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Monday, 4 June 2012

UK and Morocco, Part 2

22/5/2012 – 29/5/2012.
We arrived in the UK to ideal weather and the maximums remained in the mid to high 20s for the week. Unfortunately, we had brought non-summer clothes with us. But, it did not really matter.
The week was spent with friends, enjoying their company, eating and drinking (Ray) too much. Ray says he has put on more than a few Kgs in the week.
Elena & Dan’s wedding was great; a really enjoyable day/evening. The reception was at the Reform club (where Elena is a member). We all took the Underground from the registry office to the reception and the look on the commuters’ faces when the whole bridal party and all the guests hopped on board, was a sight to behold! It was very strange dancing the night away with portraits of former  prime ministers, lords ,gentry etc keeping an eye on us!
The next day was spent celebrating Steve, father of the bride and Avril’s 60ths with an English BBQ – the weather was superb and Ray did all the cooking as he said that he did not trust the Poms to do a BBQ! Thanks to the bride and groom for hosting the event in their back garden! As if this was not enough celebrating, we had a birthday lunch on the Monday with all the trimmings – champagne, chocolate birthday cake ( we could not fit all the candles on the cake!), presents etc.
After 9 months on the wrong side of the road, the driving was successfully negotiated with only 1 incident of “being on the wrong side of the road”.
Morocco, Part 2
Day 9 – 29/5/12
After an indecent start to the day, 03:30, to get the easyjet  flight, we returned to Morocco to recommence our trip. The break in the IK was fantastic and we did manage to survive in the “rat race” and rather enjoyed it.
Collecting our vehicle from customs was easy and we were soon on our way. We had noticed a bit of a squeak coming from the rear of the vehicle so on the way back from the airport we stopped at Toyota and had it looked at. As suspected, we needed a new set of brakes. They do not seem to last that long.
We then went to the souk to do some food shopping. A lot of the stores were closed, seemed that there was a bit of a boycott underway due to high costs/taxes (know the feeling?). Still we managed to get all our fruit & veg. The range of produce was great. The pricing was very interesting. All the different vegetables; carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, egg plants etc etc are weighed together. There is no difference in pricing between the different vegetables. The biggest surprise was the price. When we had completed our shopping and had a large quantity of fresh produce, we asked the price. A kind gentleman also shopping at the same stall translated; 17 Dirum. We queried the amount, thinking this was wrong. They thought we were saying it was too much. Did we mention the exchange rate; 10 Dirum ~ $ 1. The whole lot cost $ 1.70. We thought we had mis heard and it should have been at least 70 Dirum.
We camped at the excellent Paradise Nomad about 15 km from Agadir, in the hills. The  hills remind us a bit of Greece and the mid east, quite large, some reasonable tree cover but very little grass. So the appearance is of a grey/brown backdrop and green blobs coming out of it.
As soon as the sun went down we can felt the cold and the night was a bit chilly.
N 300 25’ 28 509’’ W 0090 27’ 961’’
Day 10 – 30/5/12
After the very early start the previous night, we had a bit of a sleep in. The hills were covered in mist and it took until early afternoon for it to burn off and for the sun to make an appearance. Ray took the vehicle back to Toyota to get a routine service. Avril remained at the camp and did some washing etc.

Day 11 – 31/5/12
A brilliant days drive. A had a lazy start to the day and then drove into Agadir to do some more food shopping and chores. We then drove to Marrakech via the mountains route. The road is tar all the way. The mountain sections are single lane and a bit rough where the water can erode the surface.
We were fortunate with the weather. It was cloudy/closed in in the morning, but cleared to a wonderful clear blue sky as we approached the mountains. It made for ideal viewing conditions.
The drive is absolutely spectacular. Dramatic mountain faces and picturesque valleys with lots of green/agriculture and villages. The route must be well known in the biker community as we were passed by a number of (large!) foreign motor bikes. For the cyclists, this would be a great place to practice the massive up hill climbs. The high Atlas mountains are as great as everyone says.
We are camped at the superb Ourika Camp just outside Marrakech. We think this is probably the best camp we have stayed at so far in our trip. So good, we may stay an another day.
Ray driving; 335 km; 7 hrs; N 310 31’ 36.7’’ W 0070 57’ 32.9’’
Day 12 – 1/6/12
As predicted, we stayed an extra day. Ray took the opportunity to visit MRK (formerly Outback) a specialist 4x4 garage run by Stephan. They made a new locking arrangement for the under tray draw. The draw broke its 4th and 5th catches/locks and we did not have any more spares. Clearly the original locks were not suited to the task. MRK also removed one of the broken Opposite Lock suspension air bags. It was so distorted that it was impacting other parts. Amazingly the Old Man Emu shock absorber beside it, whilst dinted and bruised, was still and OK and in good working order. Money well spent there. The MRK folks had to modify a bump block and weld it to the chassis.  Ray thought he had kept the original bump blocks, but they seem to have been “lost or stolen or strayed. Rays bump blocks seem to have been mislayed!”
Avril spent the day reading by the pool (the adaptors for the computer being in the car).
Day 13 – 2/6/12
Not enough superlatives. Ray went back to MUK to get a couple of new rear tyres. Unfortunately the logistics let MUK down and the tyres were not delivered. Still they serviced a compressor and also replaced the bolts holding the tray to the chassis. The original bolts were ~ 75% of their original diameter and the nuts were loose. So, it was time well spent.
Avril managed to get some emailing done.
We then drove from Marrakech to Ouarzazate. The drive was absolutely stunning, probably one of the best mountain drives we have ever done. There are not enough superlatives to describe the trip – you will have to come and see.
We camped in the Ouarzazate municipal camping ground. Whilst it is not fantastic, it is not as bad as some blogs describe.
Avril driving; ~ 250 km; 4 hrs; N 300 55’ 23.1’’ W 0060 55’13.1’’

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