Global warming

Unexpected deluvial rain forced us to spend 36hours in Azrou. On our way there, as we were climbing and gaining altitude we entered the worst fog I’ve ever seen and then into a deluge. The visibility was so bad that we didn’t see the “St. Hubert” vista point I was keen to have my picture taken at. We were soaked through and through when we reached Hotel Salam. It was so cold and damp that we had to find a laundrette to dry our clothes. Even that didn’t help much…

We decided not to leave Azrou the next day because it was still pouring. Instead we spent our time drinking coffees and mint tea at the cafe where they had wifi. We were invited to tea at Mohamed’s, a local mountain guide. It was fascinating to see how him and his family lived in their traditional house in the medina. The first thing that struck me was how nice and warm it was! The thick walls of their old house kept warmth in in the winter and out in the summer. Why don’t we build like this anymore? No need for heating… Mohamed also showed us the lamb he had slaughtered the day before. It was skinned and dry, hanging in the kitchen. One leg was already missing as it was to be the dinner. We were told of how, on the day of Eid, Muslims do not eat the meat of the animal. Instead they make skewers with the fat and liver and steam the brain which they eat with onions and tomatoes. The meat is to be eaten with friends and families during the next week.

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On Saturday we finally departed and were not unhappy to see the back of Azrou. I’m sure it’s very pretty in the sunshine but its a bit bleak in the rain! The heavy rains had made off-roading impossible so, after seeing Barbary Apes in the Cedar Forest, we headed south towards Khenifra and were met by beautiful sunshine. We spotted a couple with a BMW GS Adventure with a Horizons Unlimited sticker on the side of the road and stopped for a chat. Nigel and Sharon were on a month tour of Morocco and funnily enough had been at the same HUBB meeting in Ripley in July! As a matter of fact they had been speakers, presenting their trip to Nordkapp in Norway.

20121029-130444.jpgAfter some friendly chat, some pictures and a promise to see each other at the next meeting we continued on a B road towards Boujad. Here we crossed rolling hills bordered by mountains in the distance. The landscape had changed a lot since the alpine air of Azrou. We were now in a much more arid section which reminded Louise of Arizona.

20121029-130550.jpgThe colour palette was provided by the dry yellow hills, the white clouds and the royal blue sky. We crossed many Oueds (river beds) which must had been rivers only days ago; the mud and puddles were a good indication that it had rained here too. We both agreed that it was one o our best days riding so far. The roads were made for dual sports bikes, the landscape was spectacular and the locals very friendly, as always. We found a hotel in Oued Zem where we were told that we wouldn’t find any restaurant open because of Eid. In rural parts of the country Eid is celebrated for longer. We therefore went straight to the Souk and bought supplies of bread, cheese and tomatoes for dinner in the hotel room. We did participate in the local evening event though, which is to walk around the park and pond, while seeing and being seen.

Louise made a quick calculation and we spent 270Dhm (£19) on food and accommodation today, that’s way below our daily budget and shows that Morocco can be enjoyed on a shoestring if you wish to.

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D -3

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With 3 days to go I can report that we are 95% ready to go! We’ve had a rehearsal of packing and it all fits in our four 36 litres panniers. Personally I wish they weighed a little less; each of my panniers weighs in at 8kg. To be fair, I am quite proud that all my possessions fit into one pannier. The other has a tent in it! So not bad.

Weather forecast for the next few days isn’t great. Can you believe that the prediction for Madrid the day we’ll get there is 15C with rain!? Is that even legal in Spain?

D Day -10

With 10 days left before we head out South it was time to have our bikes checked over one last time by a professional. Although we trust our bikes it makes sense to have full confidence in them. We do like to get our hands dirty, as a matter of fact we serviced the bikes a few weeks back but we’re not qualified enough to check valve clearances…

So off we were, bright and early to bring the bikes to our local mechanic, Chas Bikes in Kennington. Chas runs his bike garage with a philosophy we really appreciate. He will always make sure his mechanics don’t do unnecessary work but will also give good, balanced advice on what needs to be done. He’s also keen to help and has shown a lot of interest in our trip. This morning Louise got him chatting a bit and it turns out he’s had his share of adventures himself; he was born in Africa and lived there for many years, working at some point as a ranger in Idi Amin’s Uganda. He also drove a car all the way to Beijing!

Louise shared her family’s history in Uganda and promised to bring back pictures of elephants in Murchison Falls, where Chas had worked on an elephant conservation project 30 years ago.

As we arrived at the garage though my bike died on me… same as last night in pouring rain. The problem is a short-circuit which made the fuse blow, not a big deal but it needs to be sorted out. I suspect it has something to do with the amateur wiring I’ve done to link the auxiliary power point… mea culpa.

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