Mending, sort of.
Week 7 - Sidi Akhfennir in Morocco to El Ouatia in Morocco
Monday morning after another lovely breakfast, courtesy of Lila, I tried to phone the hospital to see if we could resolve the medical certificate / police problem, but a combination of my bad French, their limited English and a bad phone line didnít get us very far. So we were left with no option but to travel the hour back to Tarfaya and go back to the hospital.
We checked with Lila and there was a bus to Tarfaya at 11.30 from outside the hotel. We went down to the cafť to wait for it. We neednít have worried, it appears the bus service runs more like a coach so it turned up at 11.30 and then hung around for about 30 mins for all the passengers to have a break. Lila spoke to the driver for us and arranged a drop off near to the hospital and a Moroccan fare rather than a tourist one (did I mention she was an angel!). The bus was something else, there were big cracks in the windscreen and the wing mirrors were held on with string! If we thought the road was a bit narrow at times on the bike it was nothing compared to passing lorries on the bus. Luckily the driver was obviously used to it and didnít feel the need to slow down at all.
We made it to Tarfaya in just over an hour and we hobbled to the hospital. The doctors were great and phoned the police station to make sure the paperwork we got was what they needed. After putting one of every stamp they had in the hospital on the new medical certificates we were sorted. We wandered in town to find the bank and found an interesting sea front with what appeared to be a fort in the sea.
Unfortunately we had less success with the banks. There were two in town and both the cash machines were broken so we just bought some water and couple of bananas trying to conserve our cash and walked back to wait for the return bus. The driver had said something about 4, but it could have been 4 oíclock or in 4 hours so we werenít entirely sure what time the bus would be back. Whilst we were waiting lots of people stopped to ask if we were ok. It turned out everyone knew about our accident and our fame was spreading. After waiting for an hour and 45 mins there was still no sign of the bus. A taxi pulled up and said he was going through Sidi Akhfennir so we squeezed in with the 4 people already in there. This turned out to be the most terrifying taxi ride yet as it was a 120kph hurtle through the dessert in the dark, at some points racing about a foot from the bumper of another taxi. When we made it to Sidi Akhfennir in one piece Ant and I vowed not to travel that road again, 4 times was enough any more would really be pushing our luck!
We stopped at the police station to hand in our new medical certificates and they asked us to come back in the morning for more paperwork. The Mom and Dad support wagon had arrived whilst weíd been away and we hobbled round to the van for a very welcome cuppa. We had met Boujmaa in town earlier, he is a park ranger for the national park just south of Sidi Akhfennir. He offered to come to the police station to translate for us and invited us all round to his house for dinner after. We agreed to meet him tomorrow and went back to our hotel where Lila came through again with grilled fish and Lamb chops for all four of us. Mom and Dad retired to the van and we fell into bed.
Boujmaa met us the following morning and we went back to the police station. We were there 10 mins when the chief bought us a typed accident report and said we were all finished! That was it, no charges for recovering the bike or storage, no charges for the ambulance or any of the medical treatment we had received. We were stunned, but didnít hang around for them to change their minds. Ant retrieved the bike and pushed it round to where the van was parked. In the daylight we could see how badly it was damaged.
Every town and village in Morocco has 3 or 4 mechanics workshops except for the town we decided to crash in, so there was no chance we could get it fixed in Sidi Akhfennir. A call to our friends on the internet earlier had determined that getting new parts posted to Morocco from the UK or anywhere in Europe was going to be hideously expensive, so we decided if we could get back to the campsite at El Ouatia Ant could at least do a tour of the workshops there and see if he could get any parts. After lunch at Boujmaaís he arranged for the fish man to take the bike to El Ouatia in the back of his pick-up truck, we paid our hotel bill, said many thank yous to Lila, threw our gear in the back of the van and were on our way.
We got back to the campsite in El Ouatia and Ant and I hired one of the bungalows to stay in so we didnít have to crawl in and out of the tent in our damaged state. We only had to share it with one family of cockroaches and they mostly kept to the bathroom! We unloaded the bike from the fish wagon and went to bed thankful we had managed to get out of Sidi Akhfennir.
The next few days were spent between eating painkillers, resting on the sofa in our bungalow and working on the bike. Once Ant had stripped it down the damage was; very bent handle bars, 2 very bent pannier racks, a dented front wheel, a bent rear sub frame, 2 snapped shock absorbers and a completely shredded top box.
Mulloud the campsite manager had every mechanic in town out to look at the bike and Ant managed to get the handlebars straightened, the worst of the dents out of the front wheel, the pannier racks semi straightened, a few bits of welding here and there and some replacement shock absorbers that would fit. They were off a much smaller bike though so I would have to travel in the van with our gear for the time being.
While fixing the bike Ant met Ron and Linda who were in this Morris Minor with a very groovy roof tent. They were on their way to a Morris Minor rally in South Africa. If you want to follow their exploits their website is here www.rondouglas.co.uk.
Everyone we spoke to in El Ouatia said we would need to go to Tiznit for better parts. After some internet research we found there was a BMW dealer in Casablanca, but after exchanging emails they would need to order replacement parts from BMW in Germany and they were closed until the 8th Jan for Christmas. So we finished the week with a sort of mended bike and slowly recovering sore bits, considering what to do next.
Week 8 - El Ouatia in Morocco to Tiznit in Morocco
On Monday Ant tried the bike out and concluded it rode well enough to get somewhere else. After much discussion we decided to go to Tan-Tan on Tuesday and see if there are any better shock absorbers to be had there.
Tuesday morning we emerged from the bungalow to find Mom and Dad had been robbed in the night. Unfortunately it was a circumstances thing. Mom and Dad were getting ready for bed before locking up for the night and someone opened the van door and pinched Momís handbag. Dad found it a few minutes later left by the front of the van. Just £160 in cash taken so could have been worse. More trips to another Moroccan police station meant we didnít get to Tan-Tan.
Understandably Mom and Dad didnít want to stay in El Ouatia any more so Wednesday we packed up and headed off for Tiznit.
I figured Iíd use the time in the back of the van to catch up on the blog and read, but it was so bouncy I ended up lying down with my eyes closed trying not to throw up. Ant had a very bouncy ride too with the not entirely up for the job shock absorbers so we were both very grateful to reach camping international at Tiznit.
Thursday Ant scoured every bike shop, car shop, bicycle shop and mechanic in Tiznit. No shocks, everyone said go to Agadir. Worried in case everyone in Agadir says go to Casablanca and weíll be back in Spain before we find any shocks!
I stayed with the Mom and Dad support van and Ant went off to Agadir on his own. He phoned later to say he had only been run off the road twice and heíd found a man with shocks, but couldnít get them till tomorrow. He found a cheap hotel for the night, this gave me the opportunity to go into town and do a bit of Christmas present shopping. Only had newspaper and plastic bags, but even so I did a reasonable job of wrapping. I also made a few decorations for the van. Unfortunately making them out of newspaper resulted in one of the Christmas trees having Michael Gorbachovís head on it, but they make the van more festive.
Saturday was Christmas eve, Ant returned from Agadir with new shocks and the bike was handling much better what a relief.
There was an advert in the campsite for the Hotel Mauritania who were doing a Christmas eve dinner so we went to see if they had any tables left. Our luck was in and we had a really nice dinner, loads of courses and the main being a really nice roast Lamb. All the other revellers were French people from the campsite and one had bought his accordion so we had music and dancing into the night.
It had turned really foggy whilst we were eating so it was a strange and quiet walk back to the campsite. Sort of a white Christmas, but not exactly like snow.
Christmas morning and Santa had managed to deliver our presents to the right place even though we were in Morocco!
Ant bought me a lovely silver necklace, we all had lots of sweets chocolate and fruit and Dad had 2 new plastic buckets. Who says you donít get exciting presents when youíre a grown up! Mom and I had bought a piece of turkey for dinner which I roasted in the oven in the van. It took ages to cook, but came out really nice with roast potatoes and home made stuffing. Yummy!
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