Ouladidia – El Jadida
This was a good ride, it was about fifty four miles in the end and I’d covered it in four hours. I rode through El Jadida on to the next town. I hadn’t realised my hotel’s location, I think it must have been misleading on the internet. It didn’t matter, I had a good hotel at a realstic price and even though El Jadidad was supposed to be lovely, I guessed it was going too be much of a muchness to the other towns I’d been to.
I had a quick coffee at this local place before finalising the route to the hotel. I checked in, in no time and then went have a mooch locally. The town was simple and probably uninviting to most, but I liked its lacking of pretence. I try and look beyond the ruin and imagine how it could be. Look at these hand crafted archways, they could turn this street into an eye of beauty and a feature. I’d love to have the funds to be able to approach the city council and ask permission to restore them, free of charge. To leave my mark on society and the world in general for years to come, what a trophy of achievement that could be, providing the locals with something else to be proud of their town for. From little acorns grow small trees, or is it big trees? Never mind, you guys know what I mean!
The broken pavements are typical of Morroco. ‘Where there is blame, there is a claim,’ not in this country my friend, ‘tough shit.’ Because of the thousands of small bikes, that make up the atmosphere of Morroco, every town has plenty of small garages. These bikes survive for decades.
El Jadida – Fes
I didn’t sleep well and I should have done after yesterday’s ride. I think I was concerned at over sleeping, even though my bus for Fes didn’t leave until 11h. I was having breakfast at 07:30, by rights I should have still been asleep. My stay at The Budget Ibis was comfortable and represented good value for money.
I left the hotel early and cycled to the bus the station to familiarise myself with its location. It was easy to find, so then I went for coffee at the same place as yesterday.
I arrived at the station forty minutes before we were due to leave. It’s such a strange place and the way it’s ran is so very different from what any Westerner would be used to. The passengers would wait in the coach park, the park was predominantly occupied by smaller bus firms as oppose to CTM, the huge company I was travelling with. Each time a bus was due to leave of the small independent firms, the driver would walk around the park, continuously bawling the destination. It was a filthy place and the only places to sit were outside on concrete slabs.
Locals would address me, wanting to know about my trip. I stood out like a sore thumb, always the only White. And the same always happen, they’d ask a few general questions, then pop the big one, ‘are you Spanish?’ When I told them I was English, the reply was always the same, ‘welcome to Morocco.’ The Moroccans and The Spanish really have little time for each other. In fact, they just don’t like one another, though I’m certain the devout Muslims don’t have a disliking towards them, in fact I know they love them. One of the five pillars of Islam is to HELP THY NEIGHBOUR. The bus was an hour late and that was going to create an issue for me. Now I’d be arriving in Fes in the dark without my headlight, I lost it yesterday.
The journey to Fes was as to be expected, just a nothing time, listening to the same songs over and over again. It doesn’t hurt, after a while it’s only background music. The scenery was boring, beautiful fields, beautiful trees, both looking vibrant, the sun was so bright. I’ve seen it all before, we all have, right now I feel as if I could be anywhere in the world. I’ve looked at it some many times it’s no longer up lifting. Having said that, if I had to live somewhere dire, I might wish to be amongst that boring scenery. The fact of the matter is such, I like to live as a local wherever I am. I like the appeal of fitting in. OK, so in Morocco it’s impossible to mingle, we’re worlds apart in terms of appearance. I’m tall and white, they’re not. But I can live like a local, do the local things, eat the local food where the locals go to eat,go to the local shops. Whatever.
There are around nine thousand alley ways within the medina in Fez, apparently it is one of the oldest cities in the world, if you believed what you’re told. One thing that is for certain and it does grind me to say because these people are good, it’s the fact the men lie throughout the country. To them it’s just business, a way of selling. They are passionate about Islam, and so we have two things that are common with these guys, two things that don’t really fit. Islam and lie’s. The guys on the streets offering help to tourists in exchange for money are known locally as hustlers and I’m told the good ones make serious cash. They are a pain in the arse, they don’t realise it, nor do they respect the word ‘No.’
I found my riad with a reasonable amoun of ease that evening. It was three and a half miles from the coach stop. It wasn’t long before I was asleep.