a bus on the road

Here’s a story which sounds like zero fun. Hundreds, if not thousands of Brits are stuck at the Moroccan border, hoping to pass through the Spanish enclave into British Gibraltar. On the face, that sounds like what many around the world have experienced as borders close in their face, but this is so different, and so much worse.

“We were waiting with more than 650 other motor homes for three days without access to bathrooms and without news of what will happen to us.”

When news of European border closures broke, hundreds of travelers who were touring Morocco in camper vans or on motorcycle made the tenuous 16 hour drive to Ceuta, in attempt to cross the border into Gibraltar before things closed. They had good reason.

The British embassy in Morocco had informed these tourists in the country that the border would remain open for them to cross, but only for a limited time, so a mad dash ensured. 16 hour drives, no stopping, all for a chance to get out of Morocco in the imminent future.

It turns out the British Embassy in Morocco was wrong, and hundreds of campervans, presumably with thousands of people in them are stuck near Ceuta. Ambassador Thomas Reilly started a rather unpopular Twitter thread, celebrating the “success” of their mission.

Ceuta is a Spanish enclave in Morocco, and is a nearby link to Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. As camper vans piled up to find the border into Spain closed, Morocco quickly roadblocked the roads behind them, leaving these travelers in dangerous limbo.

It wouldn’t be reaching to say it almost felt like a trap. Rushed out of Morocco with the doors closed behind them, barred from crossing a border into Europe on the other side. Morocco has since stated plans to equip the parking lot with electricity and other necessities, though that’s hardly comforting.

a bus on the streetIn fairness to the authorities, advanced warning of the closures was given, and no one should really be traveling right now – but with all messages, there’s always a lag in reaching people – and from the sound of things, people did their best to follow the advice once received.

The sea of camper vans is currently parked near the Tangiers highway, at a facility with just a few shared showers and limited other facilities. Of course, none of these features encourage social distancing in any way, which has many of the travelers worried. I’m shivering, just thinking about it.

Making matters worse, there’s no definitive indication as to when it all might end. The best hope? Morocco has discussed lifting the state of emergency on April 20th, which would mean only 22 more days of living in squalor in between countries, at the very best. Stay at home, people.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. @ Joe it’s ok, buddy, just keep working on your reading comprehension! Looks like you need to start with 1st grade!

    @ Gilbert, thank you for sharing! I’ve been wondering about such situations.

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