Saturday 5th ~ Chefchaouen to Moulay Idriss
left camp at 9.a.m. arrived at next camp at 16.30. but it felt like a lot longer believe me.
This day nearly broke my heart, also my back and my ba.. balance of my mind – yeah, lets say that in preference to any other choice of words.
I can laugh now, but at the time there was no fun in it at all. That day tested me to the utmost – body, mind and soul. Oh – and the poor wee Bikes had one hell of a time on the pock marked, fecked up, ruins of roads that we spent most of the day on too.
Made me wonder if this trip was going to be anything like I had been led to believe and I was now very much doubting that the rest of the trip was going to go as described prior to departure.
I want my coffee! The day started off fine apart it being made plain to me that if I wanted my morning caffeine fix I’d need to be pretty much up with the birds, bright eyed and bushy tailed well before the group, to have any hope of getting it done without being a right p.i.t.a. to the rest of the group. (There’s one kettle, 2 gas rings and limited space and time). Well that’s fair enough I suppose but, hows that going to work? The whole point of the coffee was to get me bright eyed, bushy tailed and more or less human and fit to be in the company of other humans. I think I had an instant coffee, cant remember, I hate instant coffee. Anyhow, this was to become a feature of mornings from now on.
Dining facilities: In fairness to Dennis (volunteer camp cook) we often had porridge to start with and always a dinner to end the day. But he had considerable trouble with the concept of eating during the day. Not like he had to cook, plan or prepare that meal/snack/stuff-something-in-a-bit-of-bread-at-the-roadside either. He felt no need to eat during the day – could happily go til evening without, so it just wasn’t important to him. As group leader, coordinator and planner Dennis’s priorities and agenda became an issue with the rest of the group as time wore on. We trusted him to guide us well as none of us apart from Ian had done this before. There were times when our faith and trust were shaken.
I’m not taking the story any further up that path for now – I’m finding this very difficult to write as it is. I want to be fair and balanced, but also, I am damn well going to write as I feel and if others dont like it – they can do their own blog. Throughout the trip there was more good than bad. I’d hardly bother writing about it otherwise, now would I?
I want to focus on that, even though a trusted critic has told me this account should be “warts and all”. But for now – I will shut up about that…. for now.
Ahh, that’s better – a load lifted (a duty shirked?) I feel able to type much better already!
Right, we set off from the campsite and saw Moroccan daily life properly for the first time. Colourful villages, full of life and activity. Morocco for all its harsh terrain is a country that is full of life and full of people. I have no decent pics to show – my hands were full just keeping the Bike on the road. We had what seemed like a full days ride at the time, but it was only 140 miles in the end – it just felt like a lot more! The main reason was that the road chosen for the bulk of the days ride had deteriorated very badly in the few years since Dennis had travelled on it. Not a thing you can predict and we’ve had some harsh winters of late that would destroy a good European road. You can imagine what they’ve done to a regional Moroccan one. For most of the slow and tiring day we spent our time on a road that resembled a crochetted scarf; an edge defining where the road stopped and a lot of holes in between the verges. Here’s a photo of a crochetted scarf for comparison!
Right – now you see what I’m getting at. Not much surface / lots of potholes. Try riding THAT all day long. Though we did finally get off this road and onto a more major, flatter, road with good surface eventually. By that time an old injury I had done about 25 years ago had reappeared. I slipped two discs in my back and this had picked now of all times to come back to haunt me. Yes, I have many other health problems I could go on about, but why bother? They were not a problem, but the one thing I could not have imagined has come to plague me. Oh – and I forgot to pack my ‘Difene’. An anti inflamatory pill that makes big pains into small ones – I had three left and didn’t know what the hell I was going to do when they were gone. Strapped into my Moto X body armoured jacket and my lumbar support as approved by my Physio I was as good as it gets in terms of back support. The constant jarring to my spine was agony and by noon I was one very miserable rider. There’s only so much dodging you can do across a road as you go along it to keep away from the deepest potholes. This is made harder when you (obviously) have to share this road with oncoming traffic.
There’s not much more to say. The brain and heart are kind in that you tend to forget pain – or at least minimise it in memory. One excerpt from my Journal – the raw material for this blog, sums it up; “Hard roads, mixed -some totally destroyed; potholed, deep gravel, mostly mountain twisties and sweepers. a little main. No lunch or tea breaks. I am very sore tired and miserable… only want to lie down and pass out when we make camp… go to bed early”
A break during this day, even just one in the middle of the day would have helped enormously. The only times we stopped was to refuel the Bikes – about every 100miles. The riders never got that. The camp is a little subdued this evening. Many feel as I do about the lack of breaks. I have words with Dennis about it. No one joins me in my ‘forthright display of emotion’. I’m a little disappointed.