Was where I stayed this time in the return visit to Marrakech. So much nearer the nightlife and activity of the city.
The place I’ve got is ideal. It’s only a small hostel, but I was able to wheel my bike into my room!
It’s right in the Medina. All the shops and restaurants are close by. The hotel tanaga was the first one that popped up in booking. Really, I didn’t think too much about it. Having been to all the other cities, then coming back, it seemed like the natural thing to do, book somewhere near the Medina. If you don’t know anything, or you had a family or wanted a pool etc. Medina is quiter at night, there are no cars. It’s more authentic. It’s more the real Morocco.
Barrha was an early start from the house of the birds. Onto the sand track, then once again, onto the highway.
Luckily, this highway was not such a major thoroughfare. It seemed to be mostly farm traffic, men on taps and donkeys delivering things to the many poly tunnel farms along the way.
As far as the eye could see. Conditions, hot.
This morning I properly covered up with the old sunblock. Every 2 hours, I took another stop to re-apply. Fortunately, by this time in my journey most of the parts that could be burned had already received their fare share of sun. With that and the protection, no problems.
Pushing too hard
When I got going in the morning, I was a little enthusiastic. To cover ground. I’d done 120km the previous day, my brain had forgotten, but my legs had not.
Before the first hour or so, I thought I would increase the place a little. This wasn’t a good idea. I could feel a cramp beginning to develop in my quads. As you may or may not know, once cramp sets in, it stays with you for the day. It’s a curse. You really want to avoid it, because if you can’t massage it away, you’re going to have to rest until it eases.
This was supposed to be to a town called Larache, about 30km North. I booked the hotel for the wrong day, and unfortunately, when I turned up at the hotel, it was closed. I messaged them through the booking app and they notified me of my error. Nothing I could do now, the hotel was closed.
Being fairly early in the day, I thought it better to book a hotel which was on my way to my next stop, Rabat. And the best place happened to be
Riad Des Oiseaux
Or ‘hotel of the birds’. Hotel for the birds it should read. Another shady hotel in the back of nowhere.
This is the reason I’m a day behind. The hotel says, on the list of amenities, it has WiFi, but the owner has forgotten to pay for it. It was survivable though, quite a pretty location, down a 2.5km sand track.
The village was super rural and the host was fairly friendly, unfortunately, he saw guests as a material worth. Not really hospitality as such. More profiteering.
Just a little bit about one of Morocco’s most famous exports, hash or canabis. Illegal as it may be.( It’s illegal for locals and illegal for tourists). There is some tolerance for hash, it seems, in the Rif Area. Chefchaouen being the main town within the Rif mountains, and a centre for tourists, as you’d expect, there is a supply and demand thing going off here.
Buying hash in Morocco
If you want to buy hash in Chefchaouen, it’s not difficult, in fact almost every local I looked in the eye after 8pm or so intimated they’d like to sell me some!
Personally, I’m not that bothered about that anymore, but if cannabis or weed is what floats your boat, I’d suggest a visit to this area 8pm+. There’s plenty of action and the Moroccans are generally friendly, as they usually are.
Turns out the campsite owner being weird was the luckiest thing that happened all holiday.
The alternative accommodation, Maison d’hotes Cara Iris wen through my plans to get to my next destination using Google maps. We established some of the hills were going to be pretty drastic, the journey was 155km and there was no stop in between, (at least with bookable accommodation). Based on this, I decided to cycle up to the nearest gas station, (on the main road), and wait for a taxi. I’d been advised that this would cost €5 to El Jebha, a town half way.
Easy to find, on the main N16 road. Had a litte supermarket and a few other travelers there waiting for lifts.
I pushed the bike slightly out of view and set about flagging down cars. This didn’t prove difficult, my fair skin and novel outfit probably helped, the only problem was the bike. As soon as I indicated this would be a passenger also, my potential traveling partners had second thoughts. After a while, I limited my recruiting efforts to vans and taxis. After about 3 hours, (12pm), I managed to grab a taxi. I had to persuade him that the bike would not be a problem to get in the back. We dropped the seat down, took the wheels off and it went in without any problem.
The road to El Jebha
Was 55km of Moroccan engineered mountain pass. Steep curve following steep curve, either going up or going down. It was a good idea not to bother cycling. At no time did I think I might have enjoyed it out there… I reached El Jebha in one piece. I had to pay the taxi driver double because I had left let seat down and it had taken up space which would have been generating a fare. I ended up paying 100, which is about £8.