I was sad leaving Essaouira. I felt it whilst eating breakfast looking out to sea. The trees were still but The Atlantic danced, I could take my eyes of it. It was time for me to leave the hotel, I was careful to pack my memories well, for this time couldn’t be forgotten. I arrived at the coach station in good time and sat and waited. Within two to three hours I would be encountering Safi. Another coastal resort. I remembered how attentive and friendly the waiter had been that morning. I was telling him how much I enjoyed the argon butter. Without me asking he fetched a pastry with some more butter. ‘C’est bon!’he smiled. ‘C’est bon, tres bien’ I ratorted. Why I don’t know, but I couldn’t have sounded more gutteral had I tried. For a second, I was a Frenchman. Quickly I reverted, I wasn’t having that! I jest! I left the hotel in adequate time to enable me to have one last cycle around and about. It was early and cold and windy, and yet the kids were still playing footy on the beach. I wanted to join in. On board the bus and the time went quickly. We were soon at the first wee stop which was just eighteen miles before my destination, Safi. I’d planned to ride from here if the weather looked OK. The weather did look OK, but I wasn’t convinced about the locals. This was Sunday and it appeared that the whole town had tipped out of their homes and on to the streets. It was really busy and I simply didn’t feel comfortable enough to pack the back and ride off. I got off the bus at Safi and headed straight for the medina. The Hood would be a better label , it would conjour up the right image. Same old, same old, dirty men without teeth limping about, kids playing harmlessly through the alleyways, beggars in abundance, women appearing to have attempted to wash and people helping me. Everybody looking at the tourist and everybody making way for him to pass them in the narrow alleys that still remained dark during the day. Each alley had a ceiling to it, a brick vaulted ceiling, which some of them had been plastered. Either way, day was night! I’d been to one hotel already, it was good value at 300 DHM for a three star, but I wanted cheaper. A bed and wi fi suits me fine. I’d rather have a conventional loo, but if cheap means a hole in the floor and the chance of slashing on ya feet, then I’m always going to take that chance. I mean c’mon, what’s a bit of piss on yer foot to save a tenner, it’s nothing is it? After all, there’s always the filthy sink in the bedroom to wash your foot in. That’s never going to happen though, you’d never go the loo without your shoes on! Next place wanted 350 DHM, see ya,I was gone. I could see a hand painted sign on a wall a few yards down the street. ‘Hotel Majestic.’ It looked perfect, filthy, horrible and cheap. I checked in for 100 DHM, a shower was an extra 10 DHM. I saved 10 DHM. It was time to go shopping. Upon entering the supermarket I was smashed in the face with a rich smell of spices. It looked magnificent and smelt just as good. Something I hadn’t seen before, the rice and the pasta and the spices were sold loosly. It wasn’t prepacked.
The supermarket was at the top of town which was quite a walk, I’d passed Carrefore on the way in whilst on the coach. I’d got dinner and a small breakfast for under a fiver. Then it started throwing it down, ‘il pleut.’ I had no choice but to get a cab. I bet it was one and a half miles, the equivalent of fifty pence that cost me. ESitting in my room I could hear the rain heavily splashing off the outside walls where the guttering had never been. I was glad of the harsh rain, I think it cut the protest short. I could hear a chant through a loudspeaker which was then repeated loudly and aggressively by the people who were demonstrating throughout the town.
Safi – Ouladidia
Setting off early morning was a risk, there was a fifty percent chance of rain up until 13:00h. I didn’t want to hang around, I took my chance and it paid off. Then ride couldn’t have been any worse, a total of forty two miles. The first twelve miles were into headwind and the rest was blowing NNE at 33kmh. I was riding north and it howled right across me, sometimes forcing me on to the verge. I had this for five hours constant. On occasions I had no choice but to walk. Whilst it was tough, I recovered straight away and delighted at my achievement.
All of the time, the forty odd miles I had the ocean to my left. It was nice but I couldn’t really enjoy it because of the arduous task I was having. What was lovely was cycling past the donkeys as they roamed freely.
I cycled past lots of people, farmers and farm workers, everyone of them smiled and waved, some cars tooted their horns gently as they overtook me, waving and smiling through the windows of their battered unroadworthy vehicles. The Spanish and the Portuguese are hopeless when it comes to acknowledging passing strangers. I would think, one in every twenty five might reciprocate the gesture of acknowledgement. The people of Morroco are very welcoming and regularly initiate a smile and a wave.
I’d got eight miles to go and it would take an hour in these conditions. Time was on my side so I made a pit stop and had a couple of coffees. I could have fought the last eight and not had a break but by doing so, it made the last leg of the journey, more than bearable.
This town I’ve reached today is supposed to be one, of the highest standards. To quote Jim Royale, ‘my arse.’ It’s no different from the other towns, other than the fact it’s right on the coast. Over an hour I searched for cheap accomodation. I found one at 100dhm, another at 200dh, neither had wifi. They were disgusting but I’m used to that. It doesn’t matter how cheap they are, if there isn’t wi fi available in the rooms, then I’m gone. I ended up paying 500dhm, £35, I was gutted and tomorrow would be the same. My room for 500dhm was clean but tired. I was able to lie in bed and watch the ocean dance. There’s a certain beauty watching it whilst in bed, for me it’s quite average as a passer by, but in bed, that’s a different story.
To finish off today, there are just three images I’d like to share. I like them all for different reasons, and the seatbelt sign, well, the mind boggles!