BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Monday, 4 March 2013

It's time to get moving again. 

We'll make our way to Meknes, Morocco.

Wednesday 27/2/13

We enjoyed another Moroccan breakfast then set about packing up our gear. I spent some time talking to two Spanish couples who were touring on bikes similar to ours and decided that motorcyclists really are the nicest people you could ever meet.

Then I had a chat with two guys who were riding 1987 Yamaha Teneres. One was Austrian, and the other was German. Clemont asked me if I had been to the dunes (The Sahara). When I told him no, and explained we were concerned about kidnapping etc, he laughed. He told me that Morocco is very keen on increasing tourism in the country and the border security here is incredibly secure. He assured me we were safe going to Merzouga, which was two hundred and fifty ks away, and visiting the dunes. He also told me there are some very good hotels there.

I really did consider it. I wanted to visit the dunes. A quick look at a map showed Merzouga was only about twenty kilometres from the Algerian border. That, and the fact that I'd promised someone (who I won't name) I'd look after his daughter (Can you guess who?) put paid to the idea. We're going north to Meknes.

I jumped on the bike and rode into town in search of a headlight bulb. The BM has an unusual bulb, so what are the chances of getting one in Morocco? It turns out they are pretty good. I had my grubby hands on a new Phillips bulb from the first shop I went to, for about five dollars. The same thing at home would be at least forty I reckon. 

With a nice, bright headlight on the front of the bike again, we loaded up and set off down the road to where we thought would be a reasonable destination for the night. Meknes.

Exit. Stage right.

Before we knew it we were climbing mountains again.

I sometimes have trouble coping with the fact that our bike cost about the same as an apartment in Morocco, and a lot of people have nothing. There is a huge chasm between the haves and the have nots here, and no one appears to be in between. 

I wish the world was an equal place for all. I hope it will be one day. But until religion is wiped from the face of the earth, I doubt it.

The road continued winding up the mountain and then we saw a dog, then another, and another, and another. They were all sitting on the side of the road as if they were waiting for someone, or something.

Then we saw something fly out of the window of the truck in front of us. A few seconds later the dog sitting there had a sandwich. This continued all the way up the mountain. Obviously the done thing is to take food for the dogs if you're going up the mountain.

Dog beggars. They all looked pretty healthy.

Kids everywhere love bikes. They run out and slap your hand as you ride past.

Then it was back above the snow line again.
I could feel Suzanne getting nervous.

More beggar dogs.

This is the top of the mountain we climbed.

We saw the odd donkey, or three.

You can tour on anything. We saw these two guys on scooters going the other way. Maybe next time...

Then we blinked, and we were
in the middle of a cedar forest.

On the way back down the mountain we were treated to this view...

This country is just FULL of mountains.

Not a bad view eh?

And some interesting houses...

It took us about four hours to get to Meknes. What a disappointment. Imagine too many people, too many cars, too much of everything, then multiply it by ten. Maybe I've been away from cities too long, but my immediate impression was Meknes is a hole. A bloody, big, hole. We parked at a cafe, ordered a juice, and looked at each other. Suzanne said "This place is awful" so it wasn't just me. We couldn't get out of here fast enough. 

In fact, we couldn't get out of there at all. We must have spent an hour trying to find the road to Tangier, with no success. In the end I decided to settle for Rabat in the west, then we could ride up the coast to Tangier. Off we go.

I couldn't have been happier seeing Meknes in my mirrors.

On the road to Rabat I saw a sign pointing to Kenitra, which is further north from Rabat. Fantastic. We'll go there. We turned off onto the side road and we were on our way. It was a little back road and was a very pleasant ride. Unfortunately It was getting late, and dark, and we were tired, but I was determined to get to Kenitra. In my old age my night vision is pretty poor, so it was hard work.

Sun set on the mountain road to Kenitra.

After another hour and a half ride in the dark through a couple of small villages where we didn't see any hotels, we finally arrived in Kenitra.

We rode into town, found a reasonable hotel, and checked in. Now getting old is something you can't change, but sometimes things happen that wake you up and realise just how old you are getting. Recently we've had a few hotels with twin beds and it turns out that we both sleep much better than when we're in a double. We walked into the room and both dispiritedly said "Oh, it's a double." How sad is that?

Once we were over our disappointment of having to share a bed, I fixed the shower bracket with my Leatherman (Another big thanks to Mike and Laura) and we enjoyed a hot shower. (Separately!) Then went down stairs for dinner. The bar wasn't serving alcohol, but we were assured that we could get a bottle of wine with dinner in the restaurant. Oh no we couldn't. It's OK, the Coke was fine.

After a long ride we were ready for another early night. Curse this getting old caper!

Tomorrow we'll be in Tangier. It's hard when you've heard and read so much about a place to get there and be unbiased, or not be disappointed. I wonder what Tangier will bring?

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