Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Five Go Mad In Morocco !

Between school & University (Nottingham, where I lasted just 3 weeks!), I flew to Bilbao, Spain, with another student of Spanish. We were planning to hitch-hike around the country for 6 weeks. My dad was SO mean that I had just £60 to last 6 weeks!! This meant that for long periods my food was just bread & tomato sauce!!

Luckily, we met up with a group of young Brits with a hired Ford Transit van, just south of Madrid, and they took us with them to Morocco for ten days for just £20 each, all-in. The fact that my 'vistors passport' wasn't actually valid for Morocco was easily overcome by some sleight of hand with the Moroccan border-guard. However, on the way back out, there was a cholera epidemic in the south and the Spanish wouldn't let us & 3 irish girls into the Spanish Protectorate of Ceuta (in Nth. Africa).

The van simply had to return to England - so we two, plus the aforementioned 3 girls and an extra guy, were all stranded in no-mans land for a week, after having been given cholera shots in the most unhygienic conditions possible. Needles were used and then left in a fly-ridden tray of water, which was boiled before the needles were used again. Long haired hippies were also being forced to have their heads shaved before they were allowed into Morocco. No particular reason - just a bit of fun for the border guards.

Talking of drugs, whilst stranded we met a young German who'd been give a Mercedes to drive back to Germany, in-return for the promise of much cash. Unfortunately, the clutch went and he drove it onto the beach. His documents (Including driving-licence photo) were for a girl! He knew there were drugs hidden in the car but didn't know where. He was about to enter Algeciras, in Spain , which is one of the toughest drug-search customs posts in the whole world! We gave him a wide berth, so as not to be incriminated by association.

If we were in the cafe in no-man's-land, and the Moroccan Chief of Police came in for his (free) lunch, we were advised to leave. The fact that he laid his loaded revolver on the table before commencing was probably warning enough, to be honest.

After seven days, on the stroke of midnight, it was deemed that the innoculations would have taken effect and we were allowed into Spanish Ceuta. From there we took the ferry across to Algeciras, on the Spanish mainland, before splitting into groups of two in order to hitch-hike back to the U.K.

My friend and I almost fell at the final hurdle when we foolishly set up our tent underneath an electricity pylon, opposite the airport in Bilbao, the night before our departure. When the security guard asked why we were not on a campsite, I said that it was because we had no money.

Big mistake!! I had forgotten that Franco's Spain had very tough vagrancy laws. Anyone found with less than the equivalent of GB£20 on them could be thrown into jail for vagrancy. Luckily, my pal had richer parents than my own and his promise that he would lend me some of his cash was sufficient for me to avoid jail.

We got home, safely, with chestnut-brown suntans and hair bleached blonde by the sun. I had lost at least a stone in weight, and the sun had had such a health-giving effect on me that I hardly felt the cold, at all, that winter.

How on-earth we survived all of these mad adventures . . unscathed . . and with so little planning . . . will forever remain a mystery and stand as an enduring example, perhaps, of what can be achieved with 'youth' and pure, unadulterated 'dumb-luck' on your side.

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