A guitar is all it took to set us on an intense, terrifying and most humbling travel experience I have been through.
We left the Fes medina mid-day to roam and explore the nouville, French for the new city part of Fes. Our bus was not departing till 9 at night so we had time to chill out in the city center. While the others went to re-up on some supplies, I stayed to watch the bags. A few kids came on bikes and I filmed them with my gopro. We quickly made friends despite the language barrier. They were eager to share their tricks for the camera. I gave them some graffiti stickers and share facebook information. Facebook, Everyone in Morocco has it.
A few mint teas, coffees and getting lost, we found ourselves at the CTM bus station.. There was a German trio playing a guitar, where Thanecha immediately took to join. New friends were instantly made by the love for music, but we never knew how good of friends they would soon become. We had a nine hour, overnight bus ride to Rissani, a stop over to Merzouga, where the Sahara meets Morocco.
After a long, sleepless and sometimes painful 9 hours, we arrived in Rissani, at 6am, before the sun broke the horizon. A man named Mohammed approached us and asked if we wanted some food and drink at his cafe, which he claimed was open, warm and just down the street. It sounded good to us as the Germans joined us. Immediately, this man gave some negative vibes, one of those gut feelings you get when you know something is not right.
His cafe, Panorama Cafe, was not open or even his and took 10 minutes for someone to unlock it. I called him out on it, and he was quick to be on defense. "Why would I lie to you, my friend?" I dismissed him as we entered with the Germans.
One of the German girl's boyfriend was coming from Merzouga to come get them, so they hung out with us until then. Mohammed's odd demeanor continued, as he pushed his services on me. I repeatedly said I had an excursion booked and I did not need his assistance in getting to Merzouga. All I or anyone of my group was interested was some tea and coffee. He persisted and was desperate, showing me pictures and videos of his resort and 4x4. He exclaimed that the boyfriend coming to pick them up was total BS because it took jobs away. He mumbled on in Arabic as we figured him out. He knew we figured him out and called his friends to come to his rescue.
He offered all sorts of BS answers to our questions, and would shout Africa! or USA USA! AMERICA!!! when he didnt know what to say. He eventually brought out tea for all of us, when Ryan said, I am not drinking anything this man gives us. Apparently Mohammed touched a member of our group inappropriately up on the roof terrace moments before. When the tea came out, he switched Thanechas cup with another. It was deliberate and we saw it. Something is going on and not in a good way. His desperation continues as we fight off his advances.
Finally having enough, we all left to wait with the Germans outside, as their ride was near by. We walked down the road back towards the bus stop, where he gets in his 4x4 chases us, threatening to call the police if we catch a ride with the Germans. We had no intentions to catch a ride with them, it was just an alibi. Just then, a big blue caravan appears around the corner, to the jumping Germans delight and Mohammed's despair. By now he was yelling at us to take his offer, yet we continue to thank him and refuse while walking away. He calls his friend to come help him not let this caravan get away by boxing it in, one car in the front and Mohammed in the back. We attempted to block his efforts to block the caravan by standing in front of his car, almost running over Ryan and Thanecha in the process. He was literally pressing the gas with two people in front of him. He threatened to call the police on us and the Germans if we got in. Tempers were high as shouting matches began, in the middle of town. What the fuck is going on?
The Germans get in drove off leaving us trying to find a taxi, which apparently can only be found in front of his cafe. There is no way that was going to happen. We continue to walk in the opposite direction, repeatedly getting out of his car, claiming he is sorry and asks for forgiveness. By now, everyone in our group is just as hostile, all shouting at him to just leave us alone. I remained calm, thanked him and explained that there was no way we would be accepting any services from him. We walked down another street as far away as possible, cooling our tempers in the process. Did we just screw ourselves? He is probably in cahoots with every cab here, how are we getting to Merzouga?
About a kilometer down the road, around the bend and out of sight of his cafe, the blue caravan appears. The Germans! They circled back around town unbeknownst to everyone in town, including ourselves. They quickly turned the caravan around and tell us to get in, and make it quick!
We frantically pile in, lay on the floor in a small space, and drove away. These people were searching for us and came to our rescue. I can't thank them enough.
We escaped to Merzouga and was greeted with massive sand dunes as soon as we stepped out from the big blue steed. We met our guide Hassan, and we knew we were in good hands. We told him our story and he knew exactly who we were talking about. Hassan told us how Mohammed has a bad rep and had to rescue people from his resort, 14 km outside of town.
So, if you find yourself in Rissani, and a round man named Mohammed from Panorama Cafe asks you if you need help. Tell him to (pardon my French) fuck off. Fuck that dude and his shitty cafe.
Now it's time to go spend 2 nights in the desert! Au revoir! Merry Christmas