Guest Post

Sunday, 5 November 2017

No More Mistakes with road trips along the Moroccan Highways

This definitely was one of the most risky things that I and my friend (two girls) could ever do in Morocco. We had previously booked online a car with EconominyBookings.com and paid a deposit of € 56.38. The rest of € 107.38 was to be paid locally to the car rental company upon arrival to the airport of Fez. Everything seemed to be done perfectly but what happened to us upon arrival was particularly curious. There was no office of Economy Bookings at the airport and while wondering how to handle this situation a man came right there to meet us asking if we had rented a vehicle with Economy Bookings. We walked together with him across the large parking lot in front of the airport and reached another one just ahead where our alleged car was parked. We settled in the car in order to finish the rental procedures. The vehicle was bigger than the one we have rented. Here came the fun!!! He asked us € 900.00 as a deposit, by cash or by credit card transaction. While booking online I had have given them my debit card details which were written on the papers he had but it was not enough. We certainly did not expect this request because it was not written anywhere. At that point we had to change all our plans because we didn’t have all that money with us and especially we didn’t understand the reason why we had to pay such a big amount of money if it wasn’t indicated on the rental papers in our hands. Since it was the first time for us to rent a car we were ignorant about these rules already known all over the world. So all that we could do was asking the man to take us in the city Centre, close to the Medina. He was so kind that he accepted to do this favor. Once we left the airport, he said that he would have stopped somewhere to watch the football match because his favorite team, Barcelona,  was playing. In fact this is what he did. He stopped the vehicle in the middle of nowhere to watch the match. He left us there saying that he would have taken us to the Medina in case Barcelona had won.



To be honest, I started to be slightly nervous. I didn’t like that place at all. The hut where the people were watching the match was plenty of men. Only men, not even a single woman and there were no other buildings around. That memory is still so fresh in my mind that even now I perfectly remember every single detail around us. My friend tried to calm me down saying that nothing would have happened but believe me it was not that much easy especially when seeing him not caring about us at all, I was going terribly mad. We begged him to call at least a taxi which could take us to our hotel and thank God, someone there present was about to leave and he took us to Medina. Finally when we reached the walls of  Medina, we were really happy, we lost the deposit of € 56.38 which we paid previously to rent a car but at least we were safe. Upon arrival to our hotel, the owner helped us to find another solution. The day after he took us to a friend owning a local renting company who could rent a car to us for a cheap price. After all that happened to us the day before, I didn’t know how I have been able to trust them but we had to try and fortunately, we were lucky in so. The owner of our hotel, having understood the situation, gave us all his support to continue the journey with our quite an old car. The vehicle had such a little gas that we had to go around and around to find immediately a gas station. Once did this, we were finally ready to start our trip. The planned stages were the following: Fez, Rabat (via Meknes), Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fez again from where we had the flight back home. Their highway had a great viability, there were just few cars on the road so we could drive smoothly. We were also tempetd to drive fast but many people in Italy, who had already been to Morocco, have recommended us earlier that we would have facing fines for sure for over speeds. So we kept the limit under control. Since we saw their method to detect the speed limit, we no longer wanted to risk. In fact the Moroccan police were very fond of speed traps, plenty of them stay hidden behind the trees with cameras and when they saw a vehicle exceeding the limit, somehow they stopped the driver at the next exit. Yes, we saw the traffic policeman standing in the middle of the highway waiting for the vehicle to stop. Along our road trip we saw this so many times. We didn’t want to waste our time and money for this reason so we maintained the limit as requested which if I’m not mistaken was 120 km/h for highways and 60 km/h in urban areas.



Our car probably had a small problem; it was a bit noisy when using the break. It seemed like the tire could detached out. But neither of us ventured to say this in order to avoid scaring each other.
Another thing we needed to be aware along the way was people who walked across the highways in the rural areas. It happened frequently. We also tried once to walk across the highway while driving back to Fez. In fact at some point, we took a stop, on a bridge, in the middle of nowhere. When we went out of the car we saw that the view on the other side of the highway was way much better than the one we had by our side. When I wanted to ask my friend if she was willing to cross the highway, I saw her running towards the traffic island but then suddenly I heard her screaming at my direction not to jump because in the middle of the highway, between the traffic island instead of pavement, there was a hole that went directly into the river! Her plan (and obviously also mine) was jumping in between the traffic island, waiting there for a sec to the cars from the other direction to pass, and then crossing again the highway to reach the other end to take some photos. We were on a bridge! We didn’t expect that hole in the middle. Once back to Italy, we learned that all bridges in the highway have a hole in between the lanes of the opposing direction, they are not connected with each other. Imagine what they would have writen on newspapers: two strangers jumped from the bridge in Morocco! After that moment we were a bit shaken but it didn’t stop us. We drove a bit further, until the end of the bridge, where crossing the highway in order to take all the wanted photos. Back then it was a scary adventure but now, it is a crazy and funny adventure that we still laugh off when remembering.


In my experience, an advice goes for parkings in the cities. In Morocco, it was almost like a game. Most people parked where they liked but parking attendants patrolled many streets in the big cities looking out for cars they can ticket. There was no hard rule as to why you would have targeted so it was better to park where there was little room for misinterpretation of the situation. I think it is better leaving the car close to the highways and getting to the city by taxi which was not only cheap but also the easiest way to best manage both the parking and the time. People in the cities seemed not following the traffic rules while driving or walking and for this reason it has been hard to handle the situation. Morocco was a Google maps friendly country. It helped us a lot. We bought a Moroccan sim card upon arrival to the country in order to use the internet services. We could use google maps to guide us. It worked perfectly except once when it took us wrongly right inside the walls of Medina. Heavy motors were not allowed inside the Medinas, we had to leave the vehicle out of the walls. Only carts, bikes and motorbikes were allowed there, so imagine what happened to us when we got inside with our car.


There were no food centers along the highways so we had to enter into the cities when wanting to eat. Finally when we finished our trip and gave back the car to the rental company in Fez, we could finally be relaxed. Both of us, even if we didn’t talk about the tire during the entire journey, knew very well that something wrong could have been happened and if it had happened, we wouldn’t have known what to do. Thankfully everything went better than we thought.
If I ever go back to Morocco, I will for sure rent a car again!!! There is nothing compared to what we saw along the way: wonderful nature, lovely rural villages, cute little children, donkeys at work and so on!

32 comments:

  1. hi
    grt article , one can never be fully prepared and glad things turned out well on the first day

    rgds

    sumit

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  2. I had the same issues with renting a car in Sicily. They made us buy extra insurances to even still get the car! It was terrible. I always find renting a car a bit stressful. So many questions, deposits, insurances. And getting to know the car! It's nice that Morocco is a Google Maps friendly country. That's so handy!

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  3. Wow! I would have been scared out of my skin. Thank God you and your friend are safe. But that is definitely good advice.

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  4. That sounds so scary Anaj. It's always so disconcerting when your in a foreign country and you have no idea what the rules are. I'm glad everything worked out okay and that you've got some good memories from your trip to Morocco. I've always wanted to go there

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    1. You should go because it is not as strict as we believe... When you respect their culture, they will respect yours.

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  5. When we go driving around other countries we always try to keep sandwiches in the car with us to avoid having to enter a city to get some food.
    You guys were brave though... When visiting countries with a very different culture we always try to avoid those type of situations as much as possible, because we never know what could go wrong.

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  6. Sounds kind of scary. Glad that it all worked out fine in the end. I have never been on a roadtrip in Morocco but now I know what to remember if i do!

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  7. OH no .I would have been so so scared. Thankfully you guys are safe.

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  8. Wow! I feel like I am with you on that adventure! Glad you both came home safe and sound! Things to note when visiting Morocco!

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  9. I am glad you made it back safely. It sounds like quite the nervous adventure. I've always wanted to go to Morrocco, but it never occurred to me that something as simple as choosing the right car rental would be so complex!

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  10. Oh wow, this sounds like a horrible experiences to of had, I don't know how I would have been able to handle it.

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  11. What an experience. I can imagine why you didn't feel comfortable in that place and if I were there, I would have felt the same way. Glad you got a ride back and in the end it was all well

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  12. I too love exploring countries via road trips ... but sometimes I am not 100% sure. In Morocco we decided to go for a car with a driver instead of driving ourself.

    ❥ tanvii.com

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  13. Never knew the roads there have such things. You published the good things to know for someone who goes there.

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  14. What an experience. I can totally understand the nervousness when you are in foreign land and the way you have planned the trip to start didn't go well. I am glad things turned out well after the initial hiccup. Morocco is already on my travel wishlist, thank you for sharing the tips.

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  15. That sounds like a scary experience. I wouldn't be brave enough to drive in foreign land not to mention highway. Glad to hear you guys are safe.

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  16. Oh my goodness I would have been terrified, I am so glad that the trip turned out ok and that you were all safe. That sounds incredibly dodgey and irresponsible of the car company to treat you in that way. I will certainly bare all these things in mind should I visit Morroco one day x

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  17. That initial experience was terrible. I wouldn't have known what to do if I were in your situation. But fortunately it came a little smoother in the end.

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  18. That was a crazy scary experience especially when you're in a new place! It's really good that nothing bad happened and that you were able to finish your trip.

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  19. Oh that was really scary experience. Glad everything was fine and you are safe, and hopefully you still had a good adventure there despite of what happened.Thanks for the tips.

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  20. Wow! I would've been nervous too! I'm glad that the car didn't break down and leave you stranded. Its good that you can laugh at it now!

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  21. We would love to explore new places via road and this looks a bit scary experience. Glad all went well and you have an experience to share with everyone.

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  22. That sounds very scary! I’m glad that you’re able to share this experience to help others. I’m also glad that you’re safe.

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  23. I'm glad you enjoyed Morocco despite what you went through! I will definitely take note and learn from your experience!

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  24. That was really some experience indeed. But all is well that ends well. So you were safe which is so important. But good to see that in spite of a bad start you were able to pull through and enjoy the sights of Morocco.

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  25. What a wild ride in a place that you aren't familiar with. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

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  26. That sounds so scary experience. I am glad that you are safe. I hope that even what happened you will enjoy your trip and had a good time. Thanks for helpful tips.

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  27. You what though, although the experience must have been quite scary at the time, you now have a story, a good traveling story or even adventure to tell :D - I was actually quite interested in this as I'm thinking of going to Marrakesh for N.Y.E with a freind who's traveling there but I'm not sure if we will be going on any road trips though. I will definitely bare this in mind if we do go

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  28. Great to know that you guys are safe. Those are some great advice. Definitely be handy while travelling on roads.

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  29. Seems like the driving here is a little random. With no particular parking spaces, it definitely becomes worrisome leaving the car behind. However, your experience does help people who are heading there to figure out if they want to try self drives or just leave it to the locals.

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  30. Wow what a Magnificent nd long post , yeah hoon by taxi is a better option in Morocco. Than the car finally read all :-)

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  31. Scaryyyy. But it's stories like this where we realize that even though these things happen we need to find that silver lining.

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