Friday, October 11, 2019

Moroccan mornings (7560)

The ride from Chefchaouen
There are few motorways for us here. Riding on single-carriage roads is less demanding than motorway biking. Even if the journey time is the same, it takes less out of you. And when we left the blue city for Fés in the early-morning mountain cool, our journey had the added bonus of being mostly in the Rif mountains. Mountains and motorbikes; made for each other.

To school
Because of the hour (we set off at 7.30), we saw the countryside waking up. Crisply turned-out schoolchildren emerged along the dusty country roadside from you couldn't tell where. I noticed older siblings solicitously walking their younger brothers or sisters along. We attracted their attention. The girls usually seemed detached about our presence, the boys were more animated, often mimicking the twisting of a motorcycle throttle. None were short of a warm smile. Moroccans smile easily.

Morning ride to Fés
We saw many herdsfolk - of both genders. There seems to be a culture of what I came to think of as 'road-margin grazing'. Small herds of goats, sheep and sometimes cattle, always skinny, are pestered into position by their handlers, not in the fields and not in the roads, but in the two or three yard space between them. I can only imagine that their owners have no other land on which to graze them. It must be a thin existence.

We passed olive groves, cabbage fields and many fruit groves - of what types I couldn't tell. Usually they looked locally-owned. I've no idea how I'd know. Perhaps the impression comes from a certain rustic character. There are other fields, too, much bigger and 'protected' by high, barbed-wire fences. They look more corporate and I wondered where those profits are enjoyed.

An opened door
On arrival there is always the question of where the bike will stay. Security is a preoccupation. I had one stolen in Bethnal Green from outside my flat. Once bitten, etc. (And we'd had dire warnings about the 'big city' from the night watchman at the Rif Hotel when setting off.)

Please come in...
When Khaoula, the Fés Hostel International manager opened this door, she saw the bike and immediately waved it into the courtyard. She was more confident that the wide adventure-bike style handlebars would fit through than I, but she'd seen it done before.

Happiness is...
This (the hostel, not the city!) is a very relaxing place to be, which is good because I have a cold and have been spending much time horizontal. I'm reading Don Quixote (which is appropriate for so many reasons) and Sun-Tzu's The Art of War (which isn't, but which is very interesting).

Today we'll visit the Medina, the world's largest urban traffic-free zone. Tomorrow we go to stay with a Fés family for three days to experience the lifestyle. That should be fascinating.

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