We made it to the coast where it is much cooler. The highs are between 75F (24C) and 90F (32C) and the lows are around 65F (18C). The wind fluctuates from a light breeze to 25-30mph (40-48kph). When the wind is 25-30mph it is pretty unpleasant, but the cooler temperatures make it bearable.
Morocco is entering their “deconfinement” stage. We are allowed to travel within our province if permission is obtained. The major cities of Morocco are still mostly locked down as before due to higher infection rates. The land, sea, and air borders of Morocco are still closed. Time will tell when Morocco will open it’s borders. Fingers crossed it’s soon!
Here are some of the things that LeeWhay has found helpful during the lockdown.
The connections we have made
Since we have been in Morocco, we have connected with travelers in person as well as virtually. The community we have found here has been a saving grace. Not only do we share information with each other, but we share a common bond of being stuck in a foreign country, during unusual circumstances, and having to submit to uncertainty. We offer support, laughter, and a shared beverage or meal with each other. We are able to discuss topics that most of our friends and family can not grasp. Even the people who have been lucky enough to repatriate to Europe continue to check in on us on a regular basis.
And then, there are the locals. We have found Moroccans to be extremely kind and generous. They have shared tea, bread, sweets, fish, meat, and fruit with us. Some people live day to day here, and they still offer what they have. Morocco has a very welcoming culture. During our travels, we have observed that most people are “good” human beings. Of course you can encounter a few people who give you a not so fuzzy feeling, but this is the same no matter where in the world you are.
The little things
Having access to a toilet and shower
We haven’t always had access to a toilet and shower during the lockdown. I estimate we have been without facilities for 5+ weeks of the 12+ weeks of the full lockdown. Since we have been at our current location at the coast, I “rented” a toilet / shower from one of the locals. Initially he charged me 50 MAD ($5) per day, but I talked him down after 6 days to 30 MAD ($3) per day. Most of the other people stuck at the coast with us think I’m ridiculous for spending this amount on a bathroom. The bathroom is really nothing special. It has a toilet, a drain in the floor, a hand held shower with cold water, a tap I use to fill water bottles, and a door that mostly locks. For me, it makes our situation that much better. To me, it’s money well spent. And, it also helps out a local.
Mostly reliable cell phone service
Since we have been in Morocco, we have been very impressed with cell phone coverage. We have been connected a vast majority of our time here with the exception of remote Southern Morocco and Western Sahara. This has allowed us to be in contact with friends and family, keep up with world news (which may not be a good thing), work, apply for and interview for jobs, download or stream movies and tv shows, and have access to the internet to take care of our personal business, research topics of interest, and to download podcasts and audio books. All things that help us stay sane and busy during these exceptional times.
Camels, street dogs, cats, and other random animals
Some people have strict self-imposed policies on not touching animals while traveling. You never know what diseases you may contract from the street animals or the parasites, ticks, or fleas they carry. Well, I have a hard time staying away from animals. I do wash my hands an awful lot, but I just can’t help myself. I like to think that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I get the benefits of observing, petting, caring for, and spending time with animals, and they get food, water, tick removal, and a little TLC. Most animals put a smile on my face unless I’m afraid they may eat me. Smiling has been linked to elevated mood, stress reduction, boosted immune system, & lower blood pressure. I believe the many animals we have encountered on this journey have positively affected our lives.
This may sound like an odd thing to make our lives better, but this little item is something we use every day.
- hanging dish or bath towels to dry
- hanging laundry
- securing scarves for shade with the open slider or rear doors
- attaching a privacy barrier for showering on the rear doors
- used as a chip clip
“solvitur ambulando” is a Latin phrase that means “It is solved by walking”
No matter where we have been, walking has helped my frame of mind.Whether it is a walk on the beach, in the desert, or just along the road, it doesn’t matter. Movement is beneficial for our mind and body.
Thankfully we have been in locations during the lockdown where we have been able to walk outside and get some fresh air. We keep a “safe” distance from other people while still acknowledging their existence with a big smile and a wave. We are not alone during this pandemic and it’s nice to maintain our humanity.
For a majority of the lockdown, we have had access to bread. Either the traditional Moroccan bread that is round and flat or baguettes. At the hot spring camp, one of the Swiss campers would bike into the town of Fask and bring back bread for the camp every few days. At Borj Biramane, the owners would pick up fresh bread daily in nearby Fam El Hisn. And now, at the coast, the parking guardian Muhammad brings fresh bread to us daily. The cost of bread depends on where you are and how you procure it. It has ranged from 1-3 MAD or $0.10 – $0.30 USD. For those of you who know us, you probably know that I LOVE bread while Ryan tries his best to limit his carbohydrate intake. Since the lockdown, we have both been enjoying fresh bread with butter or Amlou which is like peanut butter, often made with almonds and or peanuts, argan oil, and honey.
Our morning coffee
Part of our daily routine is our morning cup(s) of coffee. We stocked up on coffee before the lockdown and throughout the lockdown whenever we had access to it. We also stocked up on coffee filters before the lockdown thinking that 80 filters would get us through the lockdown. Well, that was not the case. I was nervously counting our remaining filters as the lockdown was extended and extended again. We were unable to find filters anywhere in the small local shops or even in some of the supermarkets. We use a pour over cone that can be used without a filter, but cleaning it takes a lot of water if we don’t use a filter. Water is precious in the Sahara; every bit we can save is important. Luckily, we were able to find filters as we moved to the coast. Phew, crisis averted!
And a not so little thing
We are here together, going through this as a team. Of course we have our ups and downs, and sometimes I’m surprised we are both still here in our 63 square feet of living space. But, it’s love when you dig a hole for your partner when nature calls. It’s love when you scrub your partners feet because the dryness of the desert is leaving their feet cracked and painful. It’s love when you can snuggle even though you haven’t showered in many days. It’s love when you humor your partner because they are drawn to camels, even though you don’t trust any animal bigger than you. I’m not sure I would have been able to stay so positive during these months if I were alone. I’m grateful Ryan is here and experiencing this with me.
Here is Ryan’s list:
- Cellular Data
- Communications with friends and family
- Media consumption to temporarily distract us from our circumstances
- Researching topics as needed
- Minimal “news” consumption
- Electrical – solar panel repairs, cooling fans, repairing other’s electronics, running 120Vac infrastructure off of 240Vac
- Wood working – step stools, shelves, tie-downs
- Repairs – fridge, solar panels, fans, bed mechanisms, tires, cabinet vents, etc.
- iPhone for communications, podcasts, and audiobooks
- iPad Pro for consuming media and planning routes away from checkpoints
- MacBook Pro for consulting work, researching, learning new skills
- (I sound like an Apple whore which I am not…)
- Shady things – window coverings, Reflectix, awning, wool blanket, scarves, etc.
Some of these things may seem pretty simple to those who live in the first world and have the comforts of their home, but to us, these are the things that are making all the difference!