Breakdown cover in Morocco

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Martin1
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Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by Martin1 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:15 pm

We know our breakdown cover is useless in Morocco. So what do you do when you need help?

My pal Steve and me on GS1200’s and John on an Aprilia Caponord have been in Morocco for a few days now and are heading north for Marrakesh after an overnight stay in Ouarzazate. We come in over the famous Tizi n’Tichka pass. During the decent into Marrakesh, Steve’s bike dies but then re-starts. We carry on and what follows is our experience when a problem becomes one of the highlights of our trip.

We follow my Sat Nav into the Medina, which basically involves riding through a gateway in the wall that surrounds the inner, old city. The road gives way to narrow alleys and then back to large main roads and open spaces. We stop in the shade of a side road to take stock and look for the hotel that’s already booked. Steve stops and the engine dies! It won’t restart!

Sunday afternoon in a hot, chaotic, noisy and unfamiliar North African Islamic city. No problem! Steve rings a BMW number, no chance! The nearest place is in Agadir, but they do have the number of a good local mechanic. Steve rings him, a minute later a man appears, out of thin air, on an XR250, wearing tee shirt and shorts.

He tries a few things, the starter motor is stuck. He calls for his mechanic, who is slight in stature and wears a bandana. They try the jump leads from my bike…nothing. So now, the plan is to get Steve to the mechanics garage. But how? Trailer, Van, Tow rope? “No problem my friend” says Chakib.

He asks Steve to get on his bike. The mechanic jumps on mine. Mysteriously, Steve moves off! The mechanic gives me directions on Frenarabish with hand signals, which always look the same to me. Imagine this…it’s hot, we are in the middle of a strange Islamic city, we are tired, confused and have to look sideways for directions, scan 360 degrees and to look out for traffic, people and animals!

It transpires that Chakib has his right leg stuck out and is pushing on Steve’s pannier while riding his own bike and looking out for us too…”no problem my friend”.

We arrive at a large traffic Island and are directed at right angles to the traffic, straight across and up a curb to come to rest under the shade of a tree. This is the garage! Here too, are a German couple waiting to pick up their trail bikes which they are hiring from Chakib. Parked by the side, is his van, and a trailer, with two GS600’s on it. We relax a little. It transpires that Chakib is the manager of M2R a motorcycle rental company who can be found at http://www.m2r.ma

The mechanics try several things and in the end discover that the battery is useless and needs a new one (the bike is two years old and bought from new!). This is beginning to sound expensive and since we have been ripped off a couple of times already, we dread to think how much all this wonderful service is going to cost (Previous experience of “guides” in other cities, had taught us that they will find you a hotel, but at some point, the hand comes out and a tip is required. We’d got the hang of it in the end, but we’d felt intimidated initially).

While all this is going on, I am trying to find the hotel on my iPad and Sat Nav. Neither can find it. We have an address but not a clue where it is in this crazy city. We ring several times…no answer. “No problem my friend” says Chakib and tethers his iPhone to my iPad to give me Internet access. He gets water for us to drink and even offers hot drinks if we need them. He looks at the address and immediately knows where it is. He then makes arrangements for Steve’s bike to be stored. He jumps on a tiny moped and asks Steve to jump on the back. There is barely room for one let alone two! With Steve’s knees around his ears they set of; John and myself follow. We are on big trailies with full panniers and other stuff strapped on from Steve’s bike. We are in full riding gear and helmets, its 30C. It’s like trying to follow a flea. Chakib darts around all over the place and we try to keep up. Finally we bump up onto another pavement. Police guard the entrance into the heart of this part of the ancient Medina. Chakib waves at them, they wave back and we press on. We are stepping back to some medieval time. Biblical even. The walls close in, there are people, mopeds, push bikes and donkey’s pulling narrow carts. We tower above them on our massive machines. They part like the Red Sea. The walls close in some more and we turn left down another narrow ally way.

Finally Chakib disappears through a hole in the wall, Steve hanging on. We stop. Surely he isn’t expecting us to go down this hole. It is barely wider than our bikes. With the help of enthusiastic children, we reverse our bikes back to a wider area. A hand cart turns up, our gear is thrown on it. Chakib reappears. Steve is nowhere to be seen. What now? “No problem my friend, follow me”.

Back out we go, finally, to an official car park 2k from the Red Sea, to a corner where Chakib has a deal with the officials and a place where his hire bikes are stored. Now, we need a Taxi to get back to the Medina. He gives me an address on a scrap of paper. It’s in Arabic. We hail a Taxi, one swerves across the main road, scattering traffic all around. It’s a dump of a vehicle but welcome to us.

He coughs and splutters his way back, the vehicle does too. He drops us by the police guards and we walk back to the hole in the wall. In we go, the floor is dirt, the roof beams bending and buckling. It zig’s and zag’s left and right. Dark and desolate. Robed and hooded people appear from around the corners. A donkey passes by with a load as big as itself strapped on its back. We squeeze against the wall to let it pass. Finally we come to a solid black door with a smaller door within it. It’s set into a plain concrete wall. It can’t go anywhere surely? How can it?I

The small door opens, we are confused and about as far as we can be from our comfort zones. We leave those on planet earth, we are on a strange galaxy in a faraway universe. Steve appears, cool, serene and in his shorts. I think he looks hypnotised!

We have entered a traditional Moroccan Riad hotel. It’s a world of cool, quiet, plants, trees, rustic rugs, candles light dark corners and incense burns. The bedrooms are spacious with ample beds. There are terraces on top of the building looking out over the city with sun loungers and shaded areas covered by enormous parasols. We suspend belief, there’s no point trying to take it all in or understand it. We just soak it up and enjoy the contrast with the world on the other side of the very thick door and walls. This is an alcohol free, dry country. They hand us a cool beer!

Later we explore the Medina. That’s another story. The following day we relax on the terrace after a glorious breakfast by the pool (I forgot to mention that). This is a like a Tardis, we are in a time machine, and it’s taken us back several hundred years. Not that sure we want to be transported back! Someday soon maybe… Steve rings Chakib. The bike will be ready the following day…shame! He has found a battery.

The following day we go back to the garage. The bike is there, repaired. Prior to this we had tried to estimate the bill. Consider how hard Chakib and his team have helped us. The battery would cost about £100 alone in the UK. We have plenty of cash if we pool it all. Chakib wonders a little. His eyes look up to the heavens as if for divine intervention. He says “It was easy my friend, so how about 700 Dirhams”. That’s £50. We are incredulous. We proceed to haggle with an Arab. This is straight out of the Monty Python sketch. We want to give him more!

“Don’t worry my friend, I don’t need the money”. Steve gives him some anyway.

As our trip develops, a theme forms. From time to time, when we need help the most, petrol stations spring from nowhere, roads lead us from being lost to some familiar place, and cool beers appear. We imagine a biker Goddess who looks over us. We trust in her, remain optimistic and have an open mind, she helps without fail! Morocco is a crazy place but it always works out too. How many times have we said that?

We have ridden in Europe many times. It is familiar and safe. Our comfort zones un-threatened, boundaries unchallenged. Try Morocco or some similar place and see what happens. It’s will be worth it. When you feel like bolting back home, try and resist. You will be looked after.

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Tonibe63
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by Tonibe63 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:22 pm

A familiar experience for many on their first trip to Morocco, glad you got to feel it for yourselves.
Open your eyes and you see what is in front of you, open your mind and you see a bigger picture but open your heart and you see a whole new World.

bikenav
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by bikenav » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:42 pm

Fantastic country had a few little adventures there myself, nicely written little tale good enough to forgive the lack of introduction, so Hello and Welcome from soggy Wales.

v8mark
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by v8mark » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:00 pm

Great story

PHILinFRANCE
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by PHILinFRANCE » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:36 am

Thats Morocco 8-)

qcnr
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by qcnr » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:15 am

Awesome little adventure within an adventure. Thanks for sharing 8-)

Richard Simpson Mark II
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by Richard Simpson Mark II » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:28 am

You'll encounter the odd villain in Morocco, but mostly in my experience they are a good deal kinder to strangers than people in the UK.

Their religion means they have a 'duty of care' to travellers.

Their traffic wardens are brilliant. Park by the roadside and a middle-aged man of military bearing with a baseball bat will come up, introduce himself as the street's Guardian and take a small sum of money off you. He then guards your bikes until you come back. If anyone tries to rob them, they get a whack on the head. Good, or what?

The police are also told to look after tourists. Checkpoints are in most towns. In one, having filled in the inevitable form (including mother's maiden name) the policeman led me away, assuring me he would keep an eye on my bike and for my following companions, but I must see 'the cascades'...which were an extraordinary set of rapids on a river in the middle of the desert, and a lovely place to cool my feet.

dibbs
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by dibbs » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:41 am

A wonderful story, thanks. Morocco is on my bucket list, and has been for some years now..

minkyhead
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by minkyhead » Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:25 pm

whacky place isnt it ?

pauls 990 blew off pitse south of merzouga land rover failed repair and a van to algicaris was 1400 euros if i remember

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way back 2010 cliffes suspension links broke sheared the tri link on the swingarm right off ...scrap

loaded on to a passing sand wagon .and 5 hours to quazzeratte ...let the tail down and dug the sand out to get the bike down ....100 quid

life of brian blacksmith charged about twenty quid for the hardtail welding .....got him home


with a very sore ass

braaaaaap


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whats the wether forcast ..wheres me map

WillS
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Re: Breakdown cover in Morocco

Post by WillS » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:03 pm

Great story.
Just love how in Morocco they seem to manage a repair or a get you home solution.
But sometimes you have to haggle..
We managed to get Paul's KTM picked up in Zamora, and taken to Tangier Med Port for a lot less than the quoted 1400€ from memory think it was less than half that..
Always some great stories and adventures in Morocco... Great place for an adventure..

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