Turn south to zagora
Early rise this morning and got myself sorted to leave the hotel in Marrakesh, it seems to a regular thing now that I’m up and ready well before the hoteliers have lifted their heads from their pillows!
I wasn’t waiting around for them so I opened the main doors pushed my bike out of the courtyard up the steps, and let myself out into the back streets of the medina. Closed the doors and I’m off through the twisty narrow alleyways.
This time I didn’t get lost and out I popped into the main square. The square was already waking up with monkey handlers and snake charmers at the ready and some of the food stalls were already trying to seek their wares. I’m in no mood for that and I ride off the square, past the smelly horse area and tall palm trees and join the building traffic.
As I get to the outskirts of the city of becomes obvious that I’m travelling with many tourist buses fully loaded with paying customers who have taken the opportunity to spend a night under the stars in the desert, or going quad biking or maybe to visit the falls at Ouzoued, either way they are intent in making good progress so I have to be careful, they are taking no prisoners!
on reaching Ouarzazate I decided to take a rest and pull over to have an excellent coffee and top up on water. Great local cafe with WiFi and excellent service, fully rested I head off once more.
I make good progress and head into the mountains to try my luck on the Tiz n Tinfifift pass. I think that’s correct, either way hat a storming ride on mostly excellent roads pushing the Mitas E07’s to their limits I’m having fun! The little CRF is fast becoming a very good choice, even in the mountains where I have to use the gears to keep up momentum. OK, I’m not on the back wheel out of the hairpins like on the KTM690 but boy is it a good platform to spend the day travelling. I have probably found the limits of the standard seat to be honest but it’s OK with my own sheepskin and I can reasonably comfortably do 350K in a day without too much discomfort, moving around and occasionally standing to allow better circulation. Would I change the seat? I don’t know, maybe, but for now I’m good with the perch.
pulling over in the mountains to take pictures I’m immediately targeted for the purchase of fossils, they are lovely but I’m not shopping, good hearted goodbyes to the traders and I’m off again.
i see many heavily loaded vans and trucks painstaking labouring up through the mountains when I notice my fuel is low! I have no idea when the next fuel station is going to appear but I’m sitting pretty as I have another 4 litres in my Rotopax, do I put it in now or ride and see what happens? I ride…
I spot a chap at the side of the road he’s waving me down, risky business stopping in these circumstances but I do anyway. The fellas car is ‘kaput’ as he describes, it’s a dark green Peugeot 206. What can I do to help? He asks me to pass on a note to his friends at a Berber Shop about and hour from here.
As I leave a villager appears from over a hill with a kettle in his hand, looks like he’s not going to get dehydrated.
Clearly I can’t say no I take the note written in Arabic and head off I. The direction of the shop. I’m on a mission but spend the next hour or so wondering if I will actually find the place, sometimes it’s not that easy. Anyway as luck would have it I do find the place and hand over the note, they are really grateful and invite me in for tea. The owner of the shop was born in the desert in a Berber tent, his parent still live out there in the Algerian border and venture into the desert with their camel caravan trading goods as far down as Mali, he has some lovely stock and he gently eases for a sale. ‘Today I am a messenger, I’m not shopping’ he gets the idea and we part our ways with great respect both ways. I do hope his mate in the car is OK.
Coming down the mountain pass and towards the Draa valley I get fuel. I put the older fuel from the can in and refresh that as I’m heading into the desert and want to be sure my supplies are fresh. I leave town and head out into a very different landscape, mountains on both sides and I’m travelling through a date palm forest with all the beautiful colours of ripening fruit. Many seekers at the side of the road and various villages appear and fade into the distance as I pass.
I had a brilliant day riding, I was really cold in the mountains and really hot in the valleys, I was almost hit by falling rocks as the road-workers got in with their daily chores. I was mainly on road but many small off road sections through numerous roadworks, some dry and dusty, others wet and muddy. What a superb day of contrast.
i pulled into Zagora tired and ready for a shower but first I need bread, a local chap in bright blue Berber attire riding a Honda 90 pulls up and adopts me, he’s very dark skinned and would have a lovely smile if all of his teeth were not horribly rotten! He’s a lovely chap called Abdul (again!) I follow him down a dusty path, a shortcut to the bakery, I buy bread and agree to see his shop. Abdul wants to book me on a trip into the desert to stay in Berber tents, ‘but I have my own tent thanks’
We drink more mint tea and I leave for his recommended campsite, incidentally this is the one I had planned to stay at anyway and it’s food to get a local recommendation.
i gather more followers as I make my way there, a chap on an orange Benelli tries to take me to another site but I’m focussed and I say my thank you’s and ride into my original choice.
The proprietor is ready and waiting and once again I have the choice of pitches, the site is empty! I pitch my camp and get food and coffee on the go with my trusty 31 year old MSR Whisperlite draining a little fuel from my bulging tank to replenish the stove.
I chance contact with a chap called Tim Shaw, he’s riding down the West Coast and it looks like we may be in Tan Tan about the same time, maybe our paths will cross, you never know.
Fed and showered I’m reflecting on the days events, my messenger duties, the free mint teas, my privilege to see the sights I’ve seen and last but certainly not least, the good people I met today, it’s been a good day and I will rest well, in my tent where I’m really rather comfortable right now, with not brilliant WiFi… maybe need to go for a wander!