The longest day


I did not sleep well last night, demons caught up with me, and that was all I needed before getting on the bike again.

In the lobby I met the first and only non Moroccan people I have seen this side of the sea. It was a couple of French librarians who are down here to help with setting up a public library network. I find it quite fascinating how all the discarded things of the first world end up in the third world. Though I know somebody who’d burn me alive for putting libraries in this bracket. They were very nice and we had a little conversation about things, in particular the fact that this place was really off the beaten track.

Some young fundamentalists.

Before I close the chapter on El Araich, which by now you must have realised really did it for me, I need to tell you about the picture above. It came past my window yesterday afternoon, looked to me like it was primary school children. The ones at the front, just behind the banner, were carrying pictures of the king, not quite Thailand but not far. Most of them had Moroccan flags and there was a bunch in  the middle carrying what looked like child made painting of guys in kefias with AK47s. Now I think that if reproductive matter conversations need to wait until teenage years, then so should Kalashnicov idolatry.

Route 2,862,237 – powered by

When I got going I really did go, in fact I ended up doing the longest ride of the entire trip. It was not in the plan but, as you will see, it was necessary.

I decided that following the N1 would have meant doing eighty miles rather than the sixty I was planning today. Incidentally the reason for the sixty miles was that it would have left me with taking the 2000 Miles picture in the morning.

So instead of going inland on the national road, I left it for a provincial road that followed the tool road running closer to the cost. It was a mistake.

The first twenty miles were ok but after that the road almost disappeared, partly under water [see top picture] partly as the tarmac was either not there or covered by sand. The second twenty miles took twice as much as the first and it’s not that the scenery justified the route.

Would you camp near here?

I cannot even start telling you how much I don’t like what I’m seeing and experiencing. I did not realise I was like this, but obviously I am. The place is filthy, the people look filthy and they are not charming and hospitable but overbearing and rude.

I had decided, part spoked by the child brigade above, that it was good policy to keep the flag rolled up for the day. Well when I unpacked tonight it was not there anymore, which brings me to the next nuisance of the place: children. As I was going practically cross country and I crossed both going to and coming from school time, I got to go through quite a few lots of kids. Inevitably they were shouting at me, and I was trying to respond politely with my poor French. In some instances they were running after me, but luckily I had no stone thrown at me. Unluckily one of the little bastards must have grabbed the flag that was placed onto the backpack.

This event also made me realise how exposed I am due to my choice of transport. I am sure that situation like this, with children, will increase rather than decrease as I make my way down into the continent. I remember both Helen and JB mentioning this as a nuisance factor, but I did not realise quite how threatening it feels when you’re in the middle of it.

So, when I got near fifty miles I had an opportunity for a change of route, heading back towards the N1 with less sand, less water and no kids. I took it, even if this meant saying goodbye to camping, again, and head for Kenitra and another hotel/hostel stay.

It also meant doing a lot more than sixty three miles and therefore having to take a picture for the 2000 miles milestone. Well in the end I did eighty six miles and I will have to take a nice picture in the morning as there was really nowhere on route that offered any scenic backdrop for such a momentous picture.

The place I’m staying looks a lot more like I had imagined places would look like down here, I don’t mind, it’s a bed and I’ll leave tomorrow. I only have less than thirty miles to Rabat where I will spend a few days sorting out visas and finally decide if I will go inland to Marrakech or along the coast all the way to the bottom.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Shirley Harrison says:

    You have arrived. It feels hard. Liberal western instincts want to find it charming, but it’s just hard… There will be lots of days when you just want all the people to go away, when you’re weary of being a novelty. And there will be moments of kindness and humour, when you recognise shared humanity. I am sad about the flag, but you carry Alba in ink – those thistles – and in your heart. That’s what matters. Sleep well tonight. X

  2. Good job you didn’t have a chair with you, they would have robbed that too!

    1. Alex says:

      True, but all the sitting places at the side of the road are now taken by Moroccans sitting about doing nothing. Net result: today no lunch. Not that I would have had the time mind you.

  3. Ilaria says:

    Brutta giornata, mi dispiace tantissimo!! Mi dispiace x la bandiera, solo una bandiera…ma x te sicuramente di più, lo capisco. E poi il gesto…mi dispiace davvero. Spero che nel tuo percorso siano davvero pochissime le giornate come oggi!
    Ti abbraccio!

  4. Cathy says:

    Yep going from first to third world a big in your face slap if you have not experienced it before. Rarely a romantic encounter when it is not wrapped in a big tourist bow. You will adjust, just wish you well and hope the shocks get softer the longer the road. When you get a chance to stop and really engage with the locals i am sure you will find warmth cx

  5. Cathy says:

    and the weather will eventually turn in your favour!!

  6. julca says:

    Il nord Africa è particolare e la poca socievolezza dei suoi abitanti non so se sia seconda ad altri. L’abisso culturale però lo troverai anche altrove. Io in sud America l’ho trovato insopportabile e sono rivolata a casa. Soprattutto fino a che non riesci a mimetizzarti tra loro, non ti lasciano un attimo in pace. Impresa dura per te, visto che non c’è una gran varietà di razze dove ti trovi tu.
    In bocca al lupo!

    1. Alex says:

      Meno male che non sono solo io.

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