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  #1  
Old 21 Mar 2011
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Morocco. Language + other Q

Thinking of riding to Morocco in a few weeks. I don't speak French or Arabic. Apart from Merci and Sortie. My English is mediocre. Will I survive? The only thing I really need is to get tickets and get through customs. Then order food and drink and get a bed for the night. Is English and pointing going to be enough?
No real plans when I get there. Just ride until I need to sleep and get a place for the night, and ride until I'm hungry and get something to eat. For about 2 weeks (~16 apr - 28 apr).

Ferry.
Does it work to arrive in Algeciras and get a ticket for the next ferry or is it better to book in advance? And can you, (is it better / cheaper), to get a open return ticket? Or do you just buy a ticket on the Moroccan side on the way home?
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Old 21 Mar 2011
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Maybe add "Bonjour" (hello) to your linguistic skills and that'll probably do. I spent 30 yrs "voyaging" in France and Morocco with not much more so you can get by. You'll find that everybody you need to talk to will speak English - carpet salesmen, "fixers" at the border, drug dealers etc. Most other people will put the effort in to understand you if you're spending money .

TBH it is a bit easier if you can speak the language and I've put a lot of effort in to learning French to the point where I'm semi-fluent but on my last trip to France a few weeks ago it was hardly needed. Probably half the people I spoke to replied in English as soon as they heard my accent. Morocco isn't quite as bad as that but a surprising number of people do speak some so you'll be able to sort out the essentials without much trouble.

I've also tried to learn some Arabic, and there's a lot of self learning stuff out there but if you've only got a few weeks before you go I wouldn't think you'd make enough progress for it to be worth while. I survived for years just knowing the Arabic for Coca-Cola .
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Old 21 Mar 2011
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Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Maybe add "Bonjour" (hello) to your linguistic skills and that'll probably do. I spent 30 yrs "voyaging" in France and Morocco with not much more so you can get by. You'll find that everybody you need to talk to will speak English - carpet salesmen, "fixers" at the border, drug dealers etc. Most other people will put the effort in to understand you if you're spending money .

TBH it is a bit easier if you can speak the language and I've put a lot of effort in to learning French to the point where I'm semi-fluent but on my last trip to France a few weeks ago it was hardly needed. Probably half the people I spoke to replied in English as soon as they heard my accent. Morocco isn't quite as bad as that but a surprising number of people do speak some so you'll be able to sort out the essentials without much trouble.

I've also tried to learn some Arabic, and there's a lot of self learning stuff out there but if you've only got a few weeks before you go I wouldn't think you'd make enough progress for it to be worth while. I survived for years just knowing the Arabic for Coca-Cola .

'Ace' reply !
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Old 21 Mar 2011
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Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Maybe add "Bonjour" (hello) to your linguistic skills and that'll probably do. I spent 30 yrs "voyaging" in France and Morocco with not much more so you can get by. You'll find that everybody you need to talk to will speak English - carpet salesmen, "fixers" at the border, drug dealers etc. Most other people will put the effort in to understand you if you're spending money .

TBH it is a bit easier if you can speak the language and I've put a lot of effort in to learning French to the point where I'm semi-fluent but on my last trip to France a few weeks ago it was hardly needed. Probably half the people I spoke to replied in English as soon as they heard my accent. Morocco isn't quite as bad as that but a surprising number of people do speak some so you'll be able to sort out the essentials without much trouble.

I've also tried to learn some Arabic, and there's a lot of self learning stuff out there but if you've only got a few weeks before you go I wouldn't think you'd make enough progress for it to be worth while. I survived for years just knowing the Arabic for Coca-Cola .
Thank you. Maybe I should try to learn a few words in French or Arabic before I go. (Numbers and some phrases). Intended to try to learn Russian as my fourth language (English is my third). I'm afraid my brain will start to mix everything together if I add French and Arabic to the mix .
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Old 21 Mar 2011
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Thank you. Maybe I should try to learn a few words in French or Arabic before I go. (Numbers and some phrases). Intended to try to learn Russian as my fourth language (English is my third). I'm afraid my brain will start to mix everything together if I add French and Arabic to the mix .

Hi Quiet, If English is your third language you must be pretty good with numbers one and two as I read your original post as coming from someone with it as their original (and possibly only) language. I don't think you'll have much problem with surviving in Morocco without any French or Arabic. You'll be able to get the things you need for everyday use - fuel, food etc with a combination of pointing and writing (numbers - for stuff like prices), it's just that it becomes a bit wearying not being able to hold a conversation with anyone for a week or two - in the end you're even happy to talk to the touts.

Regarding the ferries, others may give you better advice but I've always just turned up at the ports and bought a ticket.There's plenty of ticket offices in the port at Algeciras.
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Old 21 Mar 2011
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Hi Quiet,
Regarding language, the more you travel through countries with less common languages (Farsi, Vietnamese, and Turkish being my most difficult to get to grips with!) the more you'll find that it's possible to be fluent without speaking a word provided you take the time to establish some kind of connection with who you're "talking" to. Smiles and pointing go a huge way (except, it seems, with Chilean or Argentine cops when you've parked your truck by a fire hydrant!) In Morocco generally people are happy to make an effort to understand you and a combination of English, French, and a greeting and or thanks in Arabic will go a long way. Mixing them all up in one sentence doesn't matter. It's only the occasional key word that will be understood anyway!
Last November I drove straight into the port at Algeciras, ignoring the touts. Parked in the carpark opposite the line of ticket offices. Went in and bought a ticket, which seems to automatically be open jaw return (but just check, don't take my word for it!) and was on the next ferry out 20 minutes later. (Almost missed it because my friends got lost in the port - my fault, drove off too fast and lost them!)
I went via Ceuta, but the new Tangier port with it's insurance offices etc might be a better option (and avoids the scrum at Fnideq border if you're trying to come home in the morning)
Incidentally, I do feel sorry for all the agencies, whose business has been taken by the few who have an office in the port, but then again, having seen the scams some of them have tried in the past, stuff 'em. Take the easy option!
Travel safe, take a leap of faith and enjoy the challenge,
Simon
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Old 22 Mar 2011
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+1 for what mossproof has written. The prices go up and down like a yo-yo, so I always check first on www aferry.to to see what the journey price is being quoted, then go to the terminal. And the terminal is always cheapest. Don't buy from one of the ticket places before the port as you may not be sold a ticket for the next ferry company that's leaving and end up having to wait.

Complete and print out your temporary import forms before leaving home.

Tanger Med is the easiest port and passport control is done on the ferry so once on board look for a queue and join it.
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 22 Mar 2011 at 13:15.
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Old 23 Mar 2011
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Hi

I'm into the third week of my first visit to Morocco.

Having been born in the UK my English is only passable, my French not so good

In touristy places we've been approached by people out of the blue asking if they can help, in English 1st, and having been particularly helpful want nothing in return Along the Med coast many speak Spanish.

In less touristy places fewer speak English at all, some officials will say they speak French but then quite clearly do not, which is not helpful!!!


I also have a Pocketcomms which I think is really, really good. A pencil and paper is a good alternative, but the detail to assist understanding in this little fold out multitool () is way beyond my drawing skill, can be used both ways, and is really compact. Although despite how good I think it is, I've never needed to use it yet!
  • ISBN-10: 0955533503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955533501
Amazon.com: PocketComms: Universal Language System (9780955533501): James Fergus Wyatt: Books Normally about £6-7, not as in the Amazon link

In the Tangier Med Gare Maritime there is a cafe, TV, currency offices, ATM which will take Euro notes and give you Dh as well as card transactions, and all the ferry agencies, who put the time of the next sailing in their window so you can pick which one suits. The carpark is guarded all the time, and many sleep over, as we did waiting for daylight and the Assurance office (in the customs area, not inside the Gare) to open.

Happy travels


Last edited by grizzly7; 30 Mar 2011 at 12:47. Reason: £ added
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