Day 17 In the wars
Trip Start Mar 19, 2012
30Trip End Apr 10, 2012
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Where I stayed
Essaouria – Laranche 381 miles (10 hours riding)
First an apology for yesterday's entry – more a diary than a feisty travel blog, hopefully it didn’t offend anyone, just my thoughts as I typed, but a tad morose methinks. Perhaps it needs archiving..
My original plan today was to ride up the coast to the capital Rabat before heading east to Nador for the ferry home back to Spain next Monday. I’ve been twitching about the dreaded crossing for the last few days, so when I noticed at lunchtime my rear tyre was illegal, I realised it might be a good idea just to take the hit on the prepaid crossing at Nador and try to get back via Tangier/ Ceuta rather than go back on the rough roads again. The other tyres are ok, so I have the option of doing some swapping as soon as I get back to Spain, plus there is the possibly punctured spare to fall back on, but the new tyre is shot after only 3K miles !
Today’s riding has been the usual Morocco mix from war zone mud and rubble to 6 inch floods to potholed tarmac, all of it in heavy rain. Some towns were so bad in the rain I simply did not know where the road was, and just rode in any space that opened up between market stalls and parked vehicles.
At the first fuel stop this morning the attendant quipped 'Ou est la guere ?’ or ‘Where is the war?’. I’d forgotten how military Babs looks with all the green canvas. For a paranoid second I thought a Syrian type war had broken out in the North of Morocco, until I decoded his joke.
The war motif truly hit home at about 5pm when having spent a pleasant hour (sarcasm) trying to negotiate the centre of Rabat at evening rush hour and having found the route out North to the motorway, I succumbed to a scary accident.
Serves me right for talking about death tweaking the handlebars yesterday.
I was bombing on the inside lane of the motorway at 50/55 mph when a passing truck drew alongside and then was then shunted onto me by a colliding coach. The front of the truck hit me hard on the sidecar and physically shifted me sideways off the carriageway onto the gravel hard shoulder. I managed to free myself at speed but the truck then jack knifed and hit me broadsides again. Eventually the truck then hit a BMW car in front of me and the coach impaled itself into the truck.
I remembered the usual advice in these situations – if you can drive, get out asap, so I pinned it and drove for 5km before pulling over and inspecting the damage. The sidecar mudguard is badly mauled and the lights smashed off, but perhaps the most intriguing are the scratches down the monopod showing the lorry was in full contact over a large area.
I honestly think that the sheer strength and weight of the bike saved me – a solo would have been knocked off instantly by that sudden impact and the consequences don’t bear thinking about. So I owe that bike a lot now. I’m still shaking but will post some damage photos in due course .
I now was in no doubt – time to go as far North today while I had light and ditch the Nador crossing.
I made it to Larache when it was dark and eventually found the Espana Hotel Andie & I had worked out using her internet connection and the GPS directions. Sadly it was in the middle of a rough bustling pedestrian precinct, and I needed to accept help from a couple of teenagers on pushbikes to locate it, whilst a suspicious looking guy watched over the parked bike ( that’s 3 donations to the local economy already). The hotel is not as luxurious as the website, in fact it scores pretty near the worst so far. A disabled dwarf showed me the 2 available rooms and I selected the marginally better second, swayed by the small bar of soap that was proudly demonstrated.
The dwarf refused the manager’s protestations about then directing me to the secure parking, so the two youngsters took on the job. 20 mins walk / 5 mins ride away I was led into a dark lot where a couple of tall hooded men in djellabas then proceeded to shout that there was no room, and proceeded to hit and kick the boys for assuming they could just bring strangers there.
As I made no real attempt to move, the ‘guardien’ of the ‘car park’ eventually discovered an empty burrow in the totally dark corner and I then tried to pull as much kit off the bike as I could carry. I had to leave a lot on the bike, so I’m not convinced what will be there in the morning.
The plan is now, bike remaining in the morning, to ride the 75 miles to Ceuta and with the aid of hustlers and fixers attempt to get a 35min ferry ride back to the safety of Spain, when I can then take stock of the damage and decide how much needs to be fixed in addition to the tyre swaps and full service that Babs so desperately needs.
I think I’ve definitely had enough of Morocco for this trip..