I've spent the passed 12 days in Rabat arranging and awaiting a parcel from the UK. Today was a long day but brought closure to what has felt like a saga. Apologies for the long post without pictures!
Over the passed 12 days, I have explored Rabat, met interesting and cool people, and completed tasks for the journey and my website. In other words, I have been very busy! A Swiss guy called Alex who rode a KTM 950 stayed in the hostel. He had a 45 litre tank that could go for about 700-800 km! He was very kind, paid for my tajine one evening, and gifted fruit and water when he departed. Had a cool time exploring Rabat at night with Adam. We got to see a different side to Rabat, such as a fair ground, and watched the world go by next to the river. Spent many hours chatting with Lee about all sorts off stuff and life. He was travelling on foot and wild camping too. Kahlid and others working at the hostel were very kind and good fun.
Back to the parcel and today's adventure. I said goodbye to Abdo and Thami who kept my bike secure. As I departed, the bike cut out. Not sure why, but hasn't happened since.
Soon after departing and during rush hour traffic, my front wheel lost traction on a wet round about at about 10-15 mph. Sprinklers watering the grass on the round about had leaked onto the tarmac. I went down like a sack of spuds and my bike skated across the tarmac into the next lane. I had stopped traffic again during rush hour! The first time was crossing the border into Gibraltar. A traffic policewoman approached me speaking French. The only word I understood was ambulance. I checked myself over, said no, and gestured my intention to wheel the bike to the petrol station 10 metres away. The clutch pedal was slightly bent out of position, but the bike appeared fine and no issues since.
I eventually arrived at the courier's office in the freight zone at Casablanca airport. The last time I was here was about 15 years ago with my brother to collect luggage that had been lost on our flight. After a half hour wait at the couriers office, I spoke to the agents who were brokers for the parcel. I suspected that customs rejected the parcel because of the battery bank or paper map, which either require special handling or are prohibited, respectively (yes -- maps are prohibited from importation in Morocco!) They said there were customs duties and taxes that were 2700 Dirhams, which is five times the value of the most expensive item (battery bank). The card reader for logging onto my bank account had to get authorisation from some banking authority. It was strange, and I'm not sure they fully understood its use despite sending them links to explanations on my banks website. My heart sank. Showing them an email receipt for the battery reduced the cost down to 750 Dirhams, and they never mentioned the card reader again. Still too much, but they said I could have the items today upon payment.
Payment could only be taken in the customs building, so I hoped on my bike and rode outside the freight zone (gated). Card payment was not possible, and the nearest bank was at the airport. Couldn't see any ATMs outside the terminal, so I ventured inside. To do so, I had to go through security at the entrance who scanned my bag and helmet. They patted me down and found all the protective armour in my riding gear (elbows, knees etc), which had been put to good use that morning on a wet round about. Felt so bizarre going into the airport in all my riding gear! First ATM didn't work, but the second brought success. I returned to the customs office and paid up. I returned to the courier who asked for payment of broker fees and parcel storage. Costs were starting to really add up. Everything was paid, and all hurdles were jumped.
I got the parcel containing my carnet, battery bank, map, card reader, and socket! I thought that was it, but the guard at the gate to the freight zone saw the parcel and asked for a bit of paperwork. Finally, the last hurdle was complete!
It was midafternoon, and all I had eaten was a banana and orange that morning. I rode back to Rabat (about 1.5 hours with partial rain) and devoured chicken, chips, rice, bread, cake, and biscuits. The journey back was interesting. I saw a lorry with 3 cows on its roof (4+ metres high), a boy roller blading on the main road, and a military escort for a fancy Mercedes Benz car and loads of police at every junction for a long stretch.