Morocco: Did we get stuck in the sand?

Alone on the road … deciding each day what we want to do, what to cook and where to watch the evening sky. That is what we love to do and that is how we ended up in Morocco.

No exact route planned in advance…only Elmer’s ten-year-old Morocco memories guiding us.

No ferry booked beforehand … we simply arrived at the docks and payed for the same day crossing.

Oh a little advice upon entry: don’t tell them it’s your first time in Morocco, when it’s not , no matter how long ago it was. They will figure it out that you have been there before – whoops 🙂 ! But as soon as that was corrected we were free to go.

Culture shock and grilled fish

Our first stop is a quiet lagoon near Moulay Bousselham. Here we meet up with our friends Martin & Els for a magical new year’s evening.

While the men are keeping themselves busy with finding firewood and getting it back to the trucks, Els and I walk to the local souk to buy fresh fish, veggies and bread.

Although nervous to walk to the Souk without the men,  I’m  glad that Els pulls me along. I did not expect that Morocco would be such a culture shock for me and that I would feel so out of place. In Europe or in North America I blend in, but here in Morocco, being fair skinned, (semi)blond and female, I stick out like a sore thumb. It’s just impossible to not notice me. But Els, being a very confident Dutch women and already in Morocco for 4 weeks, shows me how to navigate the streets and the masses in the souk effortlessly and with grace. “If she can do that, I can do it too” I tell myself.

We return to truck with a delicious bounty: 2 fresh Dorado and 3 other unidentified large fish that simply looked to good to leave behind. Grilled fish, self made fries and salad as New Years Eve dinner… we literally lick our fingers, that’s how tasty it is.

It takes the men two days to overcome their new year’s hangover. And while Martin and Els are heading home, our adventure is just starting.

“Stealth camping” in Casablanca

But we’re not traveling alone, yet. First Elmer’s brother joins us for a few days. He’s staying at a hotel in Casablanca for the first nights – which means we’re “stealth camping” 😀 on the hotel’s parking lot.

Although Casablanca has lost its old glory, you can still find the best (and the cheapest) Tajine’s here, right on the side of the streets.

Stop!!! Something is burning!

After visiting Marrakech and saying our goodbyes to Elmer’s brother, we’re heading to the High Atlas mountains. At the highest point of the pass, our alternator belt starts to make a really high pitch noise, followed by a burning rubber smell. Damn! We stop immediately but can’t detect any fire. We slowly back up the truck to some leveled ground aside the road.

We tilt the driver’s cab and see the trouble maker. The alternator belt is completed warped and need to be replaced (again). After replacing it after our alternator troubles on our way to Poland, we noticed it squeaking from time to time and planned to tighten it … at some some point. Well we were too late! Luckily we are prepared and have a reserve belt with us. Under the watchful eyes of a stray dog and with my excellent assistance ;-), Elmer fixes it within the hour. High five! This is part of the adventure and it honestly feels good that we are able to resolve the issue ourselves.

Rolling for 24 Kilometers

Morocco becomes more quite on the south side of the Atlas, bigger stretches of… nothing, but very beautiful nonetheless.

On one of the hills we test how far our expedition truck can roll in neutral ….  Far, it turns out!!!  Sometimes we think that we are not making the top of the next hill. And each time we are amazed when we do. And while it started as something fun to test out, it turns into an incredible 24 kilometers peaceful drive.

Sand, sand, and more sand

Near Erg Chegaga, there are no paved roads anymore and the sandy tracks regularly disappear in thin air. It is simply you, your expedition truck and a lot of sand. And when you stumble upon another expedition truck, appearing from out of nowhere, you just have to move closer… This is how we meet Max & Lena.

We are both traveling alone and decide to team up so we can tackle the Sahara dunes together. All excited we cross the first one. Our hopes and expectations are high. But then our Steyr 12M18 expedition truck (which was not yet tuned then) already starts to dig in. We look bewildered at each other. This can’t be happening, right?!

We turn on all the differential locks , but it barely makes any difference. Sh**! We lower the pressure of the tires from approx. 3.5 bar to 1,2 bar (luckily the truck has tubeless tires). If this doesn’t do the trick, we need to start shoveling.

Eureka! The truck roles forward as if it is driving on asphalt. What an awesome truck and adventure this is!

But this is not yet the end of our adventure. More coming soon!

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2 thoughts on “Morocco: Did we get stuck in the sand?
  1. I remember your first post of going to Morrocco and have been waiting for the full story,wow !
    What an adventure guys !
    And meeting fellow adventurers along the way-
    Stay safe you two and keep the inspirational updates coming.
    Mick and Evey,
    Auchtertyre ✌️❤️

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