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Morocco

A day in the life at Hassan’s Garage

As we are leaving Hassan’s wonderful garage we thought we would give you a glimpse into our day for the last several weeks.


The day begins at 5 am here with the call to prayer bellowing from the mosque only a hundred metres away. I know the thought “hey cool. Praying at 5am. I might do it too.” It has crossed my mind. But, FIVE OCLOCK comes SOOOO EARLY!
6 oclock is when the cement brickmakers next door start working. They use a machine, that sounds like a jackhammer, and emits bricks out the other end when the right ingredients are shovelled in the other end. If this doesnt wake you the flies do.
Hassan and his men arrive between 7 and 8. There are normally at least 6 vans and horseboxes and trucks to work on. The men from these vehicles increase the workforce by another 6 or so.
Hassan is a gentle berber man with a ready smile, creativity, diligence and honesty. His men are the same. We found Hassan through other travellers and he has a great reputation. They do not have as many fancy tools and expensive paint. Many times they weld with sunglasses instead of a proper shield and the paint isnt cut to be super shiny after painting but…. they are fast and efficient. I think it might be because they are used to keeping old things going instead of throwing them away. They have found the oil leak caused by the French mechanics. They have fixed the step that the Scottish welders said couldn’t be done. They have made numerous old vehicles new, including ours, with meticulous attention to detail to bodywork and paint.

The oil leak was fixed in true Hassan fashion. Andrew opened up the hood and showed Hassan where the oil was leaking on the inside of the bonnet/hood. Hassan put Andrew to work by showing him where to start looking. Andrew found the leak. He thinks the french mechanics forgot to put sealant around the valves when they fixed the engine. Hassan concurs and gives Andrew some sealant to do the repairs.


Jose has been our main guy working on the truck. Referring to Hassan when he gets a job too difficult. As Jose and Andrew are getting the cab ready for painting, Jose finds out the passenger door doesnt open from the outside. This has been a real problem at times as it is the only door that is not in the traffic if we park up on the side of the road for the night. Jose thinks nothing of it and fixes it right away. Andrew goes to show Jose the step that the Scottish said couldn’t be fixed. Done already. I think Andrew likes going back and forth between computer and boiler suit. He takes his laptop down to the hotel with wifi and does some email and intellectual work. He comes back here, puts his laptop bag on the hook and puts on his boiler suit. The extremes of it all. Once again he comments that he likes that he is just another working man when he has on his boiler suit. He is one of them. It is funny how that happens. The power of the boiler suit. It is a communal working experience here. Everybody helping each other out.

Sometimes other workmen come in from other business to help out. Hassan introduced us to some men from across the street to do the canvas bit of our work.
As for me and the kids. I think I have become my mother. After homeschooling I clean up as much as I can after all the workers and the kids help me or Andrew or hang with the other kids and army of dogs and sheep.

There are other calls to prayer during the day but people just keep working, hardly noticing.

During the day we sometimes go out onto the street and get avocado juice, fresh squeezed orange juice or pistachio yogurt. We would normally go out for an ice lolly but they are probably made with unboiled water which rules them out.

The workday ends at dark – around 7 pm. We have dinner. Sometimes we cook and sometimes we go out for harira (spicy bean soup) bisara (pea soup) or Andrew’s favourite. His favourite is, what he calls, Moroccan fast food. A man with a small silver cart who emerges on the sidewalk surrounded with local moroccan men. He makes a different kind of meatball (kefta) or kebab sandwich each day and puts it in some bread with some sauce and onions. With either of these meals we can feed the whole family for about 12 – 15 mad or a little more than a euro. The price makes it even more of a favourite for Andrew. We have gone out for tajine a few times but this is less often than we thought we would. It is difficult to cook here in the mechanics yard. We also suspect that it we dont save any money cooking for ourselves.

We do have electricity and we sometimes use this to watch a movie but we normally dont. We talk, read, play a game, do a blog entry on the computer and go to sleep early to the sound of music and barking dogs. The barking dogs give way to the roosters before the 5 o’clock call to prayer and another day begins.

As we are leaving we got our bill 6000 mad and a bicycle which translates to less than 600 euros. This is what we got done – rebuilt exhaust, raise the roof, rust removed and cab painted, black underside repainted, new hinges on box, collapsible roof rack, 13 small jobs. A pretty good deal. And we got to camp out with some very interesting people.