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Morocco

Posted by on Mar 4, 02:15 PM
Filed under , | Comment [8]

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As I compose this sloppy prose I rest in a large and luxurious house with a pool in the farmland of Murcia in Southern Spain and it is my birthday. Last night I slept in a cave overlooking the deep-blue Mediterranean.

PetOur story continues as we leave Cadiz for more southerly climes and arrive in Algeciras, a busy, rough-around-the-edges port town opposite Gibraltar. On the way here Randall nearly adopted a new pet. We had camped in the outdoor seating area of a closed beach restaurant in a tiny beach town and a tiny little dog who looked like a stray Scotty joined us for dinner. After feeding him few hunks of bread and a little dried chorizo he let me pet his bony back, and eventually he curled up at my feet for the night! He went for a spin aboard the trailer the next day but was not altogether excited about it.

…confident apes jumped all over us in play.

We stayed with David Lechuga in Algeciras (thanks, David!) in his palatial flat and and waited a couple of days for some bearings to arrive for our trailer wheels. Randall’s bearings bearings had exploded shortly after departing Cadiz. Our Monkeyswonderful host took us for a day in Gibraltar and we hiked all over the rock, sometimes in the clouds, and the confident apes jumped all over us in play. One of the bigger ones even climbed into someone’s Jaguar through the open window as they were giving it some food, causing the three British passengers to scurry out of the vehicle in a panic and wait for the primate to eat everything it could find in the car before it climbed out nonchalantly, leaving only empty chip and candy packaging in its wake!

Pet 2Finally, on to Morocco. The ferry crossing took ninety minutes and we set tires in sunny Tangier, nary a tout or hustler to be seen in or around the terminal in the early afternoon. From what I saw of Tangier (not much) it did not seem like to seedy, riffraff infested town of ill-repute that it was reputed to be in the past. We bicycled down the coast until dark and camped in the filthy forest of a military installation. A security guard named Redouen befriended us there and shared his heavily-sweetened tea (“Moroccan Whiskey”), olives and bread with us and we slept amidst the piles of rubbish after a couple of ours of conversation in French (the second language of Morocco), some lessons in Arabic and some good laughs. The following day was beautiful, sunny and warm and we continued down the coast and then inland into the sparsely Apepopulated farmland east of Larache. Well after dark we found a field that seemed like the perfect place to pitch camp, and we did. About forty-five minutes later two men appeared wielding pipes as weapons and walking toward us out of the darkness. Their faces softened into amusement when they saw that we were foreigners and got the point across (the spake only Arabic) that they had come to beat us with pipes for trespassing but when they saw that we were just camping tourists they let us stay. The crowds of farmhands being trucked in the foggy morning all waved and hooted, smiling, at us as we broke down camp.

…gatherings of rural children either waved and yelled at us, played chicken, or through rocks or sticks at us (but not with good aim)…

During a breakfast of fresh-fried donuts and tea in a filthy souk (outdoor market) and being stared at by nearly everyone (we were well off the tourist path) we met an Israeli business man who owned some berry plantations in the area. [As a side Fishermannote, the northern half of Morocco is lushly green and fertile and the country itself somewhat sparsely populated.] He informed us of a small farm road that ran parallel to the main tole road down the coast. This road was not on any of the digital maps that I had seen and saved a generous chunk of time since the known national road cut quite a bit further inland before rolling westward to the coast. So, we took this road through tiny villages and passing greenhouses where they grow bananas, piles of refuse (sometimes burning, mostly not), and a big lake. One image that hangs in my memory is that of a man cloaked in a jelaba standing on the edge of the lake amidst pieces of garbage, his hooded head facing the lake as we rode past.

RestroomLocal taxis bumped and jolted their way past, gatherings of rural children either waved and yelled at us, played chicken, or through rocks or sticks at us (but not with good aim); men smiled and cheered us; and women sometimes raised their vales over their mouths in modesty. We reposed in the city of Kenitra in a hotel that cost $7 a piece, had fresh rotisserie chicken and hand-cut fries for $2.50, and scrubbed away the salty sweat in the hot waters of the hamam (public bath) for $0.80.

Comments:

  1. Dear Andrew and Randall,

    The Germans would like to see you! I have been presenting the missions of Asia in our chapels in Bavaria this last week, and spoke of the orphanage and its cycling-supporters! Beautiful churches, if ever you are tempted by the Barock! Can you give me a rough estimate of your itinerary through Europe and timing? If you stop in Lourdes, pray for us! The priory is 1 route de Pau, accross from the Grotto upon the hill. God bless. Fr DC

    — Fr Couture · Mar 13, 02:05 AM · #

  2. Hello Father, we are now officially rolling out of Europe and will miss out on Germany and Switzerland, to my great dismay! To be on track for the Khunjerab Pass (4,500m or 15,000 ft!) on the Karakoram in September we need to be moving east PRONTO.

    Next will be a quick run through Italy, then ferry to Greece, then on through Turkey and the Caucasus with a brief side trip to the Holy Land if we can afford the time, then through Central Asia (the “Stans”) and down into India. I hope to be in Pakistan by mid September and India in October.

    The other option would be to extend the trip for another year and spend more time in all of these places. But I doubt that my personal finances are up to the task!!

    Andrew Leese · Mar 13, 02:35 AM · #

  3. and what about Russia? =)

    — Nastia · Mar 13, 07:41 AM · #

  4. Russia…It doesn’t look too easy at this point, though I would love to visit! We have about 9000 km to ride in 6 months and adding the Black Sea Coast portion that we had originally planned seems impossible. Maybe you could ride with us through Kazakhstan? We would appreciate the company!!

    Andrew Leese · Mar 13, 12:26 PM · #

  5. Kazahstan? mm.. it’s would be dangerous for a young blond girl..))
    maybe Ukrain? I’ll be there in may.exactly in Krim(that’s a part of Ukrain, coast of the Dead sea)

    — Nastia · Mar 13, 02:00 PM · #

  6. OK. A group of asians, with myself, will be in Milan-Turin-Padua and further South next May 17-20 if ever you are still in the area. But at your speed, you could be in athens or Istanbul by that time! May our lady of Loreto watch over you!

    — Fr Couture · Mar 16, 02:49 AM · #

  7. No, sorry, won’t be hitting Ukraine either. We plan to ride from northern Turkey through Georgia and Azerbaijan and take a ferry to Kazakhstan. I think it is very safe there for just about anyone, it’s just very empty and probably boring to ride!

    In mid may I will hopefully be in Syria, Lebanon or Jordan. Wish I could join you though! Turin is on my list for sometime in the distant future.

    Andrew Leese · Mar 16, 07:59 AM · #

  8. Hello there, bikers and Fr.Couture — We just received the latest “Apostle” newsletter and were surprised to see the bikers picture there so soon, and we’re enjoying the other articles regarding the Asia missions. We always look forward to the amusing captions under the candids. (Who composes them, anyway?) Fr. Couture, you are right… the pictures on this website can really make one jealous! We’re praying for you and Asia still… We are truly amazed.

    — DJ and JDT in KS · Mar 16, 08:07 AM · #

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