Campers leave Morocco as Covid-19 arrives
After the border of Spain and Morocco initially closed last week due to the Coronavirus outbreak in Europe, advanture travellers Joren and Emma felt safe being on the southern side of the lockdown. But soon they would make the decision, along with hundreds of others, that now isn’t the time for a vacation. It was time for campers to leave Morocco due to Covid-19.
Since June 2019, the couple from Holland had been living in their campervan full time, initially while still working as teachers. But the dream of an endless summer felt strong, so they quit their jobs intending to travel through Europe and further south to Morocco in October.
“It was January when we arrived in Morocco, and it felt awesome! The country, the landscape, the people and all the possibilities to park and camp is something we haven’t experienced before.
Over the two months, we travelled Morocco we have made a tour across the country which involved camping between the wild monkeys in -4 degrees at night with snow, watching the sun go down in the Sahara Desert, kitesurfing ice-cold lakes, endless empty beaches and so much more!”
When news arrived that the border had closed, many European countries started to call back its citizens. While the outbreak of the virus was claiming the lives of many around the globe, it was the unnecessary additional pressure on the hospitals and supply chains which needed to be reduced by the general public.
“In Morocco, it was like the virus didn’t exist. Nobody seemed to know how bad it was. For us, we were just overcoming the most dangerous road we ever took, trying not to slip and crash our van hundreds of meters down a mountain.”
We have to admit, the team here at Advanture Magazine (currently on a 4-week lockdown in Barcelona) were a little jealous of those who were finding their place of self-isolation on the next continent!
“Then it happened … The first case of a person having the virus in Casablanca. We were still thinking this would not affect Morocco as much. But our concerns were that the healthcare might not be as good as in Europe, and a few cases later the government prepared the country for strict restrictions.
All around us, campers were making up their mind if they would stay or leave the country. We parked on a beach just 15 minutes from Taghazout with almost no other campers around. A guard was living in a small town nearby. He was really friendly and provided us with fresh water if we needed, gave us fresh bread and even complete meals! We felt we could stay on the beach for a long time. We could wait this whole virus thing out. We could surf all day for a few weeks and get our food from the local grocery shop and not worry about anything right?”
Soon after, Morocco announced they too would go into lockdown just like many of the European countries had already done so. Campsites were closing and tourists started to leave the country as fast as they could. Reports of travellers starting to receive angry looks from the locals reached Joren and Emma, although they had not witnessed it. The only country for the majority of campers to flee to was Spain, where campsites had already been closed and park4night spots cleared out.
“For us, we decided that the only country that would be safe for us to continue living in the van would be back home in Holland. Meanwhile, some German friends had joined us on the beach. They were also in doubt what to do, but decided to stay in Morocco.
We started to hear that some locals were blaming Europeans for bringing the virus to Morocco. Also, we don’t know what would happen to us if either of us were to fall ill. That was the turning point for us to make a run for it. We thought it was time for campers to leave Morocco because of Covid-19.
Before dawn, we woke up and started our journey back to Europe. A long 12-hour drive ahead to Ceuta, since that was the only place where a ferry was going back to Algeciras. It was crazy to see all those empty streets. People were even turning away from us as we drove by and it was a really weird feeling.”
The return tickets that the couple had were for a boat that had already been suspended. But they were not the only ones. Upon buying new tickets they joined the crowd of hundreds of other vans, camper and mobile homes all wanting to get safely back home. *Update of information: “We bought new tickets in Tanger Med and drove further to Ceuta.”
“At first we thought we could get on the ferry from 16:00, but no luck. It was full. So like everyone else, we tried to get some rest, eat some food and wait calmly. Finally, we got on a ferry around 21:00 to set sail to Spain! Yeahh Holland here we come!
As we arrive we still have 2400km to go, but not with any deadlines so it seems. The borders are open for people to drive home, as long as you don’t stop and camp on the highway. It will be a long exhausting trip, but we think this is the best decision.”
But this does not mark the end to their advanture. Dutch vanlife will be the plan for the coming weeks, and who wouldn’t be happy with that? Spring is on the way and soon we’ll all be able to enjoy normality once again. In the meantime, stay parked up and let us know how you are soaking up a bit of self-isolation, vanlife style. AM