Friday, February 6, 2009

Mars plus the Moon equals Heaven

So I left the warm internet cafe in Boulemane to cycle over a lower section of the Middle Atlas mountains on a main road. Another wonderful day was spent in horizontal snow. If I had been facing a week of these conditions I would of turned back, it was more carnage. Have you ever seen that rubbish motorcycle sport where they race around a circular ice track skidding constantly, yeah that was me. At one stage it was a fecking whiteout and I had to just stand still on the icey road till it passed. I eventually make to a little abandoned hut and I start to cook up some food. Keeping it simple yet yummy I had some spuds and carrots topped with a mound of margarine, probably the greatest meal of all time. So I sat there on a stone and some cardboard as insulation for my sexy bum when three extremely hardy Berbers walked in and took shelter with me. Looking out the door the wind was just mental, it was easily the sweetest place to be so we shared some chocolate and just all tried to warm up.

Wich way was the wind blowing?

A five star hotel in terms of shelter

No matter how cold the shelter was, it was still paradise compared to outside. I finally lift myself off the rock and go back out. Eventually I get the most sudden change in conditions, I litteraly turned a corner and the weather was fine again. I then roll down through the most barren Martian bowl shaped landscape over to the barrier which had closed off the road haa. I also get what I have been waiting a long fecking time for, no not sex, I get the biggest applause of all time off about a hundred people waiting for the road to open. They were taking my picture and slapping me on the back, it was hilarious fun.

The biggest cheer of the trip

Inside Lessans home

What an entrance eh

Home is sometimes a dried up watering hole

So when I get out of that little bowl I am confronted by the most daunting inspiring soul shaking view so far. It was just a prehistoric area, if a dinosaur had of walked past I wouldnt of batted an eyelid! Hundreds of kms of multiple layers of flat plateus surrounded hazily in the distance by mountains pierced only by the longest straighest road I have ever seen. So having spent the last few days crawling up hill it was time to fly again and fly we oh so did. The road looks flat but has a hint of downhill to it so we spend at least an hour doing between 50 to 60km/hr. We come to a halt at a delightful little mud walled village to get some water and of course I get invited in for tea by a guy. So I find myself out in the middle of nowhere warming myself up by a wood stove only an hour after being in the snow. Africa has soime big swings of temperature.

My abandoned mud village

A view of history

The road ahead

So we camp out that night in the most quaint little abandonded village/estate up on a hill overlooking the river that has spent thousands of years carving out the valley. When the wind drops the silence out here is really spooky, total silence is of course heaven at times especially when its been so long since you had it. We ride and ride and ride along the edge of the High Atlas towards a town called Talsinnt. I pass through a non existant town and see a few people getting water from their garden well and I go up to thel causde I recon its a fricken cool way to top up on water and have a natter with the locals. Again I was invited in for tea, the house is beautiful and cool inside, almost like air con. The sittin room as usual has only a big rug covering three quarters of the floor with cushions and wooley sheep hides on it. Painted yellow up to about shoulder height then white to the ceiling which is a wooden and cute. TV in the corner with a pretty display cabinet of cups, silverware and the usual junk we collect. We sit beside a low table and the women come in with a jug of hot water and a basin so we can wash our hands. Then its a silver platter of tea/coffee and the Moroccan bread which is about the size of a dinner plate, round and a few cms thick. You break bits iof bread off and dip it in a yellow oil, presumely olive oil? Or whatever they have like chicken, anyway whatever they put in front of me I always devour as its delish either way. Also if the father slurps his tea I do to, just to fit in, plus its kinda childish and fun, something your mam would tell you not to do at the dinner table haa.

A communal oven for the famous bread, pronounced Chobs

Are you kidding me or what

A close knit bunch

Erosion is the running theme

Stopped for a quick cup of coffee in the quietest little valley, alone and left to my thoughts about how much I love this country and its people. Thinking how empty this valley is when a little shepard starts singing a beautiful tune. For the life of me I could not spot him and I presume he couldnt see me either haaa. Thats the beauty of this country, it lets you feel like you are alone in the middle of nowhere on an adventure!

The little beauty sang out to me here

Right on the road but if five cars passed all night I would be surprised

A world record broken, longest time waiting on a bus

People are everywhere eh

Talsinnt turns out to be the most End Of The World Town. Just astonishing junp back in time, of course they have satelite dishes on the roof tops but take them away and its prehistoric. Rolling through the streets looking down alleyways and just trying to imagine how it feels to live like this? Simply put, I am in travelling wandering heaven out here. So when I get out of town over the hill and around the corner I am gobsmacked. On the map iots a huge white space, flat and with hardly any towns or roads. As sdoon as I seen that section of the map a few weekw ago I knew I wanted to go see it but the rest of Morocco was calling too, goddammit I want it all. But when I seen the plateu my soul shouted at me to go to it, really it spoke to me and told me not to be stupid, we had to go to the land that time forgot. Luckily I am on my own oout here so I can change my route as often as I like!

Where do I start?

This and tufts of grass is all that grows out here

The famous spoon in action

A refill is out of the question

Another day I passed a shepard and he asked me for some water. If it had been one of you guys I would of dragged you off to the hospital straight away. He was as dehydrated as I have ever seen. Face and lipps all dry and chipped and blistered. He took ther smallest sip and refused my offer to let him keep the bottle of water. We are talking about soime extremely hazrdy people out here.

A dash of colour other than mud is a surprise

There are camels out there

Lovin it

This was the shrivelled up shepard

Now for the absolute funniest moment caught on camera so far, probably in the history of digital photography even, you decide haaa. There I am in no mans land when I see some more camels, out with the camera snapping away. I am extremely careful when it comes to taking pics as I dont wanna offend anyone and stuff like that. Just about to leave and this guy comes out from behind a wall and walks towards me, I do the usual dipping of the head and a friendly Salam Hilikam, spelling, the dude shakes my hand and wont let go, demanding money for the pictures I took of his camels. Now if this had been a carnival where he had a stall with a sign stating 10 dirhams per photo, maybe, but come on dude. I say no and he grabs hold of my arm so I cock my left fist and tell him I will actually knock out his last tooth if he does not let go. Then he grabs my map and tries to tear it off my handlebar bag so I kinda roll away knowing he wont give up. I am so calm about it its funny. I get about three meters away and he throws his stick at me hitting Celona, I think about stealing his whittled stick but I remember how long it took me to
whittle my spoon and I decide to just get the fuck out of there instead haaa. The fucker then launches a stone at me but we have pegged it just outside of his range and I say fuck it if he is gonna throw a rock at me I am gonna steal a picture haaa, so i do. So help me god we snapped a dinger! If you look closely you can see his two feet are in the air and the second rock is up in the air above the mountain in the background. Haaaa

All good in the hood

Angry old chipper

This incident happened days before I decided to head north towards Spain, I just had to tell you cause I caught it on camera and honestly I was sitting in my tent later that night staring at the pic in bits laughing.

Trying to figure out which way to go

The silence was golden

Actual nomads

So we headed out to the most barren, arid, windswept place I have ever set eyes on. It is amazing, truly special place. But its a route that takes me north through the Plateu du Rekkam and out of Morocco through the port of Melilla to Malaga in Spain in about three or four days. I have seen as much as I can take in from one country right now. The scale of landscape has got me pondering what I wanna see in my life, I wanna see everything, everywhere, every animal and meet people from every corner of the world. I feel like I have met many different people here in Morocco. I learned about the Muslim culture, Berbers and shepards. I also know I can only do so much at a time and with the law of diminishing returns I can happily leave knowing I seen a fricken ton of this place and its bizzarly different areas and people.

My work here is almost done


1 comment:

daraoh said...

...ahh just left a long post and then it got lost when i signed in to post it

anyway, it went something like...

great post,laughed my head off at the camel herder throwing that rock at you - that really is a priceless photo. you should keep your photos safe, maybe send a cd home or something.
spain now?great thing about travelling alone is you can change your direction like the wind.are u still planning on going to algeria?be safe there.
i'm here with orla reading your blog, i was just saying how you must snap pics after you've passed people, and then the camel herder story comes up! and also i was saying about the water out there must be scarce, and then the parched shepherd comes up to you. poor chap. i got thirsty even reading about it. the places you've been look so barren, dry and like the moon.

any definite plans for route? just to let you know, i'll know by next week if i need an operation on my hip, and if i do, we won't be skiing in austria, but will probably go to salzburg on a trip anyway. work will be a joke for next 6 months, we're all being laid off anyway, so will be doing hardly any work.

enjoy the boat trip to malage