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Dr Bob's Moroccan Prescription PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

Dr  Bob's Moroccan Prescription

Financial & Other Considerations for a Motorhome Journey in Morocco

Dr Bob and Sandra
February 2010

Following his two month circuit of Morocco in December 2009 to February 2010 with his partner, Sandra, Dr Bob shares his experience of a very wide range of relevant financial and other matters. His advice will be of great help to any other caravanner or motorhomer planning a journey in this very challenging country.

To read the full account of their Moroccan journey, click: Dr Bob and Sandra's Tour of Morocco

To read more travel logs by Dr Bob, click:

Dr Bob and the Spanish Fiestas by Motorhome

Dr Bob Travels Spain's Silver Road by Motorhome

Dr Bob Right Round Australia by Discovery and Caravan

Dr Bob's Australian Prescription

Dr Bob Returns to Australia

Dr Bob in Portugal 2010

POINTS TO BEAR IN MIND TRAVELLING IN MOROCCO

Money: Exchange Rates 1=11.11 Dh 1GBP=12.71 Dh

We were carrying Euros cash and Bank Cards from UK, Spain and Australia. We stopped cashing Euros when we found the ATMs gave a better rate. However we needed to use our Spanish Card as we never found a Bank ATM here that would accept our NatWest Card. We contacted NatWest, only to be informed that they had arrangement with 'certain Banks only' and advised us to 'keep trying'. We ended up always using the Spanish Card as that was invariably accepted. It may be as well to check with your Bank to obtain a list of which Moroccan Banks they have an agreement with. As with Australia, it may be that you can go into the Bank, present Card and Passport, and have the transaction processed manually. Not sure of the ability to change Dirhams to or in Spain or UK but when we used a local currency exchange in Asilah they required a Passport (for date of entry) and a receipt from a Bank or ATM here in Morocco to confirm we had changed or drawn money in the country. The transfer on 1000 Dh to cost us the equivalent of 4.

1. The average wage for a skilled artisan is 60 Dh/hour, so consider this when handing out tips etc.

2. Parking should be no more than 2 Dh/hr. If more is demanded just say 'NO' and ask where the Police Station is. Obviously overnight parking is more, at about 30 Dh with or without services if 'gardien'-controlled.

3. An Official Guide is 120-130 Dh/3 hours, so any touts you happen to succumb to should not get more. And that's a total amount, not per person as they may claim. If you decide to engage an Official Guide he must have an appropriate badge, not just any bit of paper. Most wear them around their necks. YOU confirm the price, list what you wish to see, and say whether you do or do not wish to visit shops. You should NEVER shop with the guide in attendance as the price increases by 40% or more.

4. We never gave tips in a Fuel Station as you hand over the amount in cash you want to buy in fuel.

5. Use the same Ticket Seller we did, but insist on the Slow Ferry unless you want to pay 50 more for an hour's difference. We understand they try to sell the tickets for the 'Fast Ferry' first. Carlos also changes /s into Dh and buys them back when you return.

6. Referring to 5 above, change some Euros into Dirham, especially getting change in advance. This way you can pay the 'facilitators' at the dock in Tangier in Dh as you arrive. Keep it to 40-50 Dh or less and not the 10 (110 Dh) we gave. They don't ask for a fixed amount, they just ask for a 'tip' and try to make you feel beholen. They do a good job and save you hassle but it takes them minutes and you still need to go to an Office with another dock attendant to get your documents checked, and he expects a tip as well. When you park outside to get insurance or just change more money, the parking attendant is there immediately. Remember the 2 Dh/hr rule, as he is there offering you change for 5, 10 and 20 notes in an attempt to get you to give him more. Please note the comments on the final day as we exited through Tangier docks. You really don't need the touts on the outside of the port as you just take your ticket etc to the appropriate ticket office. However, we thought the old lad inside worthy of a degree of largesse.

7. Because of the constant pressure and hassle to buy/sell etc, we really felt safer and more comfortable on campsites, even though in most cases the facilities were absent or disgusting. Bear in mind we NEVER use campsites in Spain, Australia etc except in extremis or for security in cities. So, for us, this advice is not given lightly. However, make absolutely sure that you note any list of tariffs, as ones can crop up that you had no idea were not in the total price. In Agadir, for example, we were ultimately charged 4 Dh pp per day for showers that were so filthy as to be unusable. That then changed to the same for water, when we stated we didn't use them because of their disgusting state. The site outside Rabat at Tamara you just wouldn't have stayed on if you had noted the true price and knew that electricity, water, toilets etc were not available. Here we were told one price, but another was displayed when we were leaving. In Chefchaouan it was 10 Dh for a hot shower, added to your bill on a daily basis by the Reception who handed out the shower lock key.

8. We are told that currently in excess of 25,000 motorhomes visit Morocco annually. In consequence there is an immense industry based around motorhomes and almost all services can be accessed through the campsites. (But shop around, as obviously there is going to be a 'kick-back' to the site owner for allowing access). We had Solar fitted at Atlantic Park, Taghazoute and re-upholstery at Agadir, courtesy of info from some Brits we met. But at Camping Atlantica, Taghazoute, there was a little man who dealt specifically in repairs to plastic skirts, whilst his brother, Ali, did spraying. (Kim and Darren had their H Reg whizz-bang de-rusted and totally resprayed and are reporting an excellent job and VFM). A 'plastics' man was immediately at our motorhome at Aglou beach, Tiznit, and even dragged me over to a French motorhome to show me his workmanship. Actually I wasn't impressed. Khalid and his brother at Atlantic Park, Tafraoute paint Moroccan scenes on any part of your vehicle, including both sides of the Satellite dish. (Khalid did ours - bodywork not dish). A lovely Brit couple we met in Marrakech had paid 80 to have repairs to their skirt, wheel-arch and bodywork that had been quoted at 500 in UK.

9. Do not expect to get a 'real' price for ANYTHING (unless it is written down, eg campsite fees, fuel, menus, etc). You are quoted a price and then immediately asked 'how much you pay?' Wipers at 400 Dh/set dropped to 50 Dh plus a pen.

10. The roads: Please believe me when I say they are atrocious, with the exception of the motorways. This failing includes the N (red) roads, which can be as bad as the R (yellow) roads. More often than not it's a slalom just to avoid the potholes and oncoming traffic.

11. Road Users: Other vehicles, pedestrians, donkeys, carts, cyclists, mopeds etc. Having worked and served, driven and been driven in approx 12 other Arab counties over 28 years, the roads here are no surprise (even though these are supposedly 'westernised' Arabs). Sandra, however, and Derek when he was with us, were appalled, frightened, annoyed and furious to degrees. There is no sanity or order, and it really is 'every man for himself '. You need 'eyes in the back of your head' and 2 pairs to the front and sides. Mopeds and cyclists zigzag everywhere and pedestrians invariably walk out before looking. You will see taxis driving through crowded streets constantly sounding their horns - just like India. We were told that should they strike anyone, then the horn has been sounded and notice and warning given. Probably doesn't count for tourists though.

12. Things worth purchasing or considering purchasing: Solar system, upholstery, Tajine (1.8 for a basic pottery Tajine, which the locals use and which is recommended if you are going to cook Tajines), paintwork/artwork, plastic skirt repairs. Possibly made-to-measure annexes and external screens for cab windows. (Not sure as didn't interest us and don't know the UK price.) Bodywork and spraying including rust. Woodwork from an artisan's shop.

13. Considerations: Before you leave for Morocco, stock up on the following. Beer and Wine - it's here but of dubious quality and at a price far in excess of Spain. We have found no-one who was checked by Customs coming through. Soft drinks, UHT milk, cheeses, margarine, sweetener, wet wipes if you use them (1/pack in Lidl, 5 in Morocco). As much tinned food as you can manage, although don't bother if you eat out a lot. Medication (we had only brought enough for 45 days) - probably the biggest mark-up of all for an impoverished country and am sure Sandra was either subject to a rip-off, or double pricing, or both. We paid 180 Dh for 28 Omeprazole and 20 Aspirin tabs. The former OTC in Spain are 3.50 and aspirin in UK 0.19 in Tesco/Asda. Obviously both are free on prescription in UK if over 60, but we pay for medications. I am convinced that we were quoted 5 in Sale/Rabat. Be prepared to walk away, as she should have done! Pet food prices are ludicrously high.

14. Internet : 'Cyber' on signs. Extremely cheap but Arabic keyboards, which are not difficult. For any printing the staff will need to input keyboard strokes.

15. Language: Take a French dictionary (if you are not fluent).

16. Electrics: We now have a Moroccan plug on one of our electrical hook-ups. It's a 2 pin, exactly like Spain but with a single, small central hole above the 2 pins. The Moroccan receiver has 2 holes and a central pin that sticks in the small hole. A UK one would be of no benefit.

17. Garages: If you decide to have any work done on your vehicle, our advice would be to stay with it at all times. Derek nearly had his Chausson jacked through the garage roof when he was having a puncture repaired at Mohammedia, due to insufficient headroom - he took it to a second garage. David and Carol in their Australian whizz-bang returned to the garage to be told that the garage couldn't identify the fault. It was only later that day, and 200 km away when they stopped for the day and opened the sliding side door, that they realised that the garage had not used the correct jacking point and in consequence had buckled the metal skirt/sill below the door and in front of the rear wheel arch. Obviously there was no point in them returning, as liability would be denied.

18. Artisans' Workshops/shops: These are found everywhere and house comprehensive collections of goods for sale, not only from the vicinity but from all over Morocco. They are veritable treasure houses, and the prices are fixed and not open to negotiation. We really only visited the one in Marrakech and the prices of goods was so inflated, we thought, as to be laughable. There were hardly any other browsers. I was interested in buying a 1m diameter Brass Plate to replace the one stolen from our cottage in Spain but we thought 200, for one of the correct size but wafer thin, was too expensive by far. This was probably our only real mistake as we saw one in El Jadida, for which only 170 was requested. It was second-hand but it was thick, heavy and with a rolled edge. In 1977 in Libya I paid 100 for the one stolen 30 years later. So Artisans' Workshops are there for easy shopping, but I will leave the decision to you.