Closed for restoration

Once again I have been thwarted by the unexpected news that something is “closed for restoration” – or as one notice put it “closed for restitution”.

In Fès it was the highly reputed museum that was closed. Here again it is the museum, plus the 18th century Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. These were today’s projects, so very frustrating. I’m so glad that the restoration work is going ahead, I wonder if there is more Unesco funding going on. Merieme explained that the conditions of such funding often meant not just restoring the objects but providing proper facilities for visitors.

I found myself at a loose end, so decided to rest after yesterday, bring my blog up to date (internet problems do not help and I imagine they will get worse as I leave Fes and Meknes). I’m sitting in a peaceful corner of the empty entertainment floor – bizarrely ornate with multiple sofas and not a surface left free of tiling or decoration. I can only imagine that it is used out of season for local events.

Car hire saga

I have also spent – yet more – time trying to resolve the car hire problem, which has done nothing for my blood pressure. My friend, Dan, is coming out for just a few days, and we decided some time ago to spend three days exploring the countryside in the Middle Atlas mountain area, going first East towards a national park near Taza, and then south, to the lakes near Sefrou.

The advice I got was to stick with the known international companies for car hire. I chose Europcar because my friend, Roy, has good experiences with them and just to ensure there was not a problem about my age (76) I emailed in September for confirmation. I was told there was no age limit in Morocco, and on that basis Dan and I agreed I would hire the car and add him as a second driver.

Once I got to Fès this is what I tried to do – except now I was told there was an age limit of 75 in Morocco! I wrote back to the manager of short term car hire in Morocco and finally got a reply on Monday: “indeed, there is no age limit, but our delivery agent remains the only witness who can judge your situation because at the time of delivery if he notices that you are unable to drive, he will not deliver the vehicle.”

OK, I thought, I must remember to stride with confidence towards the ‘delivery agent’ (with stick packed away). So I tried again to book. And got blocked! I complained again and got the reply that I required letters or equivalent from my doctor and insurance company confirming I was medically fit to drive and had had not recent accidents.

If I had been told this in September I could have got them! As it was I switched to Plan B (delayed several hours by the Europcar site crashing…). This was to make Dan the sole driver. More hiccups while I had to clear my browser of cookies and history (the Europcar site was convinced that I was still wanting to be the driver). Only to reach the final, insurmountable problem: only the driver can pay and I cant book a reservation for him in advance (or pay for him). Dan is by now out of contact, so when he arrives at the airport we will probably have to pay the full rate rather than the half-rate for online bookings.

Now I must go out and have a walk to calm down!

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