Monday, Rabat ~ “upon mature reflection”, some observations.
By the way – apologies for the delay in getting this online. Real Life© got in the way (yes i do have one actually). Much bike troubles and work have been a slight (hah!) inconvenience.
“Upon mature reflection” – a phrase used by an Irish politician when, after an event, he had to explain himself, having being caught out lying.
Well, I’ve had time for reflection and I’m damned if I can come up with a way of putting into words some of the feelings this journey has evoked. Most of this though is not due to the sheer mindblowing intensity of it all – and there was a lot of mindblowing aspects to it, but sure I’ve a big head, well able to accomodate the like of that! No, the difficulty is due to the ongoing ‘issues’ the entire group had with Dennis, our leader and coordinator.
Today I aim to, hope to, plan to finally face this head on and put in down on screen. Not easy. It is easy to simply character assassinate, to vent and rant and blame all but oneself for things wot went wrong.
First off – Dennis made it plain at at least one pre-trip meeting that he didn’t want to be and didn’t consider himself ‘Leader’. But he had done it before and no one else taking part had. Ians (the only other person that had done it before) participation wasn’t certain at this stage (turns out it wasn’t certain until a few days before departure, despite Dennis stating otherwise!) so it was logical that he led at least in some aspects, based on previous experience. This task grew. Thus Dennis’s input and control over matters did too.
Now it must be said that not all of us had read the script before departure! Much of the group were relatively last minute joiners and so had not read up on, or digested all that was involved in undertaking a 3750 mile jaunt on a Gapper. At least that was certainly my impression. So we followed where Dennis led without much discussion, on the assumption that he knew best… to begin with anyhow.
How it felt. As the trip progressed I found myself constantly having to stop going ‘wow!’ at my surroundings, the views, the people, the overall essence of what (to me) the trip was about. We had no time given to stop for photos. Most of mine are taken from a moving Bike. We had no time to simply take a break to soak up the ‘vibe’ of this adventure. There – I’ve used that word – Adventure! A word we got so sick of. Hearing Dennis repeat “Dont forget lads, it’s an adventure!” was too much for Tom who eventually replied “If I hear you say that one more time – I’m going to chew my arm off and beat you senseless with the bloody end!”. The phrase was wheeled out whenever times got tough and times were interesting in anything but a good way.
Yes, we had to keep to a schedule, to maintain progress, to push onwards every single day we were on the road. BUT, did we have to miss out on lunches so often? Did we have to do another 20 miles before setting up camp so often? Did we have no time to stop for a 5 minute photo shoot? Did we have to use motorways all the way through Spain?! Could we not find a detour when road surface got so bad the Bikes and riders were battered all day long? Could Dennis not have explained himself and his actions ahead of time – so that we understood the whys and wherefores and perhaps come up with alternatives, compromises?
It felt at times that Dennis was the only one that knew exactly the itinerary. Information was not shared. This was frustrating and left no opportunity for debate. Argument – yes. After the event / not before. Thus we had many rows that perhaps (?) were avoidable. The irony in all this was that over time, yes, we became a focussed group, a team, one moving force united in our efforts.
Sad though was that we united…. against Dennis.
Thank gods, those that believe in them for Ian. I dread to think what would have become of us if he had not been there. Ever the voice of reason and calm. Always the balancing voice, the yin to the yang. Settling our minds, hearts and most of all worries.
O.K – a lot of thought had to be put into supply issues. As in; fuel, water, daily distance to cover and place to stop, be it hotel or camp. That must be hard and troublesome to work out. I do not deny the headache it must cause or the difficulty to work it out. Had it not been for both Dennis and Ian – we surely would have come a cropper at some point – running out of fuel food, water or just clueless and marooned in the middle of nowhere.
But the human element was not given much thought at all. It became apparent that Dennis’s mind was focussed on one thing; the end destination The Bansang Hospital in The Gambia. Why not,you may say? That is why we’re all here isn’t it? Well, yes but – 3750 miles were ridden before we got there. While we had a Noble Cause and a worthy charity to attend to – was it too much to ask that we actually enjoyed it too?
The Journey Is The Reward. Chinese saying. Our reward was somewhat diminished as a result of the shenanigans. Needless stress, hurry, tensions and a lack of communication and information.
I feel i should stop this now. I want to, even if it does not fully explain or worse – muddy the waters and make me look like a whining prat. Maybe I’ll write more on (moron?!) the topic later in the blog, I will see. Though comments would be good to get, dear reader. Feedback is essential to doing this trip justice, now it’s over and writing an honest report- so tell me what you think, before I change my mind and delete or edit this post into oblivion!
I’ll finish with one small anecdote to hopefully put some perspective on this. After the embassy, Dennis voiced the opinion that we should, as soon as we got the visas the next day (tuesday), hit the road straight away. As in, mid afternoon was the predicted time we’d get them – so pack up and head straight out towards Marakkesh, getting maybe, if optimistic a couple of hours onroad before having to stop for the night and camp. So where would that leave us? On an open major road with no campsites and no shelter off the beaten track and two hours away from the hotel we’ve just left. I voiced the opinion that this was a dumb idea. The next morning Dennis said he thought that rather than head off straight away after getting the visas, he thought we should stay another night in the hotel and get an early start on the wednesday….
Funny – I was thinking exactly the same thing meself then.
Still to come about Rabat;
The market. – An amazing insight, a chance to see The Real Morocco – and as it turned out – way better than Marakkesh!
The hotel. Deserves a mention – certainly not like anything you’ll get in Europe and no comparison to Travel Lodge and the like!