20th Feb 2009 - 21st Feb 2009
Day 5-6 Tarifa - Tangier - Fez - Oujah
Day 5 - The convoy reached the port of Tarifa (southern Spain) around 4 o’clock in the morning, which gave us a couple of hours of rest before the boarding the ferry. Then the convoy was separated to two groups (because the ferry was not big enough to take all the convoy vehicles in).
Our group (group 10) was on the first ferry to Tangier, and after arriving to Tangier the convoy was greeted by the press and the Moroccan Government officials who welcomed us into their country and promised full cooperation, assistance and a 5 star Arab hospitality.
Once convoy members got off their vehicles, the Tangier port police and security started approaching individuals to look at the convoy map printed at the back of the T-Shirt. Then as the convoy vehicles pulled out of customs the police started asking people to hand over their convoy shirts. It turns out that the T-shirts were printed using a western source of mapping which showed the Moroccan (south western) dessert belonging to Mauritania – this is a topic which has seen a long dispute between the Moroccans and Mauritanians. The T-shirts were then handed to the, Moroccan authority.
After the T_shirt fiasco, the convoy then took to the street of Tangier heading to the local shooting range club (who have organised a full course meal for the entire convoy). As soon as we got on the streets in Tangier – We were immediately welcomed by a crowed of people on the streets, waving hellos and chanting Freedom to Palestine, God is the greatest, and long live Gaza.
When I saw hundreds (if not thousands) of people expressing their support to their brothers and sisters in Gaza, at that moment my heart confirmed what my mind already knew, that is whether governments agree or disagree, and whether political officials make a stance or not, the people’s hearts and minds are all in support of the Palestinian cause. And that Freedom to Palestine is no longer an Islamic or Arabic issue – its now an issue of right or wrong between justice and injustice, weather you are a Muslim, Jew, Christian or any other religion, faith or background.
The convoy arrived to the shooting range club around lunch time and we were greeted by a traditional Moroccan musical band. Having had lunch and a couple of speeches by the local government officials and Viva Palestina organisers, the convoy then headed (250Km) towards Sidi Harazeem near Fez to stay at the local Hotel.
Due to lack of sleeps and exhaustion by all rivers, the convoy decided to stay over at Sidi Harazeem hotel for 1 extra night to give everyone a break and gives some time also for any car repairs (and oh my god they were a few)
Here’s some of the car problems we had on the convoy:
1, Tyre bursts – our group had 2 tyre bursts when going at 50mph!!! later discovered that the tracking on one of the LDV vans was out, and that was causing the inside of the tyre to wear out very quickly
2, Starter motor failure
3, Gear box Failure (ambulances)
4, Headlight Failures
5, General electrical problems – many associated with people using a lot of 12V devices to charge their phones, laptops, cameras, kettles !!!
On the morning of the 20th of Feb (7:30am) everyone was up, and in their cars ready to go to “Oujah” – which is the Algerian boarder.
This boarder by the way, has been closed for 15 years, and both the Moroccan and Algerian governments have made an special exception for the Gaza Aid Convoy to open the boarder and setup a temp entry / immigration / customs office.
Half way between Fez and the Algerian boarder we stopped in a town called Gurcef, at a house that belonged to the leader of one the Moroccan Arabic nationalist and Islamic parties. Every one greeted us with chants, and appraise to the cause and aim of the convoy. They had slaughtered 22 sheep for us that day and the food (in all shapes and sizes) kept coming!!
We are now (8:36am Moroccan time +/-0:00GMT) 6Km away from the Algerian boarder. The locals have arranged hotels and rooms for every one, so we all stayed here for the night – after the 3 course dinner ofcourse.
Ps: our honda civc has been foing a great job - no complaints so far apart from a change of head light and the occasional battery jump. We have coverd about 2500 miles and we are half way there.
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