We were up, fed, washed and out by 7.35am. We felt a little guilty because we had said we would drop by and say goodbye to Hussein, but we really were not in the mood for heaps of bonhomie so early in the morning. We pushed off.
The morning air was cool nearly to the point of being cold. The sun was coming up and the sky had the odd cloud floating around. We soon reached the edge of town and were out in the dry, desert terrain. It was amazingly quiet when there was no traffic. I could hear my tyres humming on the tarmac as we glided towards Skoura.
Skoura is an oasis in the middle of all the barren but beautiful land with palm trees scattered everywhere. We pulled into a café for a coke after a couple of hours on the bikes where we met an Englishman on a year out from university doing a medical project locally. He seemed alright but was a little cocky towards us. He kept saying “Ten weeks to here is about right”. How would you know? You came here by Land Rover. You haven’t had to wait for two weeks for visas and haven’t been in hospital. Twat. We chatted to this pretender for a bit and pushed off.
Dan had been wearing his turban to keep the sun off and it had left a blue mark on his head. He looked comic. Instead, he wore his shemagh for the first time. We sped along. After that coke, I felt dizzy. It was great to be cycling again. I felt as though I had released a lot of pent up energy and tension. I also had an overwhelming sense of freedom.
To the north of us was the High Atlas. To the south of us were further mountains and around us were dry wadis, brush land, stony desert and groups of camels and goats. Huge strata of sedimentary rock appeared in the mountains, red, brown green and white in colour. It was all mixed into this amazing area. The air was cool but the sun was hot.
After lunch, I wore my shemagh for the first time too. We stopped in El Kalaa for a drink. From here, the road was through a long conurbation through to Boumaine Dades. Kids constantly cried “Bonjour, Monsiuer” or similar, which we kept ignoring. It’s either the prelude to taunting us for asking for a dirham. A few of the little shits threw stones at us but when we skidded to a halt and threw stones or pretended to throw stones back at them they all ran off. A couple of European Land Rovers went past, their occupants waving at us.
At 4pm, we arrived in Boumaine Dades and got a room at Hotel Abrar. 70 dirhams (£5.45) plus free hot water. We washed and showered before going down to pay and fill in the forms. We then ate in our room, but not before the creepy receptionist came up and asked for our passports again. This really annoyed because of the memories of our brush with the police after we left Casablanca.
I felt very uncomfortable without my passport. A little piece of me was missing. The receptionist said he had to take them to the police to see and that we could have them back in the morning. I calmed down a bit and thought back to earlier in the day when we had seen another cavalcade of cars and motorcycle police whizz past us. There was a helicopter flying above too. This was probably why they were paranoid about us .
Distance 117.5 kms Average speed 13.9 kmh Time 8 hrs 52 mins.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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