Granada to Tarifa to Chefchaouen (240 miles approx)

Granada to Tarifa to Chefchaouen

Day 6

This day  proved eventful!

Bikers awaiting ferry to TangiersWe arose  early  as we needed to catch a lunch-time ferry from Tarifa, a distance of 173 miles. Alas, we were a little late departing which meant  a hair-raising ride at speed, in gale force winds, along the Mediterranean motorway.

Falling Foul of the Spanish Traffic Police

Careering past legendary towns such as M├ílaga, Torremolinos. Marbella, Algeciras and Gibraltar, we crested a hill leading down into the port of Tarifa. The winds gusted and the bikes slowed. Eventually, we found ourselves in a  line of traffic. The Chief Biker’s enthusiasm to overtake a caravan got the better of him. Impatiently, he revved the engine, pulled out and blasted past the offending vehicle.  He manoeuvered the bike back into the correct lane, where the centre line became a double white line.  Within seconds, he was to discover the  Spanish Traffic Police  lurking at the bottom of the hill.  A beckoning hand appeared as if from nowhere and he was directed into the central reservation area.  The Police handed the Chief Biker a ticket and ordered him to pay a fine of 60 euros.   I was not amused!

We continued down to the Port,  only to discover that we had missed the ferry.  Many of the other bikers were clearly chafed by the delay. However, as another member of the group had not arrived,  we could not have boarded anyway. We spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and dangling our feet in the cool waters of the strait. The missing biker, who was an older guy and who had some health problems, eventually appeared.  He had been a former Sergeant in the army  and he was a very experienced  motorcycle rider.  He had not been happy to ride at the speed of the rest of the group, especially with strong winds buffeting his bike.

We caught the next ferry at tea-time.

Ferryfrom Tarifa to Tangier

Tangier to Tarifa

Ferry Across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers

The ferry was clean and modern and we enjoyed a 35 minute crossing, gliding over the calm waters of the Strait of Gibraltar. Once on board, we were instructed to complete a visa form before arriving at the Port of Tangiers. Arrival and disembarkation in Tangiers was to be an education. We had not been given any instructions on how to negotiate exit from the Port and how to avoid all the bodies wanting us to purchase our way out.  People swarmed all around us, pushing and shoving and disorder reigned supreme.  Payment of a small fee  ensured speedy assistance in exiting the terminal.   We were  later told that this had been unnecessary. Ah well! Welcome to Africa!

Enter Abdelaziz Benami, BENAMI TOURS

“Hello, I am to be your back-up in Morocco.  Just call me Aziz.”

This amiable young man had turned up with a Landrover-pickup truck, rather battered and old.  Quite how we could load any broken-down bikes onto it was a bit of a mystery.  We would find an answer some days ahead. 

Ahead of us lay a journey of 173 miles and it was getting late.   Aziz breezily announced that some of the roads were rough and he indicated for another lady and me to climb into the landrover.   Our husbands could then better concentrate on their riding while they negotiated broken tarmac and numerous potholes.

I  wondered when we would arrive in Chefchaouen.  Aziz drove the landrover for mile after weary mile.     Darkness fell and time marched on.  Our stomachs began to growl in anticipation of dinner, which had been arranged at our lodgings for the night.  This was to be at a riad, a traditional Moroccan hotel,  located somewhere in Chefchaouen.

Arrival in Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is situated in the northwest of Morocco, in the Rif Mountains.  First impressions were of a bustling African town, with narrow streets and people wandering everywhere.  We found a car-park, it’s surface covered in potholes.  Our leader consulted his map and as the group headed off to find parking nearer to our hotel, the bike caught in a pothole and began slowly to list to the lefthand side.  The Chief Biker had no option but to drop the bike.  A group of Moroccan men surrounded us and heaved the bike upright.  They were grinning amiably and they seemed pleased that they had been able to help us.  The Chief Biker thanked them in careful French,  which pleased them even more. 

Midnight Dining

Slowly, he eased the bike forward only for us to discover the elderly soldier/biker alongside us.  The rest of our group were nowhere in sight, and the three of us had no idea where the hotel was situated.  One of the Moroccans waved us in a certain direction, so off we set.  With a sigh of relief, we found our group and took our place on the car-park,  home to the bikes for the night. Most of the bikers were dismayed that we had a ten-minute walk to the riad.  They were worried about the safety of their precious machines overnight.  A couple of Moroccan men approached us.  They told us that for a small payment, they would keep watch over the machines until we returned in the morning.  The bikers took a deep breath and paid up!   There was no option to do otherwise.

Thirteen travel-weary bikers trudged through the narrow winding streets of the town, lugging their panniers with them.  They  were prevented from seeing this typical Moroccan town in all it’s splendour, due to the darkness and lateness of the hour.  We arrived at the riad about 11 30pm.  It was a beautiful place, with comfortable beds and brightly coloured Moroccan tapestries.  Our spirits were lifted somewhat after an enjoyable meal, even though the hour was so advanced.

The Chief Biker and I retired to our room, where we fell into a deep sleep.

Tomorrow would be another day. and hopefully, less exhausting.

Naomi Flashman

 

 

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