Bandit country

Day three started early after a good night sleep. After breakfast we set off with the contraband team to visit the surrounding villages and the Algerian border to have a better understanding of the contraband in the region.
Although you hear about it all the time it is hard to imagine until you actually see it. Oujda is already full off Algerian products form biscuits and cooking ustensils to washing powder and of course non duty paid cigarettes at half price. Once you’re actually near the border it gets worse. Every 100 metres or so fuel cans are placed on the side of the road and cigarette stalls are visible full of non-Moroccan products. The tour took us through smugglers’ back roads and “pistes” and to places where the border is just a stone throw away. 

After a two-hour drive we arrived to Saidia at the beach where there is but a small border post to signal the delimitation of the two countries. The town is a resort with a beautiful and calm beach so we took the time to stop for a coffee. 

Once back in Oujda we headed for lunch and then we were off towards Ifrane. We only stopped once for fuel on the motorway before taking the small roads to the mountains. Stopping anywhere with a motorbike is great fun. People immediately approach you and start to chat about your bike, your destination and yourself. The guys at the station genuinely decided to wash our helmets and clean the bikes while we were having our coffee. All they wanted in return is to sit on the motorcycles for a picture and they just looked like happy kids on Christmas day when we agreed.

Once in the mountains the ride was more fun. Twisting roads and beautiful view. The sun was setting quickly and we arrived to Ifrane just before sunset to be received by a welcoming committee offering fresh milk and dates and all kinds of pastries. 
We had unpacked and had a shower before meeting with the others for dinner which was in the hotel Michlifen. The place looks as if it was transposed from Austria or Switzerland directly to Morocco. Even the inside reminds you of a ski hotel or a huge chalet. Obviously built for the more wealthy who want to experience skiing or just spend a couple of days in the mountains. 
As usual we finished dinner around midnight and sat by the fireplace for a couple of drinks before returning to our company vacation centre for a good night sleep. 

This entry was posted in Morocco. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *