Passage to Morocco

img_2792A most interesting, frustrating, instructive day. This morning we chose the wrong breakfast and had to pay an extra 11 euros because scrambled egg was not part of the set breakfast you get with your inclusive meals ticket nor apparently was Graeme’s yogurt! But my first concern of the day was waking up worried about my passport. I had handed it over to an official on the ferry when we parked the van. He had assured me that it was a necessary and normal procedure. During the middle of the night it felt neither normal nor necessary but exceptionally stupid of me to hand it over. A visit to reception confirmed it was a normal and necessary procedure, taken in case they needed to contact me. I left wondering why they would want to contact me…….I would later find out!

We spent the rest of the morning pouring over the map of Morocco, reading the Rough Guide and any other blogs we could access on the internet. One blog casually mentioned the need for a Vehicle Import Form for the van. According to Moroccan procedure any visiting vehicle needs to be temporarily imported into the country. A swift search on the internet confirmed this and linked me to online forms which could be completed and printed off. This, it assured us, would save a lot of hassle on arrival in Tangiers. Unfortunately, it requires the chassis number of the van and the original registration date, all this information was in the van which was inaccessible, barricaded somewhere on deck C. Well, we consoled ourselves, at least we would have the information ready and would just have to endure the hassle of having to complete the forms on arrival.

Around midday an announcement was made to say that the boat would soon be docking at Barcelona and soon after this I thought I heard my name announced over the tannoy.  Graeme said he hadn’t heard anything and was going out on deck to watch the boat dock. Again, a request came for MILLTAN but this time for LIZ A BET MILLTAN. As my second name is Elizabeth I thought it wise to check with reception. Before I had a chance to pack away all the papers, books and maps, another more urgent announcement was made for LIZ A BET MILLTAN. The reception desk was brusque YES! indeed they had been calling for me for some time and PLEASE! would I go down to deck C immediately to move my van so the articulated lorries could get off the ferry. Rather flustered, I rushed to deck C and headed towards the van. There were several attendants who by their gestures were also indicating an urgency to move the van. I was asked to drive off the boat and wait on the quayside. As I drove off one of the quayside stewards tried to urge me to drive towards the exit but I assured him I WAS getting back on the ship! A very friendly Spanish security guard came up and asked if I was waiting for my luggage? I assured him that on the contrary, I was rather keen to join my luggage back on the boat, along with my husband.

By this time articulated lorries began rolling off the boat and forklift trucks were driving on to bring offnumerous long containers.  After I had been waiting a while I looked up to the high rear decks to see Graeme waving down at me. He had apparently looked down and noticed a motorhome identical to ours, it even had a solar panel and satellite dish in the same place as ours, and what’s more in the driver’s seat there was also was a female identical to his wife! A wife, whom he thought, was safely tucked in the corner of the bar reading up on Morocco and not trying to make a quick exit in Barcelona! After further confusion and several attempts to board, each ship’s steward having a different view on where and when I should go, I was finally parked and heading for the bar, happily clutching the documents that we needed to complete the vehicle import form!

In the bar and two large gins later we had filled in the forms, with all the information we went to the reception where a rather reluctant receptionist only agreed to print the forms after I pleaded that it was the least they could do having made me sit out on the quayside so long. Printing completed we went into lunch, this time, making sure we chose the right food.

More research in the afternoon uncovered the need for immigration documents which it advised were usually available on the ferry. Back to reception who informed us that the immigration forms were available on the fourth deck which we found devoid of anything except a disco and slot machines. Back upstairs we were informed the immigration officer was in the disco! Back down to the fourth deck the immigration officer was indeed in the disco and very charming he was too. Needing our passport numbers, I explained handing over of my passport to the steward, and he, somewhat horrified, explained that I would not be allowed into Morocco without my passport. Another trip to the reception (up three deck levels) with the form where the receptionist, with great nonchalance, opened an unlocked drawer and took out my passport! Returning to the disco the charming man checked the forms, stamped our passports and welcomed us to Morocco!

It was time for another gin!

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