Friday, 27 December 2013

Day 67 - Dakhla rest day/flying to Casablanca

I woke up probably around 7.30 and decided to go for a walk around the town as the others were still asleep. I headed along the coast for a bit thinking I might find a beach but no such luck (there were just rocks). The town wasn't really very interesting and the best bit was definitely the cycle in yesterday with the massive kitesurfing beaches. After maybe an hour of walking I headed to the nice hotel from yesterday to use their toilet and go on wifi - there weren't many staff around and the ones that were didn't care. The standard Facebook status update and browse of the news feed followed (it was nice to not have a limited time to do this). After maybe half an hour Chris and Tom joined me guessing that I would be here having a wifi session. Tom told me about him having to use the awful smelly 'hole in the floor' toilet at our hotel for his morning dump (the toilet was blocked and it overflowed). They also got on the wifi and I remember Tom trying to finish editing the final desert video 'The Dash to Dakhla' and the accompanying song 'Camels' by Santos playing over and over again. I also remember sending Benji a message (the guy who we met in Nordkapp who was cycling around the world) thanking him for persuading us to take on The Western Sahara. We spent a good 3 hours here (pretty much as long as we could before we had to go back to the hotel and pack ready for our flight which was late afternoon). We packed up (I found a discarded Puma sports bag in the wardrobe in our room which I used as my hand luggage bag). We got to the airport around 1.30 or 2 (knowing that it could take a while to find cardboard, take the bikes apart and box them up). We asked if they had any cardboard at reception. They didn't so me and Tom walked to the kiteboarding shop not far away to get some boxes whilst Chris stayed at the airport with the stuff. The kitesurfing shop was really nice and I would have definitely bought at least a t-shirt if I'd had any Dirhams left. Unfortunately they didn't have any boxes - the owner said our best bet would be to go to TV/appliance shops near the market. This was a bit of a walk away but was the only option - we were told that we would be able to get a taxi from the market to the airport for 5 Dirhams so it wasn't too bad. Me and Tom then spent an hour or so looking in several shops collecting enough cardboard to box up the 3 bikes. We then set to work flat-packing all the boxes before flagging a taxi over (the first taxi was a similar size to a Ford Fiesta which was too small so we had to wait for a bigger one more like an Escort). With some help from the driver we squeezed our mass of cardboard into the boot and off we went back to the airport. Unpacking was a bit tricky with a strong wind. We then set to work boxing Chris's bike up. My packaging tape that I was given in Casablanca was rubbish so had to rely on some tape given to us by the guys at check-in to tape the boxes around the bike. The whole process was made twice as hard with the strong wind and we weren't allowed to pack them up inside the small clean airport. After Chris's bike was done the check in/baggage guys came out and helped with me and Tom's bikes (Chris didn't do the best job of boxing his bike flatly). Eventually the bikes were all adequately boxed and we were done as check in was in full flow. Thankfully we didn't have to pay any extra for the bikes. We went through to the departure lounge which like the check in/reception area was small and it was clear that the airport only did one flight at a time. The wait wasn't too long before we were led out towards the plane. One guy who helped us box up the bikes and checked them in was now loading them onto the plane - Chris joked that he would probably be the pilot too. The plane was nice considering how cheap our tickets were. There were no problems and the plane took off on time. The highlight of the flight was undoubtedly an unexpected free meal we got - it wasn't big but we were hungry with our food rations and this helped. We also played '20 questions' which is a game where you think of a famous person and the other person/people have to guess who it is - this was fun and helped pass the time. We landed in Casablanca and went to collect the bikes. Our slaggy boxing attempts had failed and the taped together cardboard was on the verge of falling apart. We carefully put the boxes on some trolleys and made our way to a cafe. It was pretty busy but we found a table, left the trolleys by the side and got out the chocolate spread and bread from my bag for a food session. There was no wifi. Next on the agenda was to find somewhere to sleep. I left the stuff with Chris and Tom and had a wander around. The airport was fairly big and I located a quiet corner away from the busy areas easily enough. We went to my quiet corner after the cafe and set up camp getting the roll mats and sleeping bags out, used the boxed up bikes as a barrier to help hide us from view. We looked like tramps. Anyway we then went to the toilets to clean our teeth before going to sleep.

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