Friday, 20 February 2009

Just left Fez

Just left Fez 3 hours late because of Moroccan fears of an international embarrassment should the convoy have an accident or split up out of their control. Too many uniforms spoil the broth. Last night one of the hotel staff was punched by one off our young lads for calling him a dog and insulting his mother, which to a Muslim invokes a law which says you must protect her. In this case that means lumping someone and provoking a mass walk out by hotel staff.

So much of what happens trying to get a simple decision made reminds me of George Orwell's description of the anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. One division is between Pakistanis and Arabs. Another is between the convoy organisers and the Iman led Islamists who want their own Sharia leadership. The funny thing is that John and I coming from Ireland and Wales and both brought up as Catholics are loved by all! I think someone should ring the Pope and tell him we're doing him proud.

Last night some people managed to get into Fez a medieval city but we were too busy sorting out the convoy. Maybe just as well because some people had a lovely meal whilst one Algerian was nugged and badly beaten. Perhaps because of his nationality, maybe because the local hoods know we're carrying a lot of valuable gear. We are entering bandit country and have to stay rigorously close together so we don't get hijacked. The problems come when someone breaks down. We become vulnerable despite police escorts.

The scenery is stunning, azure lakes, green and sand coloured mountains. Every single person from other drivers to school kids to farmers, to workers are waving and giving the peace sign. Their TV stations plus international stations like Press TV have made them aware of the convoy in a way the Europeans failed to do. The response is morale boosting. The people kind and fascinated by this raggle taggle army of ours. It brings tears to everyone's eyes.

We have to stop for prayers at 1pm, preferably at a Mosque so that they can hear a sermon from an Iman as well as pray. Its Friday too so its particularly important. Trying to schedule a convoy around prayers and washing five times a day as well as food, fuel and sleep is enough to have tested Monty! But these guys are very sweet when explaining to ignorant oiks like me why its paramount to them. Steep learning curves zooming off in all directions and not just for John and I. For some of the convoy we are as alien to them as their they are to us, and they are profoundly moved and impressed by our efforts and those of every single person in Ireland and Wales who contributed. Spread the word, give the blog address to everyone on Facebook and keep raising money 60,000 people are homeless in Gaza and believe me its cold at night. You're making history. The border between Morocco and Algeria will be opened tomorrow to let us through. The first time that's happened in 15 years.


  1. Amazing and inspiring. I have become somewhat addicted to following the convoy and in particular you're journey...Stay safe and keep us informed. Much love and best wishes X

  2. Hi Greg, respect and thanks for undertaking this gruelling journey. I hope by the time you get to Gaza Egypt will have decided to let you through!

    Btw your posts are by far the most detailed and minus the political posturing much more interesting and informative, so keep up the good work please. Since I am largely ignorant of Muslim traditions/customs the chance to learn about them with you is very much appreciated (and also about the difficult job to organize such a convoy given the different positions of its members). Will keep you and John in my thoughts. Good luck and safe driving!