That’s really only one word to say about the last few days, both in Morocco and now for our first day in Spain. Wind!
The trip out of Rabat was faster then expected, we averaged 80 km per day for 3 days and got to Tangier a full day quicker then we had hoped. 2 of those 3 days where cycling straight into a head wind almost the entire way. Good thing we are not in much of a hurry, after all this is a bicycle trip. But the more kms pedaled the better.
So you think the little roads are safer in Morocco? We found that not to be the case in a huge Northern section of Morocco, stretching from near Rabat to Tangier. Instead we opted for the A1 Express Route, which sounds less scenic but really is quite beautiful (at least the part from Larache to Tangier) and has a paved 2 meter wide shoulder. This became our option after taking the N1 (or National Highway) which shadows the Expressway for vast sections. Both the N1 and A1 provide much more direct routes then some of the even smaller roads. Which can be just as busy if not more so then the Expressway, partly paved, (sometimes not at all in the kilometers close to and around villages), and strangely full of very aggressive children. Aggressive enough that I felt uncomfortable passing though section of the North of Morocco on my bicycle and decided to keep my pocket knife in my pocket and not just in my handlebar bag. I never understood what those children where screaming at me as I rode by but I can say that normal happy faces don’t contort that what when they talk to you. Brian and I did wild camp one night out in the forest that surrounds the A1, only to be told later on by a motorist that it is an unwise thing to do because there are bandits who live in those forests. I felt safe at our little camp site but it fell in line with the vibe I got while cycling the North. Maybe it wasn’t danger I felt, but definitely uncomfortable.
Tangier on the other hand seemed like my kind of city, a little gritty with a whole lot of history. Hopefully, you can be stronger than the touts and work your way past all those people trying to take advantage of you. After all that, you could definitely imagine what the Beat Generation felt in this city. The winding streets, living market places where locals and tourists shopped side by side, the centuries old hotels with no hot water after 10 am, the lazy, well fed street cats, and cafes all abound. Something about the feel of this place made me want to stay a little longer. I could have gotten lost for days in the charms and air of mystery this place puts out. And we almost did, the crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar closes during high winds. I believe that roller coaster they call an Express Ferry that we had the luck to cross on was probably the last one of the day. Earlier some refugees trying to swim a crossed from Africa had to be helped by one of the local ferries, unfortunately one person died during this effort. We were lucky to be able to even get to Spain.
Now it seems that instead of being stuck in Tangier, we might be here in Tarifa Spain for the next few days due to Gale force winds (40 mph+) going in the wrong direction East to West (not the normal direction) and then tomorrow the rain is supposed to come in and cover all of Spain. Leaving us sitting right where we are now. We did try to roll out of town earlier today only to be forced back for safety reasons (palm trees leaning sideways.) It’s always windy here in Tarifa, lets just hope it turns beneficial and blows us West to East like it’s supposed to. Otherwise, why did I work so hard fighting the North winds of Morocco to get to Spain to only now fight East. Sometime you feel like you can’t win, except, Spain is beautiful! I’ll just have to console myself with that.