Wrapping Up The Season in Morocco

My season with Backroads has come to an end and I’m laying low in California for the time being.  Here are some photos from the last part of my adventures abroad.

Before leaving Dubrovnik, we sat down for a cappuccino outside the walled city,

and jumped into the Adriatic for a little swim. John and I are down there bottom right of the image.

Genuine Bicycle Related Content.

Light reading on the train back to Provence.

My Dad was born in Morocco, and I’ve been curious about the country for quite a while.  An opportunity presented itself to go for a couple of weeks, and I jumped on it. Fellow Backroads leader and good friend Claire P decided to come along and help cause trouble.

Although Marrakech is only a two hour flight from Marseilles, I felt butterflies in my stomach as we looked out the window on a new country and continent.

Claire gets an early lesson in hustling from our friendly local henna artist Fatima in the Jemaa el-Fnaa market in the Medina.  Claire said she didn’t want any henna, but Fatima grabbed her hand and started drawing away, saying ‘free’.  After she was done, she told us to pay anything we wanted, most people gave her the equivalent of $35 (HA!).  Claire reached for her wallet to give the woman a small amount of money, but thought she had been pick-pocketed.  I thought it was just an extremely clever ruse, since I knew her wallet was in her front pocket and would have been almost impossible to pick.  She kept looking at me and getting more upset that I didn’t look concerned.  I casually played along while trying to catch a wink from behind her glasses. Fatima didn’t want to come with us to the police, so we went along back the way we came.

I told her where her wallet was, and then realized that she really hadn’t been acting.

We retreated back to our hotel to regroup while Claire wiped off any trace of henna.

The Moroccan version of a stop sign.

I saw awesome bikes the whole time we were there.  Many had been ridden hard and were missing three or more cables, being held together with little more than rust and luck.

The old town Medina area of Marrakech holds a variety of small shops and reminded me a lot of Delhi, except perhaps a bit cleaner. 

The old town of Marrakech comes to life at night with scooters, horse drawn carts, bicycles and cars all crowding into the narrow streets and vendors hawking their wares to the crowds of people.

Back at the Jemaa el-Fnaa, we were ready to once again brave the merchants and hustlers.

Moroccan food is delicious.  Grilled meats and Tagines can be had almost everywhere.

A friendly game of street checkers.

Leaving Marrakech we rented a car (Whoa! If you do this, check out Concorde Car in Marrakech) and headed east to the town of Merzouga near the Algerian Border to ride camels for a couple days. We made the mistake of trying to make the whole drive in one day.  After one Gypsy attack and several attempts at misdirection from local townspeople, we eventually found the way to our Riad.

Claire getting up for the first time with our guide Ibrahim.

Hanging out on a dune with the sand whipping.

Ibrahim taking a nap at one of the Berber tents we stayed in.  His turban is about 30 feet long and serves as a sheet when necessary.

Claire wanted to try leading the camels, so Ibrahim hops right up on the camel and rides it side saddle, cool as you please.

Our next destination was Essaouira, a fishing town on the western coast of the country. Many european tourists come here for the beaches and quiet atmosphere.

Looks like we found the place they send abandoned Burning Man bikes.

No cables on this one, except for the lock!

Here’s one more, from our staff ride in Crete.  

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2 Responses to Wrapping Up The Season in Morocco

  1. Thomas Keenan December 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I could noT find one of the 30 foot turbans in the recent campmor catalogs. Scope of recent post was intriguing and as always enjoyed the content, i.e. pictures, words and thoughts. Putting together a winter mountain touring kit to get from NYC to catskill mountains (actually an eroded plateau) via home to bus to bike to hike then home. By the way any opinion on the Thermarest neoair? It’s a lot of money for me.

    • Daniel December 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Neo air is great, except for the price! Super comfortable and about as light as they come! Nice to hear from you!

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