Post 1 of what I hope to be weekly updates.
Brian seems to think that Morocco should be known for now on as our warm up country. I agree, things have started off a bit more difficult then expected. Don’t get me wrong there have been some ups too. Just not as many as the downs and I’m not speaking of down hills, I would love some more of those!
The main problem is that right now I (Amy) am a bit under the weather. It’s some sort of head/chest cold, that put us out in a bad way yesterday. After about 65km of cycling I just ran out of energy and we were still around 110 km from the nearest town with a hotel. Brian took the initiative and started trying to hitch a ride from out in front of the only gas station (half finished gas station) with in miles, believing that I was not fit to ride on unless properly rested. (And the sun was beginning to go down) In the end we took a ride in a mini bus (with a calf in the back) to a transit hub in a town further north. From there we loaded the bicycles into a van headed to Rabat, about an hour drive by car. Still after all that we cycled around the city in the dark for 2 hours trying to find a hotel. Just like the police, hotels are never around when you need them. And I need some rest days.
So that was last night, It seemed a fitting way to end a week in Morocco.
Camping here is much harder then expected. First off most people build barriers to keep people out not the animals. So you need to ask permission. Which comes to a another hurtle, trying to explain camping to the average Moroccan. Most do not get this concept, we have been turned down more then once and even the police didn’t want us setting up our tent on their property. So much for that?
Wild camping is even worse, there isn’t much for unused land in these parts. (I hear it’s different on the other side of the mountains) Land is either pastures for sheep,goats,and cows or used for agriculture (lots of onions so far). And yes there are people everywhere. We have stopped to cook lunch and each time people come to inspect what we are doing. Sometimes it’s good. During a rain storm we stopped to get out of the rain and cook some food, that ended up supping with a Shepard. He offered his house for shelter over night until the storm passed. Normally we would have taken him up his offer but it was still so early in the day. Instead we traded a tin of Altiods for some farm fresh eggs and he thought us crazy for riding out into the rain. The storm was a small one with little chance of us getting wet so we rode on. Unlike the other day, when we got soaked.
That brings us to day two on out ride out of Marrakesh, we rode in the rain all day thinking that the clouds would pass. There came a point when we couldn’t get any wetter but we could get cold. That rain storm ended up costing us two days in a city called Demnate in the beginning of the High Atlas mountains waiting for it all to pass.
There also have been other times while looking for a camp site we were thwarted by people who just plain didn’t want us there. Not to stop in order to cook dinner and definitely not to sleep. That being said there is still a tremendous amount of hospitality out there. Our first night out of Marrakesh around 85 km outside of the city we started looking for a spot to pitch the tent, when again a man came up to Brian and asked what he was doing. After some hard negotiation he convinced us to go home with him. It all felt a bit sketchy but it turned out to be the best thing that has happened to us thus far. An amazing home stay with a wonderful family and a mother more mothering then my own. She made us tea, cooked a delicious dinner out of almost nothing, introduced us to all her children, and laughed a lot especially at our shear absurdness and the situation. We didn’t share a common language nothing even close but none of that seemed to matter much. It was a wonderful experience, and I cried a little when we had to leave.
So far things have been hard but not with out rewards both on and off the bicycle. Now it’s time for rest in Sale with our Couchsurfing host Said. A lot like home Sale is the twin city a crossed the river from the capital Rabat. Hopefully that is a good sign that I’ll feel more at home and get well quicker. It’s still a long road ahead.
We’ve started out slow but it can only get better!