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Datum: 7-01-2017    Salť and Rabat, Marocco Part 2
 It took a while, but here is another blog. We have been in Morocco for almost two months now and went through quite a lot.
In this blog some more practical info, useful for other sailors.

Cell phone and internet
In each new country we try to buy a simcard for the internet, preferably 4G. We think that “Maroc Telecom” is the best choice. Looked for a shop in Rabat and bought a simcard – with some difficulty, because we don’t master the French language and they hardly speak any English. Even with the help of Google translate it is a tricky business. But in the end, we did it again. At 15 DH (Dirham) a piece we buy the card. Unfortunately it contains very little MB, so we have to buy upgrade cards pretty soon. These upgrade cards are 50 DH for 5GB and for sale in every shop of Maroc Telecom. With tramway/streetcar 1 to Salé Station (‘gare de Salé’) or at the shopping mall “Marjane” (get off at terminus ‘Hay Karima’).

(Public) Transport
You can choose here between tram, taxi, bus or renting a car.
Very cheap, only 6 DH (€ 0,60) per ride. When you are staying longer in Rabat/Salé it pays to buy a monthly pass, this will cost you 250 DH (€ 25,00). But before you know where to buy such a pass, you can easily spend a whole day. Take tram 1 to Rabat, step off at “Place al Joulane” and walk to the office of “Tram-Way” in the rue Mohamed Errifai (Later, it turned out that there is also an office at the station, the ‘Gare de Salé’)
We have to fill in forms, show our passports and hand in passport photographs. Surprise! We don’t have those! So take some good advice and have some extra photos in stock for these kind of occasions. So we look for a photoshop. Luckily we find someone outside who speaks English and takes us to a shop. Downstairs, in a large mouldy cellar, with clothe and several pictures on the walls, the snapshots are made. Shortly afterwards, we both have a set of 8 photographs for 60 DH (€ 6,00). Back at the tramway office we got our monthly passes after a 15-minute wait. All we could recognise were our names… Now we can travel a whole month, unlimited, with the tram. The tramline is under 5 years old and still looks brand new. It is clean and no graffiti in sight! Apart from the chauffeur, there is always at least one controller on board, who controls frequently. The people are very polite in the tram; they give place to the disabled, mothers or elderly people. If not, no fear, the controller will point it out to you. Regularly, they also get up for us, when we both have a heavy filled backpack, f.i. when we have been to the supermarket. We only witnessed one incident once in the tram. A quarrel occurred, with a lot of yelling and some blows. But all in all it is a good way to go around. The way it goes here, we Dutch can take this as exemplary. When you master the French language, you can find more information on: Tramlines and stops are to be found on:
There are taxis in abundance here and they come in different shades. It took us some puzzling, but we found out the system.
White taxis can drive anywhere and are to be found in certain spots. A little man takes care the taxis are filled up. Particularly the ugly bad looking taxis are completely stuffed with up to 6 passengers and their luggage, before taking off. You pay an agreed amount of money at the beginning of the ride. When you want the taxi all to yourself, you have to pay for the empty seats and thus you pay more.
Yellow taxis can only drive in Salé and are not allowed over the bridge to Rabat. Check if the meter is switched on at departure and keep an eye on it during the drive. Even so it is important to know where you are going and get an estimate of the price from the driver. Is this too much money, you can negotiate or else you get off and try the next one.
Blue taxis can only drive in Rabat and are the same as the yellow ones.
What to watch? That the meter is always on. Be clear about the money you have to pay in advance. Try to keep an eye on the route he is taking, some of them will try to make a detour.
We did not venture in to the busses; they all look so bad and unreliable. Most of them are full of dents and holes, doors don’t close well and they drive around with the windows smashed in. Sometimes there aren’t even any windows!
Car rental
A story in itself, later on more about this.

From the blogs of other sailors, we gathered that there would not be a supermarket in the neighbourhood and not a lot to buy anyway.  Our experience is different.
You can get fresh bread, very good fruits and vegetables etc.  close to the Medina. Furthermore there is a “Carrefour” supermarket in Salé.  For this you take a yellow cab, about 20 DH (€ 2,00). On the way back you might be paying a little bit more, 23 DH (€ 2,30) because of the bags in the trunk. Because we are in an Islamite country, where they don’t drink alcohol, you cannot just buy this in a supermarket. Liquor stores are not to be found. But apparently there is more drinking going on as is lead to believe. On the outside of the Carrefour, reasonably hidden, there is a separate entrance, which leads through some sort of labyrinth to a stockroom. Here you can get any liquor you like. We already thought: “what a busy spot over there in the corner of the parking lot!” Now we know why!
There is the shopping mall “Marjane”, with a really big supermarket. For this you take tramline 1 to the terminus ‘Hay Karima’. Here you can get everything in food or non-food. What is very special is that there is a small space next to the market, set up as a praying space, for people to quietly say their prayers.
There is also a “Carrefour” in Rabat. This one is much smaller, but then you go there and back again with tramline 2; get off at the stop ‘Bab el Had’. On the corner there is a nice restaurant where you can have a delicious tea and have a bite. We have been here several times and by now get recognised.
There is also a ‘super shopping mall’ in Rabat. At the terminus of tramline 2 you take a taxi. Here you will find the shops with luxury goods and the corresponding European prices. We didn’t find it worth the trouble and a waste of time. When we took the taxi back from the shopping mall to the tram, there was already a passenger inside. We drove along the tramline and got off the taxi, together with the other passenger. We had to pay double the price; we refused and paid the price on the meter. A little yelling form the driver, but that didn’t bother us. Because we are foreigners, he thought he could swindle us, but he picked the wrong ones!

Health care
Because of my diabetes (fortunately type 2) it is wise that I have a somewhat more elaborate blood check once a year. My blood pressure I can measure myself and in case of emergency also my sugar level. Furthermore I want to have a doctor examine my back in connection with the hernia they diagnosed in Portugal. We also both want a booster vaccination against rabies, so that this won’t be necessary for the 5 years to come. So we went to look for a decent hospital or private clinic.
In Salé and Rabat are a number of hospitals and clinics, but for a foreigner it is hard to determine which ones are good enough. With the help of internet we find out that the best we can do is to go to one of the richer quarters of Rabat. In the quarter of ‘Agdal’ are two clinics of which we hope they will be suitable. I write both clinics an e-mail (in English) with the request for a medical check-up. I never had any answer from both. We choose the Clinique Agdal and decide to go there at random. On arrival the outside looks reasonably well, but on entering we see many many notice boards with illegible letter signs and we really have to look where there is a desk where we can drop our question. We try to make it clear to the lady behind the counter that we want to see a doctor. The conversation is difficult, so we doubt if she really understands. We hear that it is a public holiday and that we have to call a number in two days to make an appointment. She scribbles the number on a torn-off piece of paper and hands it to us. So, that’s it. It works quite differently from what we are used to in Holland. For the booster vaccination we have to go to the ‘institut national d’hygiène’. But the lady behind the counter has no address to give to us, we have to sort it out for ourselves!

Outside the clinic we see a laboratory and again enter here at random. Pfff…luckily this lady speaks English and understands that I want a urine-and blood check to monitor my diabetes. Fortunately I know myself what has to be checked and with the help of internet I translated the medical terms into French and hand over the list. We make an appointment for the next day to hand in my urine and have my blood tapped. The next morning we come back and are well assisted. Everything is carefully provided with my name and that same afternoon we can get the results. Now, that’s fast! It is paying cash on the nail, but the bill is for my insurance to worry about. The results I send to my nurse in Holland for checking. Happily everything is o.k.

Now if I would just be able to find a doctor to check on my back. But considering our experience with the desk-lady at the clinic, my confidence in the hospital has fallen. In theory my back is getting much better, I have to take care of course, but I can move around. Let’s just wait and see!

Only thing is the booster for the rabies. On the net we find the address of the ‘institut national d’hygiène’ and go there by tram. They are closed….again because of a holiday! After another attempt it turns out we have to go somewhere else, the ‘bureau municipal d’hygiène de Rabat’, an office close to the Medina. But – again – the man has no address, just a vague direction that it is in the quarter ‘Bab Lhad’. Luck is not on our side! There we go again, walking back to the tram on the way to the Medina. After some looking around for it, we find a sign over a gate in the wall of the Medina. Fred and I look at each other with a knowing glance….. if this is it, we doubt if we should get our vaccination here!

We go through the gate and a little man on a chair directs us to a mini-office somewhere in the rather derelict building. There we find two ladies, happily chatting away behind an old desk and on the cupboard a tray with some syringes in it. ‘Hygiene’ is NOT the first thing that springs to mind… We show our medical passport and with the help of the app of Google translate we try to tell them what our intentions are. They do understand, but according to the women and our medical passport the vaccination can’t be given before January 2017. Thank god, we think, because we really are not going to take it here! Next time we will certainly bring our own syringes, that will be much safer! With a friendly smile we leave the office. Too bad, no booster, we will have to get a vaccination more often instead in 5 years.

Sending package
We want to send Ingrid (Fred’s sister) a package for her birthday. We wrapped it up nicely, wrapped up the box in old sea maps, address on it: done! On the way to the post office. When we arrive there, we are immediately put apart, we have to fill in a form and the package has to be opened, the man tell us. A moment later, the customs man joins him and takes over the package. He is a bit cranky ( as I would be if I had to tell the same story every day over and over again) and starts to open the parcel rather brutal.
I am more and more consumed by vexation and try to explain to him that these are presents (tins with fish and nice wrappings) and that part of the content is rather ‘fragile’. But everything has to get out of the box and even the packing of the presents is opened. Every parcel is looked at from all sides and shaken. As if we are I don’t know what kind of drugs sending to the Netherlands! At last everything is put back into the box which is taped with meters and meters of customs tape from top to bottom. All this has one advantage: Ingrid gets a very special packagel!

Receiving letters en packages
We will stay in Salé for some time and so it is a good opportunity to receive some post and packages. We give the address of the marina to family and friends. Also, we order some parts for the boat in the Netherlands and Ingrid will take care of the redirection of everything. After days of waiting at last bit by bit letters start to come in. Except for the fact that they take very long, no problem. But the packages! This of course does not go without a fight!

The first package (from a very dear friend)
We receive at the marina a letter from the post office that a package has arrived, which we have to pick up at the post office in Salé. At that precise moment, we did not yet know where to find this office, but one of the marina-crew offers to take us there by car. Very nice! And fortunate, for we would not have been able to find it easily. We have to go past a gate on the left side of the post office. This is the area where all the foreign packages come to customs. We give the man behind the desk the form and our passports and he goes to look for our parcel. A little later he comes back and I can take a seat at a table, while he opens the package carefully and examines the content. I explain him in my best French that these are Christmas presents. O.k., no problem! The customs man scribbles something on the form, puts everything back into the box and tapes it with care. Next, he hands the package and the form over to the mailman, who is only 5 meters away from him at the desk. Now we have to stand in line to receive the package from this man. Again we have to show our passports, again there is a lot of scribbling on the form and at last we can receive the package. At that moment, Fred gets a brainwave and asks if there might be some more packages for us. The mailman says he thought so and Lo and behold! Another package! Saves us a ride, is what we think at that moment.
The second package
Back seated at the table, package unwrapped, content is examined. This was one that was sent by Ingrid and it contains, next to stroopwaffles and bags with liquorice, the parts we ordered to be able to refill our gas bottles with foreign bottles. With some difficulty we can explain what they are for. On the box it states the value (insurance value). Box get taped again, scribble scribble on the backside of the form and off it goes to…. The mailman!
Back to the desk….*SIGH* … show our passports (and it is the same guy from 5 minutes ago) and again he writes bits and bobs on the form. On the backside of the form there is an amount written down and would we be so kind as to pay 404 DH (€40, 00)!! So customs man thinks we have to pay import dues for this package! We look at him in amazement and ask why? This parcel is in transit, in other words it comes from Holland and goes straight to a Dutch boat and therefore there is no matter of import dues! The man doesn’t understand or rather doesn’t want to understand. Now a discussion unfolds between the mailman, the customs man, the man from the marina crew and us. Above all, we are not going to pay! We also ask why they didn’t send the package to the marina customs, but we get no answer. We have to prove we are here by boat, show our papers etc. So now someone from the Marina customs has to come over to the post office! By now we are an hour further in the day and our driver gets more and more impatient, but stays friendly. We have to come back and leave the package behind!
Back at the Marina at once to the customs, our driver explains what the matter is and tells us that someone from customs will go with us that afternoon. We have to take our boat-papers with us and the form that proves we have clearance. We are very happy to have someone with us, because at arriving at the post office they still make trouble. Some yelling to and fro, but our marina customs man is not to be run over. He takes a clear stand: no import dues for packages in transit. Finally, the customs man from the post office gives in and we can get the package at the desk. Where we have to show our passports for the umpteenth time, to still the same man. GRRRR!
To crown it all, the mailman tells us dead pan that we still have to pay 404 DH + 14,40 DH (€ 43,00)! Is this man crazy or what…?? Our customs man now is ready to burst. The customs man from the post office walks over to the desk and crosses the amount and then, finally, we can take our package!

This is something our customs man had not yet experienced and he tells us the regulations are quite clear. This reeks of corruption, just earning some extra money from ignorant foreigners. If there is to be any more trouble from the post office, just warn him immediately. We thank him for his very friendly help. All in all it has taken us a few hours. And we thought bureaucracy in Holland was bad! The remainder of the packages is delivered without any problems. The parcel with my medication is examined extra special, but after I show them the medical certificate, I can take it home without any further costs. They even recognise us by now and greet us friendly, well,.. kind of! The Marina Customs man worked out fine.

We are very glad with all the practical, nice, tasty but most of all lovely parcels you sent to us. I am very glad with the beautiful self-made painting of my granddaughter Bobby. This gets a place of honour in the boat.
Thanks to everyone who contributed!
13-01-2017, reactie van Karin, White pearl
Het duurt nog een jaartje of twee voor we er zijn, maar je hebt ons alvast voorzien van hele praktische informatie. Wondere wereld. Gelukkig waren we vaker in het Arabische wereldje en herkennen veel van de gang van zaken. Geduld is een schone zaak!

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