6 min read
I am writing this from a less known guest house on the outskirts of Casablanca, Morocco. When we first saw La Petite Ferme on booking.com, it was not my first choice to be honest, but Thomas loved it instantly. And I am glad we went with it even though it did not look like the shiny and more modern hotels in the heart of Casablanca. The guest house is owned by a lovely lady and her husband who also live on the property with their two children whom I have never seen, only heard crying from a distance. The food and service is so perfect that the only thing that would make the place better is if Beyoncé was singing live every evening. The whole house is on ground floor with electricity outlets at the parking, so perfect for us to charge the Zero. It has been a busy couple of days to say the least, so much to do, so much to take in. This is also my first experience as a travel writer so I am trying to find a balance between fully immersing myself in every moment, and paying attention to details to add into articles to create a clear picture for you. I do my best and hopefully it is descriptive enough.
The ferry ride from Tarifa into Tangier was quite smooth and took just under one hour. The most comfortable I had been since leaving Berlin really, as Jolene is quite packed. The ferry seats were so comfortable, and spaced well enough from each other that we were not breathing each other’s air like on flights. There was no assignment of seats, no first class or economy, and not that many passengers on board, so we could sit anywhere. They even had a duty free shop which I did not expect. The only noteworthy thing was when I was getting my passport stamped.
“Are you traveling alone?” the officer asked me in a thick French accent.
“No”, I said.
“With your father or brother?” he asked, now looking up from my passport.
I paused. I was prepared for this situation. But it was still interesting that this question was being asked, that these were the options being presented to me.
“With my fiancé,” I replied.
He now smiled (in approval I assume) and went back to work on my passport. I recounted the story to Thomas later on, who told me that nothing of the like had happened to him. No questions about who he was traveling with, just a quick stamping of his passport.
Front row view into our future
When we got off the ferry, there was a long queue of vehicles. I am not too sure what their selection process for scanning was as not every vehicle was scanned, but we were among the lucky few that were selected. The customs officers directing us to the scanner never once saying a word to us, just gesturing with their hands for us to move forward or stay put, and shaking their heads with displeasure when we did not read their minds about the next step to take. After the scanning, we joined another queue of cars for manual searching of the car and checking of documents. From three cars behind, I could see a car that had been stopped by one of the officers. The driver stepped out of the car and was explaining something to him. The officer must have not been satisfied with this explanation because he pointed to the back of the car, seemingly asking him to open up and take everything out. I really hoped this did not happen to us because we had so much stuff in the back and I was not particularly interested in offloading and then loading everything – which could easily take an hour. Now there were two sniffer dogs being kept at bay by two other officers, but barely. I could see them just revving to go. And when they were let go loosely, they seemed to be pulling the officers along instead of the other way around. They were hungry for God knows what. They went to work, sniffing away at all the things on the ground now from the car. A few seconds of sniffing and one of the dogs started barking loudly. Something else I had observed is that if there seemed to be a problem, other officers appeared out of nowhere and flocked the person in question as if to support the one officer that was doing the questioning. This happened immediately that dog started to bark, all of them in their matching grey uniforms and RayBan sunglasses. It honestly looked like a scene out of a 90s cop movie. I again made a wish that nothing of this sort happened to us. I am not too sure what happened there because by then we were up next.
Our turn for some drama
Passports, vehicle documents, and ferry tickets were exchanged. Some French between Thomas and the officer, typing away on the computer, some printing, and a tiny slip of paper handed to Thomas. We drove forward for the search. More French as the next officer looked at the slip of paper that Thomas was handed. He took a look at the back, pointed and asked Thomas something. More French. Then Thomas asked me to get off as he started to unfasten his seat belt and the two officers with the dogs walked towards us. I cannot say I did not expect this even though I had wished otherwise. We opened the back and started to take out everything. We were now surrounded by three of the officers, not counting the two with the dogs. They all smelled good by the way, it felt to me like the set of a men’s perfume commercial. Off the dogs went sniffing after everything was out and on the ground. No crazy barking, we seemed to have passed the test. Now everyone seemed friendlier. One of the officers passed by and teased us about the size of the watermelon we had with us, saying that there were much bigger watermelons in Morocco than those ones in Spain. We all laughed. The first officer then came back and handed us all our documents, emphasizing that the slip of paper was in there as well – that we were not to lose it. We said thank you, got back into the car and drove out of the port. We stopped a bit outside before joining the moving traffic to get our bearings and double check that we had everything. We did, except for one thing, the slip of paper that we were instructed not to lose.
Officially, this slip of paper is called Admission Temporaire (let’s call it AT), and it is basically a Moroccan visa for the car. We had to go back in and explain that we had lost it. I thought it would be a simple apology and printing a fresh, but it was not. The first officer who had searched us wanted to verify that we had indeed lost the AT by combing through the car. And remember what I mentioned about being swamped by officers when there seemed to be a problem? We slowly built up to five, each wanting to do their own search to ensure that the AT was indeed lost. Eventually we had to declare that the AT was lost at the police headquarter at the port before getting a new one. This whole process from the time we got off the ferry took a total of five hours. We do not recommend losing the AT, 1/10 star rating. But finally we were allowed into Morocco, the AT in hand, and the promise of the world’s largest watermelons.