We have spent a few days in Fes as Net has a very iffy tummy. But I am now a bit stir crazy and time is slipping by so we need to move on.
Net was still not well enough to ride so we arranged a taxi to take her and her bike ( and most of my luggage) onto the next location.
I cycled the route with only one pannier which meant travelling very light.
The ride out of the city wasn’t too bad.. After about 20 k the hill climbing started, there was a 1000m to climb. The hill was not too bad and having no kit made it much easier.
This day involved three episodes.
Episode one, the city ride and flat farmland.
Episode two the hillside ride into the mountains with the terrain turning into the rocky ground with the locals selling fossils and chyrstals by the roadside.
Episode three was a trip into France, reaching the town Lafarne the buildings and streets and tree-lined avenues made it feel like I was cycling in France, very strange.
On route today I met a couple of cycle tourers from south London, they had set off from home, through France and Spain and were heading to Marrakesh but long hard way over the mountains. We have swapped emails in the hope we could meet up later that night.
Net – I really wanted to ride with Gary but after 7 days of being ill, I had no energy. It was interesting riding in a cab, the drivers use their horns and hand gestures much more than we do. One hit of the horn could mean I am behind you let me pass or simply I have seen you. If a driver wants to overtake and the driver in front fails to react the car behind drives progressively more closer and uses their horn in a more aggressive manner. They also drive in the middle of the road. It all seemed needlessly stressful.
My taxi got lost several times on route and although I had the address and a map he struggled to find the accommodation. When at last he did he insisted on an addition 100 dirhim (approx £10 for his troubles, I pleaded poverty, gave him an additional £2 and sent him packing.
I was a little worried when we arrived at the accommodation it was down a dirt track, a rubbish bin had been tipped over the road and 4 stray dogs were loitering outside the property. I was greeted with a warm welcome and shown my room which was fairly basic but better than some we had stayed in. The main issue with the accommodation was the noise, ideally I would have liked to snooze, as I am constantly up and down in the night I’m shattered, but with screaming children and barking dogs, this was not possible. Instead, I went in search of a pharmacist who kindly suggested I needed a course of antibiotics. I somehow managed to get lost in the local medina but it was good to get my bearings. Several men approached me but soon left when I told them about my husband. I think they see an older western woman and think money, I may be wrong but it is amazing how quickly they lose interest when they know you are not alone.
Azrou to Khenifra
Last night we met our clones, Sally and Tim the cycle tourists, I had met earlier in the day. We had a lovely evening chatting with them. They have had lots of adventures together but the striking thing is how similar they are to each over as we are as a couple.
Chatting with them has given us another perceptive on how we can do our next big trip.
Ginette is riding again today it’s much nicer having my smiling lover back.
We had a good downhill stretch and a few hilly climbs but we are cycling along the edge of the Atlas mountains at approx 1000m on what has turned out to be a well surfaced level road with light traffic.
We have had some stunning views each side of the mountain range, it doesn’t look that high but then we are already high up on this road. The views do change often mostly dry land but the occasional green forest area.
We are still passing rural areas with the locals hitching lifts, it looks like they use the donkeys to get to the Riad then leave them at the roadside and hitch to town.
Reaching one small town at lunchtime a huge market was in full swing, we didn’t go in the market area as it was swarming with locals. We did stop for lunch in the town at a roadside cafe for a Moroccan bread/pancake handmade on a griddle whilst we wait.
This was a great people watching session observations include:
Men with full length hooded (Klug Klux clan type but not white) coveralls.
Women with children wrapped to them in fabric baby carriers.
Small pick up trucks with handmade double-decker shelves with cows at the bottom and sheep/goats at the top, plus passengers also in the top.
Busses and trucks with the roof kitted out so they can also carry sheep and goats on the roof, I don’t know how they get the animals up there.
Men great each over, hold hands and kiss cheeks, then have long conversations whilst still holding hands, this is not always just two men. it can be a group in a man hug. We have seen this lots but it was good to watch whilst we tried to converse with the lady who cooked our pancake-like dish. She had no English and we have no Arabic but we didn’t let this stop us.
Frid 21st, Khenifra to Ait Ikkou.
A nice easy undulating ride today along the main road that hugs the Atlas Mountains. There were a few sections of roadworks with gravel to contend with but the scenery changed as we travelled so it was a relaxing ride. We had mountains on one side and a huge area of flat land to the other. We did have some kids thrown stones after us but this is at schools out time when they all marching along the roads goading each so we didn’t read too much into this, I expect it would be the same in the UK.
The temp reached 37.5 degrees so we were both flagging by the afternoon.
We stayed in Maison avec vie Ait Ikkou, we had trouble finding it as the sign at the front was in Arabic. The place was really nice, we had no air con and the windows were open to the wildlife but it felt like a Moroccan homestay.
When we arrived our hostess, greeted us and showed us to our room. Within minutes of settling down, she brought us fresh orange juice and biscuits. We sat in the garden before dinner and we were pampered with fresh cold water and mint tea Later she cooked us a lovely tagine. we are now sitting in the garden being pampered whilst the chickens and goats shared this same space as us.
Some notes from today.
Descriptions of Ginette this morning (her words not mine)
Dolly bird – this reference was from Gary, I actually said I could never be dolly bird! More like
Trailer trash, then realised I was travelling without a trailer and settled on
Biker trash – Gary added
Strong and sexy.
The heat means we are stopping frequently for cold drinks
Ginette is still stared at by the little ones, after all she is still the white haired devil lady.