Fri 11th & Sat 12th September
Volubilis & Fes, Morcco – Fri 11th & Sat 12th September
This morning we have put aside an hour first thing for a quick truck orientation. Luca and Darren explain how life works on the truck, where everything lives, the padlock combinations for the main door and lockers. They also run through the 5 week itinerary, the list of daily jobs and the cook groups. The daily jobs include:
- packing and unpacking the back locker (where all our personal bags are stored) and not an easy job – one for the boys;
- truck cleaning (daily sweeping and washing the floor etc);
- bulk monitor & purchaser (food, cleaning products, toilet paper etc);
- environmentalist & green waste hole digger (recycling plastics, cans and disposal of green waste) - me!;
- kitchen set up and pack up (chairs, tables, gas cooker etc);
- jerry can monitor (ensuring they are constantly full of water for washing up etc);
- chief of security (windows never left open, door always locked after the last person, everyone present).
- esky maintenance (barman & sourcing ice)
- tents storage (stored on truck roof under tarp)
The meals are provided by cook groups, or pairs of people, according to a rota. Each group is required to come up with meal ideas, purchase the food and then provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for 16 hungry people on their allocated day. Couples are split up and males are paired with females (just in case). Each cook group is also on a washing up rota but it turns out that the entire group consists of a teamy bunch of individuals who are all very keen to muck in regardless of allocated task. No slackers here.
After driving east through Meknes we arrive at Volubilis among the sweeping landscapes on the edge of the Middle Atlas Mountains. Achmed our guide talks with an American accent as his English has been learnt watching movies and listening to music. These ancient Roman ruins are the best preserved archaeological site in Morocco. The city used to home 20,000 people and still contains some well preserved floor mosaics.
On arrival in Fes and our first campsite for the trip so far, we were welcomed by more rain and the early onset of darkness. Fortunately the campsite has an inside kitchen area so we offload all the food and utensil boxes inside. Those that hadn’t camped before were given a tent demo by Darren and anyone that could squeeze their tent into the kitchen area did so while the rest of us pitched on the hard rocky ground in the pouring rain. Fortunately we weren’t preparing dinner that evening and instead headed into town for a very enjoyable Moroccan feast in a beautiful building that was formally a palace. During the meal of salads, tagines and fresh fruit we were entertained by traditional music and dance.
The following morning we were picked up by Abdel for a guided city tour of one of the biggest Medinas in Morocco. It is so huge that getting lost is a given without a guide, and in our case ‘with a guide’!. Walking round the old lanes in the souk was crowded but fascinating. Every now and then a donkey would push past laden down with a very wide load – on one such occasion the load consisted of a huge pile of fresh animal skins being taken to the tannery. There were men making copper saucepans, mending shoes, weaving clothes to butchers selling camel heads, ladies making bread and selling sacks of spices, dried fruit and olives. The lanes were very clean and bustling with the daily activity.
Our final stop was at a tannery, where animal skins are dried in the sun, dipped in lime, urine, pigeon excrement and dye to produce a variety of leather products in every shade imaginable. The men have a grim job semi immersed in the vats, breathing in the nauseous fumes in the heat of the sun.
Our first big food shop for cook groups 1 & 2 is made in a fairly well stocked supermarket on the way home with everyone eagerly participating. Once back at the campsite the gin is opened and before dinner is served 2 litres have been easily polished off with a selection of the souk’s nibbles. Fortunately there are also 4 crates of red wine just waiting to be started. Our first proper camping evening is a huge success and we all sleep very well.