Morocco: The adventure has just begun



Sun, 16 Jul 2017 - 03:40 GMT


Sun, 16 Jul 2017 - 03:40 GMT

Women in the North wear these hats that sometimes made us feel like we are in Latin America

Women in the North wear these hats that sometimes made us feel like we are in Latin America

CAIRO-16 July 2017: The ferry we took from Italy let us debark near Tangier. This was the first Moroccan city we visited, even though it was not on schedule, as it was not really worth visiting. From 1912 until the ’60s, Tangier was turned into an International Zone. Artists, spies, expatriates, junkies and all sorts of other people from every part of the world consisted half of the city’s population. That was until just after the declaration of Moroccan independence from France and Spain, but some signs of multiculturalism still remain.

Tangier’s showcase is now tidy and clean

The first interesting medina (old city) we visited was that of Tetouan. Walking inside the ramparts, we got lost in a labyrinth of twirling narrow streets. Carpenters, blacksmiths, marble craftsmen, leather craftsmen; every working group has it own neighborhood. The most vivid part of the town is where the alimentary souq (market) is. Vendors cry for their goodies and chickens cackle… Everything you find here is nothing but fresh. The chickens are being sold alive! The customers choose the one they prefer and the butcher slaughters it and takes off the feathers in a glimpse of an eye!

Women in the North wear these hats that sometimes made us feel like we are in Latin America

The medina in Chefchaouen is even more beautiful, as everything is painted blue. Being close to the Mediterranean, the influence of the neighboring Andalusia is still evident. Until 1920, in this remote mountainous town you would find only Muslims and a few Jews expatriates from Granada. It was prohibited for Christians to enter the city or else they were condemned to death.

Small, mountainous Chefchaouen is Morocco’s blue town

Now things are very different, as the whole region is known for the mass production of hashish, with armies of tourists arriving to Chefchaouen in order to taste it. As a consequence, the once small plantations of that herb, traditionally cultivated by the locals without processing it into hashish, evolved, with the support of the hippy movement, into the biggest hashish plantation worldwide. By now, 42% of the world’s production comes from the Rif Mountains. We were being hassled so much to buy hashish that in the end whenever someone was saying: “Hello mister!”, I was immediately answering: “I don’t smoke!”. The most cheeky replied: “Maybe your friend?”!

The seaside road next to the Mediterranean passes through impressive and quiet places

We enjoyed a short trekking on the Rif Mountains and then we headed east through the isolated coastal road. We stared at the beauty of the Mediterranean for the last time. I hope it will be years until we see it again… It was there where we went to see the fortress of El Peñón de Velez de la Gomera, built on a big rock in the sea. Unfortunately, this rock, along with a few other coastal areas, are still under Spanish occupation!

The castle at El Peñón de Velez de la Gomera is still a Spanish colony

We reached the border to Algeria. We were planning to do some off-road riding in the region, but the ball-bearing on the front wheel of Baobabis changed our plans… Luckily, during a routine control, I found out that the wheel had some freeplay! Having covered just around 10,000 km (6,214 miles), this breakdown was really inexplicable! I even had the wheels calibrated before starting the trip. In Asia I had never replaced the front wheel’s ball-bearings, neither before nor during the trip. They had covered over 120,000 km (74,566 miles) before I replaced them for precaution, after having returned to Greece.

This time the ball-bearings on my motorcycle were replaced much easier and faster than expected

As I didn’t want to experience again the nightmare of a broken ball-bearing in the middle of nowhere, as it happened in Tajikistan, we went to Oujda, a big city by the border. It was easy there to find the appropriate ball-bearings. I had them put into place in ten minutes, in a workshop repairing bicycles and mopeds! It is so much easier when something like that occurs near a city.

From there we moved west exploring the Tazzeka Mountain. We went up to 1,980 m (6,496 ft) altitude where the air was so fresh and cool! We found an amazing spot to pitch our tent deep into the pine forest.

Reaching Fez through the countryside road

Now you find us in the renowned Fez. Its medina is vast! It’s a labyrinth where you can lose yourself for hours. Every sense is being trigged continuously… The vivid colours of the textiles, the sounds of blacksmiths working the copper, the essence of the spices; all overflow the narrow streets of the old city.

Fez medina

Here you can watch our first video from our journey in Morocco:

This article was originally published by mad nomad



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