of only 1 kilometer from the ferry but it was important for my brain to make a stop here ... Ceuta is a nice town that shows off it's prosperity. While cycling to the border I got my first impressions of the Moroc landscape. It seemed more hilly then I had expected it to be. It is just a short trip from the ferry to the border and crossing it is a piece of cake. If you are by bicycle and can pass all (all !) those cars 👅. If you are by car you are having bad luck. You'll probably have to wait in the line for at least one hour (or two). And only the first car at the checkpoint is in the shade ... You have to fill out a small leaflet concerning the regular info, like your name etc 😲. Then the officer looks at his computerscreen and you maybe get the stamp in your passport with the date of entrance written in it. Depending on your nationality you will have 90 days allowance for your stay in Morocco.

That means that you have to cycle almost 30 kms in a straight line through Morocco every calendarday to get to the south in time 💪. Which is simply impossible and unwanted, and I have to find a solution for that ! More on that in a later post.

There are three lanes at this border but for some unknown reason there are four (!) checkpoints in series at each lane. At the last one a soldier asked me what was in my bags. "Clothes" I told him. "Oké" he sad, "bon route to you". "Thank you beaucoup and a bonne journee a vous" I replied. Morocco here I am ! Being a dutchman I don't need a visa since Morocco and the Netherlands have an agreement on that for a very long time already. In the 1960's the two countries agreed upon many Moroc men coming over to the Netherlands as immigrant workers to have a job in the textile or the mining industry.

Later the family reunions started and since then the Moroc community in the NL grew to some 400.000 people nowadays. That agreement is the basis why a visa is not required for me. In the meantime I have the slight impression that every person from every country gets the 90 days permit ... I was in Morocco now and things are different here ... I had decided to first cycle to Tetouan. I had found some hotels online overthere but would wildcamp or ask anyone for a place to sleep if I would not make it to there. It was for sure also my goal to start saving money here since I thought that would be relatively easy. Is this road also going to Tetouan ??? No, it is a taxi sign. Maybe. (I think ...). There was this beautiful mosque with it's blue and white colors. At certain distances there are boulevards were it is a pleasure to walk on. As long as you are out of the tourist season 😀. And the main road (at the far right) was perfect to cycle on. At this point I stopped at a bar that had a nice shadowed garden. I asked for a lemon lemonade and got a smoothie. After having repeated my wish for that lemonade the smoothie returned to the kitchen and the lemonade showed up.

However there was no menucard and I had to pay Mad 30 (Moroc dirhams) for it. That is about € 3,- which is a huge amount of money in this country for a lemonade. I decided to not start a discussion now in my first hour in this country. I payed and drank my lemonade in the garden.

There I found a menucard which offered the lemonade for Mad 14, so for € 1,40. So in the first contact here I was cheated already, by the very first Moroc people I met, and it would turn out not to be for the last time ... All along the Moroc Mediterranean coast there are tens of thousands of touristappartments. And that is all there is, except for some small towns. It is exactly the same situation as in Spain concerning tourism. Although there are few tourists making a living here in april large numbers of storches do. I think their presence is depending on whether there are chimneys available to build there houses on. This picture shows also exactly what another Moroc problem is : garbage. Garbage, garbage, garbage ... However some of the storches are stubborn (like myself) and use a tree (I don't but if I could 😜). Trick is to realise (in time !) that this white stuff at the cyclelane is storch shit. But an even better trick is to always watch the road itself. Not just for holes like these but also because this cyclelane was over it's full length of some 12 kms covered with small glass particles of bottles. Particles of some 5mm to 8mm, all of them, not any smaller, not any larger. How is that possible, were did they come from ???

Once I realised they were everywhere all over the place I could no longer enjoy the cycling. All my attention was taken by those particles. I managed to avoid most of them and did not have a puncture 👏. The landscape was beautiful. At both sides of the road. I made another stop to drink some really cold water. The young entrepeneur also sold boiled eggs and they were tasty. In the meantime it took a cat only 5 seconds to fall asleep under the OnTheRoad 4.0.

I was cycling on a 4-lane road and coming closer to Tetouan centre now (having 500.000 inhabitants). Along this road all the well-known huge shops are situated. So the traffic got more and more dense and besides that I had to climb slightly here. The situation(s) took all my attention and I forgot to take anymore pictures.

My hotel turned out to be high up the hill in the medina and I had to push heavily to get into that area. But the hotel did not exist, people I asked didn't know of it ... A man told me how to get further into the medina were there were other hotels available. I had prepared some other hotel waypoints in my gps in the price class I was willing to pay. But in the medina the gps turned out not to function. There it is just to small and with to much roofs to have that gps signal down here.

Then I was picked up by a young man that guided me through many very small "roads" and finally to a riad (hotel). It was full and we went to another one. There I had a nice but somewhat special room for "only" Mad 300 which is € 30. Rather expensive if you realise that a coffee costs about Mad 7 to Mad 10 or maybe Mad 12 and a tajin (Moroc stew) maybe Mad 30 to Mad 50.

At these pictures the streets are empty. That is because I took them early the next morning to have an impression about how (narrow) they actually are.

By the way, that young man was a fixer but (so) he doesn't tell you. At the hotel they explained me that he has a network of "friends" everywhere in the medina. They call his brother if a tourist shows up that might need some help. The fixer has not yet a telephone himself so his brother sends someone over to him to warn him.

He makes a living by helping tourists in any way he can and then asks money for his service(s). In this case he was payed by the hotel(s) and I found later that I had payed Mad 50 for that. The hotel pays that money to him after I had payed for my room.

When I later extended my stay for some days I got that Mad 50 as a discount from the hotel. Pretty honest I think ! However they have enough margin anyway since those Mad 300 is the same price as online at the booking sites. Moroc people don't start before 10am or even a bit later. But if they start it is full everywhere and always ... This is the situation in which I was pushing the OnTheRoad 4.0 to get to the hotel the day before.

Fact is that not anyone complained or touched my bicyle while pushing here. Despite me blocking those small roads for 50% at least, and sometimes even full. This is how my new Africa Topo gps map looks like. It has heightlines but is not routable. The more close the heightlines are to each other the steeper it is. And this is how my new Africa Open Street Map looks like. It has no height info but is routable so it can guide me actively. However the routing at osm's is not working very well to my experience.

I now have a gps problem here in Africa. These free African maps I found online don't have height information in their databases. Only the topo has heightlines but they are static (optical) only. That means that I can not on forehand judge the tracks I decide for concerning there heightprofiles. And that will For Sure bring me some nasty surprises in the near future 👎... I cycled about 51 kms today (the Africa part of the track) and they were quite easy to do. Only getting to the hotel in the medina was somewhat demanding because of the steep uphill into it. Picture Picture Picture Picture Picture

Now I was ready to start discovering Tetouan, my first Moroc town !


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