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.
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.
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.
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.