Morocco in January was cold but awesome

Five wonderful weeks in January and February in Morocco… oh well we had some issues with rain, snow, sandstorm, and an acute bronchitis, but except from that it was fantastic.  We learned to love both Morocco as a country and its friendly people.  We wanted to ride through the Atlas Mountains, but after several attempts when we were stopped by snow and ice covered roads we instead decided to ride around Morocco, trying to find warmer weather. During our time in Morocco we travelled approx 3500km.

 

After three wonderful weeks with Touratech Experience in Portugal and a week in Spain, celebrating Christmas with our lovely family, we headed for city Tarifa and the ferry that would take us to Tangier in Morocco.

   

 

The first week in Morocco, we rode with David and Ann-Cathrin from Touratech Nordic. During that week we had both some good weather and some cold rainy days, and we all ended up with a bad cold. They travelled much lighter than us with only a Touratech Adventure Rack-Pack. We so wished we could do that as well, but as we love camping, cooking and photography this is not possible. 

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David and Ann Cathrine were riding the new posh BMW R1200GS Rallye… No, we are not jealous 😜 

After about a week, with the last day in pouring rain, they decided to return to Portugal. We said goodbye one early rainy and cold morning in Fez, when they left and rode back to Tangier and the ferry again. We stayed a few days more before we headed back east where we came from. I had an idea that I wanted to go to Oujda close to the Algerian border.  This turned out to be an excellent decision.

Earlier we had ridden a fantastic small winding road through Parc National de Tazekka with David and Ann-Cathrin, which we wanted to ride again on our way east. However, apparently there was now too much snow in the mountains and road was closed…  with a road barrier… with a padlock… bugger. We had to ride back the same way we came and take the main road around the national park that wasn’t as fun. Anyway the weather was good and we were in a good mood.

 

Oujda

We arrived to Oujda late and couldn’t find anywhere to pitch our tent so we went into the city and found a cheap hotel with secure parking and unfortunately a high possibility of bed bugs (regarding to Tripadvisor). That was the reason why we slept on our mattresses on the floor. I was attacked by bed bugs once in Russia and it took a long time until I could show my legs again…. not that they should be shown anyway but honestly they looked gross with all those dark red bites. Anyway this time we outsmarted the bedbugs and didn’t get any bites, better to be safe than sorry.

 

Oujda is a city in northeast Morocco, near the Algerian border. After that nerve-wracking night we moved and stayed at a riad in Oujda. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. It was far above our budget but it was so nice and we couldn’t resist. The staff at the riad were incredible friendly and we really wanted to explore this not so touristy city so we decided to stay two nights

 

The riad was beautiful with many details so we spent a fair amount of time just walking about photographing the place.

 

The breakfast was delicious and the best so far in Morocco.

 

While we were in Oujda we took the opportunity to visit the medina where they sold absolutely anything. We had only visited one medina in Morocco and that was probably over 10 years ago. It was in Marrakech and it was very touristy. I remember the Moroccans were trying to sell us everything we didn’t want… Actually, I remember them selling us a big bag of saffron very very cheap. Somehow, the saffron  transformed into tumric by the time we arrived to England… African magic 😂

Anyway the medina in Oujda was different as there was nobody trying to drag us into their stalls, instead they were just curious and smiled. Don’t think many tourists visit this part of Morocco, in fact we did no see one single tourist while we were there. To clarify, I don’t have anything against tourists, but if there are too many, it changes the culture and I find it utterly boring with a touristy culture.

Not sure about you, but I thought the the mannequins in the medina looked a bit, let say… creepy, especially all the baby mannequins that were hanging on the wall… by the neck…

    

 

Lots and lots of spices, olives, cookies etc.. Yummy!

  

 

We rushed through this part of the medina as we are both not very keen ‘meat eaters’ and when seeing  this, even people who likes meat must, at least, think about of becoming  vegetarians.

 

The road south from Oujda followed the border to Algeria. The border was made out of sand which had just been shuffled into a long big ‘wall’ between the two countries. There has been a conflict for many years between the two counties. We were told that the border is now closed, but the people on each side manages to sneak over the border to see each other, which I hope is true.

 

The road along the Algerian border was sometimes very very straight and dull, but we liked the open space. In fact we really love the desert with its minimalistic and tranquil feeling.

 

Boudnib

We stayed at a campsite, Camp Le Rekkam, owned by a french guy who also served food and delicious tasty red wine. It is amazing how nice red wine tastes when you have not had any for a while.  Although Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol, you can still find shops that sell it in the larger cities. Both Anders and I are too lazy to spend time looking for those shops but when it is just there in front of us, it is hard to say no. 

 

As we were not there during the tourist season we were all alone at the campsite.

 

Anders and the babes 🙂 

 

This is a common view in Morocco. The houses fall apart from rain and wind if they are not maintained ‘daily’.  These houses are made of mud and have very thick walls, which works as insulation from hot summer days and cold winter nights. 

 

A very friendly guy, who was in charge of the Mosquee Ksar Boudenib, invited us up for a view over the village and a cup of tea and bread. I think he was super proud of the new  building. The rest of the village’s buildings looked like the photo above.

 

As much as we love Morocco we hate the way they treat animals, especially donkeys. I do understand why they need these donkeys, but why do they need to hit them so bad? Below is a donkey making something out of olives, maybe olive oil. There were quite a few men just watching this poor donkey walking round and round with folded eyes. I was in tears and find it difficult to be nice to them.

 

We certainly enjoyed some of the most spectacular sunsets, especially in Sahara.

 

Merzouga

Love it, love it, love it!  Yes I love minimalism and the tranquility you often find in the deserts. It makes me calm, happy and yes it makes me a better person… I think  😉

 

These fences are made for keeping the sand away from the road.

 

Just feeling very small… for once  🙂

 

We were camping next to a Swedish couple in Merzouga, Gunilla och Lennart. A very nice couple that kindly invited us into their motorhome a few evenings. We even got traditional Swedish cakes (Semlor) one night, yummy 🙂  

 

After nearly a three day sandstorm our lovely Fjällräven tent looked like this 😮  The tent is normally green.

 

It took a fair amount of time to get the tent back to the colour green again and as one or two cats had peed on it and therefore it really needed a thorough wash… which is really an Anders job  😀 

 

After the rain comes the sun… I mean after the sand comes the clear sky 😀  

   

 

Mhamid

In Mhamid we camped at Carrefour Nomades. Fantastic campsite and hotel. The owner Luc,  took us on a tour one night to see the dunes during the sunset.

 

The owner of Carrefour Nomades even let us sleep in one of his cottages. The thick walls makes it cooler during the days and warmer during the nights, win win situation 😀 

 

We both hates goodbyes and we have had far too many of those during the last five years.

 

When we left the campsite we took a dirt road…. I mean sand road, and got I stuck…. again in the sand. After a lot of sweat and laughs we managed to get the bike out of the deep sand.

 

Every Monday morning there is a market with fruits and vegetables and in the afternoon they sell furniture, fabrics, yes everything really.

 

These kind of roads are just the best. 

 

Zagora

We stayed a night in Zagora and met some wonderful people that insisted we had to come and visit their garage… so we did a short stop before we hit the road again. 

 

Agadir

Where it is always warm and sunny…. we were told… We had four days of rain and when we decided to leave the sun finally showed up. The last day in Agadir, early in the morning, while Anders was out with the bikes, it suddenly knocked on the door.  I opened the door, in only a t-shirt and knickers believing it was Anders but outside was a man from Norway that we had met briefly the day before… I just said, ‘one sec’ and slammed the door feeling embarrassed. I quickly put on my trousers and opened the door again and the guy was still waiting there with two trays of breakfast. There were egg, bread, orange juice, yoghurt etc. Yummy! He told me that he had once travelled the world on a motorcycle too and knew how much you appreciate a nice breakfast. Another wonderful person we met and I just wanted to give him a hug…. I should really have done that..

 

After that wonderful breakfast  we packed the bike and was ready to leave. I turned on the ignition and nothing happened… damn. 150 000 km and my second fuel pump had ‘died’. Luckily we had a spare one with us.  Anders wanted to help me and somehow manage to break the pump when he tried to remove the tube  But as the good husband he is he went out and found a new one…. but when trying to fit the new one I realised that it was the wrong size   so Anders went away a second time and, finally, he got it right 😀

 

Marrakech

We did a quick stop in Marrakech. Last time we where in Marrakech (ten years ago) we walked around the medina but this time we rode into it with our motorcycles and that was a lot of fun. It was incredibly narrow sometimes and a few times people helped to move stuff so we could pass. The most challenging part was when a donkey with trailer was in the middle of the narrow alleyway, which they practically had to lift away… oh well maybe not the donkey 😉

From Marrakesh we rode up to Tangier, took the ferry to Tarifa and rode back to Portugal for another three weeks with Touratech Experience… Anders had a fantastic time working, while I was in bed really poorly with acute bronchitis. I even managed to cough so bad that I broke a rib and also got inflammation around several ribs… mostly I do not complain, but this was excruciating. We were supposed to ride back to Morocco after the weeks with Tourtech, but I was still too poorly so we decided to fly back to Sweden and stay until I had recovered. During the first week back in Sweden Anders was persuaded  helping out with a project, so we ended up staying three months in Sweden. It was nice to meet friends and family both in Sweden and England.  We are now back on the road in Morocco and finally on the way down to South Africa. So there will be a part two of Morocco.

 

 

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