29th May 2015 – Tangier, not for the faint hearted, and this is Africa, not Europe

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I am writing this from the calm of an Atlantic coast based campsite, it’s low key, but after today is good, and only €6.

The day started well, and I caught the ferry from Tarifa to Tangier.

I had prepped for the non european border crossing as I had read it can be hassle, but it was OK. I also had some help from a local, which helped smooth things as I went through immigration, vehicle import, and customs. If you know what you’re doing I don’t think this is needed.

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The only question I got asked was what was I doing in Morocco (surfing) and did I have any pistols (no….).

My concern was the green card insurance, and I had read that you needed this just to get through import but it didn’t seem to be an issue.  I understand that if you lose your paperwork, or try to leave Morocco without the same vehicle, you pay 50% tax of original value.

I still needed to buy insurance though as this is Morocco, and I had researched that you can get this at the port, but the office was closed.

Enter Abdul and his boss Karim. They say they can help me get this arranged in Tangier itself and the office will not open for ages, it being a friday and coming up to Ramadan….

I was reluctant but saw no other choice. Perhaps a mistake.  I drive into town and it is very crazy. Abdul knows the game well though, and is always able to find somewhere to park.

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I speak to Karim and he advises me to get lots of money out as the bank will not be open for the next few days, I click on then and ask Karim how much for the insurance so I do not get out more than I need.

It all goes fine though, and things get arranged in a very corporate setting while we drink mint tea outside of the insurance building. I think perhaps things are OK and relax a bit.

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Abdul thinking I wonder how much I can get out of this one…..

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Karim is really on the ball, checks my paperwork, photocopies some other things for me, and tells me to stop for no one in Morocco unless official police, “this is Arica, not Europe, remember, remember”. He then runs off and picks me up a Moroccan Sim card and tells me he will point me in the direction of Rabat so I don’t get lost in Tangier.

They keep on telling me how helpful they have been and I agree with them, I am completely aware I will need to pay for their help, which is fine.

After some distance driving out of the centre of Tangier Karim jumped out and said he wanted nothing for helping me, but I must sort Abdul out.  As I go to give him 100 dh (€10) things started to change quickly, there was talk of 1500 dh (€150).

I realise how much these guys are trying it on when Abdul got angry, and threw the money I give him back at me, while Karim just smiled.

They keep telling me that what I offer will not get a taxi back into Tangier, which I knew was rubbish, so decide to drive him myself and set off down the road, with hindsight a good move as it meant I only had one local to deal with. They can be intimidating.

The price dropped down to 900, 800, 500 (which is still €50) and I consider paying but I start to get a bit stressed out with it all. In the end I offer him 300, but he was still not happy. I have to open his door and force him out pushing 200 dh into his hand at the same time, he asks me for 300 and I am just like no, get out, he swears and I drive off.

Definitely some lessons learnt, and an introduction into what Morocco can be like. With hindsight an insurance policy from the UK that covered Morocco would have avoided this, but this was not possible for me. Also perhaps agree a price for help upfront if possible?

On the flip side the drive to Rabat was easy, and I got some help in a local fast food mall setting my sim card up. I got talking to them and they were genuinely interested in what I was doing. They offer to meet up if I come back to Rabat and show me round. I just hope it doesn’t cost €150…..

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