Day181 16th January
37miles (Assilah to Larache) Average speed 11.4mph Top speed 30 mph
A wonderful day.
I had brekkie of fresh raif bread and jam and marmalade with camomile tea and fresh coffee. Chatted to a couple from NZ and Anders of Sweden. Packed and said goodbye. Then a good ride on the main road, which was dodgy in places due to roadworks, but a pleasant journey with some long steady climbs. Lots of people waving and saying hi.
I stopped at the intersection with the main motorway, next to some police setting up a roadblock and asked the man selling peanuts if he was selling tea. He understood nothing of English, Spanish or French, only Arabic, but after lots of miming he offered me a warm sweet tea of his own from under a piece of cardboard. I assumed that as he was the only one around that it should be safe to drink and enjoyed my first Moroccan tea. I took a photo of his stall but was wary that the police were in shot too and didn’t fancy upsetting them. I gave him 4 dirhams for his troubles and continued my journey up the next big hill.
I’d wondered what the rather odd odour was as I sat on a roadside rock drinking my tea and as I left I noticed the upturned dog with its legs akimbo, at least it wasn’t the tea that smelt that bad.
I continued uphill with some rather large lorries thundering past, sometimes a little too close for comfort. I soon passed many more roadside vendors selling a range of produce including colourful feather hat decorations, tagines and ceramics, onions, peanuts and avocados. All the salesmen viewed me with either derision, wonderment, confusion or just said hi. Then after a while I arrived at a town where it was lunchtime for the schoolkids who cycled with me, laughing and joking or waved hellos to me. It was good to have company for a couple of miles.
Then I paused at the top of the hill with sheep and lots of people about before taking a fantastic fast downhill all of the way to Larache. It was stunning scenery and very green all the way. I was cheered on by a guy riding pillion on a moped and followed the road round to the port where I watched a trawler bringing its haul back in and the salesmen with their smelly fish. I decided not to eat here as there was no sun.
I carried on and found a smoke house just inside the medina.
Then up to the town centre, where I was asked for the first time if I needed a hotel, by a guy who pulled alongside me on a scooter. I followed Muhammed Street out of town and stopped at a cafe in the sun at a busy junction. Asked for coffee and a menu, but was told no food??? I think some cafes only sell coffee, strangely. They had wifi but it wasn’t much good as I tried to find a hostel. Then google maps found one nearby and sent me to a Danone factory and then a derelict wasteland. I carried on along the main road and spotted a campsite. As I went in the family were eating, but said I could camp under the trees. I set up and was the only one there until a couple of camper vans rolled in which made me feel better. Then I saw they were cleaning the shower block opposite the waterless one I’d just used! 30 dirhams for the night. A supermarket nearby and a restaurant open until 1am. Perfect.
I went to the supermarket, where two boys on bikes appeared to be asking me the equivalent of the Scouse scallies asking to look after your car for a fiver, but their lack of English meant no money from me. I kept an eye on them as I entered the shop but they were soon distracted into helping a man unload a van so were possibly just looking for something to do. I bought brekkie but there was no sign of any illicit drink in the hypermarket.Then back to the campsite for dinner – harira soup and chicken tagine with lots of bread. A cat begged me consistently throughout my meal and was finally rewarded with some fat when I had finished. A coffee to follow and in bed by 8pm. Awake again at 11 for another coffee and a chat with the security guard who insisted he had no change having closed the till. So my coffee cost 20 dirhams instead of 8 but at least he will keep and eye on my bike.
Camping Eco Larache 30 dirhams
No hot water but lovely people
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