Saturday, 2 July 2011

Tour de Maroc

Reading Oscar Wilde while job hunting does not achieve the desired affect. Four days later I found my self furiously cycling through Tangier ferry port, with an Arab in full ‘Djellaba’ and sandals in hot pursuit, apparently he had ‘cheap hotel’ and some ‘fish and chips’.

With my brand new one hundred and twenty Euro bike from Decathlon, a twenty litre bag neatly bungeed on my rear bike rack and my new found inspiration I commenced my 1000 kilometre journey through from Tangier to Agadir.

‘Maybe I should have brought my Eddie Vedder ‘Into the wild’ soundtrack’, I thought as I was trying strenuously to push my bike and bag combination in to the lower confines of the CTM bus service. Well….the previous night, sticking to my guns as it were, I managed to shave off 6 Dirham’s whilst negotiating on one nights accommodation in a ‘Riad’, located in a rat infested back ally, adjacent to Tangier ‘Medina’.

Apparently, the pipe smoking Moroccan ’Riad’ owner had somewhat enjoyed my negotiating techniques and had felt compelled to friendlily warn me of the lurking dangers I was to encounter on the first leg of my trip; Tangier - Chefchaouen - one of these being the unfriendly bandits of the Rif mountains.

Chefchaouen is an amazing, beautiful town located deep in the Rif mountains. The view on arrival is magnificent, its almost like its floating in the sky as the entire town is painted sky blue, apparently to ward of mosquitoes and keep the temperature cool. One of the bus drivers befriended me as I strolled up towards the old town, and after explaining my intentions of camping in the mountains his bubbly persona began to fade.  ‘You cannot camp in mountains my friend’, he said. ‘The bandits will rob you’ he insisted, ’you must stay in old town, I show you nice Riad, Valencia’.

After consideration to this mans bold claims, I followed him up the old, blue cobblestone alleys to the Riad Valencia where I negotiated 60 Dirham for one night. I couldn’t help think to myself, this isn’t a bicycle camping adventure, I have just got the bus here and now I am staying in the comforts of a 2* Riad room!

Tucking into my beef tagine accompanied by two huge circular lumps of bread I made the decision that the following day I would completely ignore the advice of my Moroccan friends and ‘risk my life’ by rambling up in to the Rif mountains!

Wild goats, cows, and strange animals ambled the sheer cliffs and valleys and at one point Im sure I even saw a baboon. Thoughts of bandits had at this point ebbed away from my mind as I was in awe of the magnificent scenery, and anyway I didn’t think there would be anybody this far up.

Sweating profusely and exhausted I clambered up to yet another of the continuous rolling peaks, and it is here that my story unfolds and comes to its illustrious conclusion, it was here that my adventure began, and it was this that my Moroccan friends were referring.

Swaying in the wind and baking in the afternoon sun were field upon field of five foot Marijuana plants accompanied by three very nervous looking ‘bandits’!

Well after all, ‘Living is the rarest thing in the world, most people just exist, and that is all’!

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