Adventure Potential: An overview of Morocco!
Outdoor Adventure Education student Cameron Southey is attempting to become the youngest motorcyclist to circumnavigate around the world during his placement year! He will be documenting his world-record attempt via blogs!
Morocco is such an interesting place, and is so completely different to Europe and the UK that it’s been taking a some time to get my head around! The landscape varies massively through the country; great mountain ranged in the north mixed with endless sand and scrub further south. I’m now sitting in a lush green field overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Oualidia and am expecting to be seeing camels wandering through sand dunes this evening! Fantastic. 🐪
The roads have a been, for the most part, really really goo. Smooth, clean and well maintained tarmac on the motorways makes for easy and economic riding but the road conditions in towns and rural areas can rapidly depreciate too. Not many unpaved roads to speak of so far, and the worse I’ve had was just bumpy with a heavy crosswind; overall very not bad.
The drivers here in Morocco seem to reflect the roads they are driving on. On the motorways people move over to let faster traffic through and seeing people waving to say thanks is common. Only once have I had to brake hard from an indecisive driver, who was hurtling down the fast lane before deciding that they needed to stop on the hard shoulder immediately; all while on their phone. Wouldn’t be a problem but they cut across me while braking hard and not indicating to get there! Then again, you can expect these things while driving in Africa so nothing bad happened and we all carried on in our separate ways. 🚘
In towns, however, there are no rules of the road. Pedestrians seem to be completely banned from using the pavement and likewise scooters aren’t allowed on the road. People cross wherever they fancy and indicators are an optional extra. To let other drivers know that you are turning just blast the horn and shout at anyone who doesn’t get out of the way; it seems to work!
The people here in Morocco are astoundingly friendly across the board. I bought some fresh seafood from a vendor (a bloke selling things from the back of his scooter near the coast) and all he wanted to do was chat about the route to South Africa! Arabic is the preferred language so far but French is spoken by everyone and you can get by with pigeon English. Helpful to have phrases in multiple languages and my French is actually getting pretty good! 🇲🇦
As Alcohol is a banned substance here (still very easy to get hold of, just go into literally any restaurant/bar) a common night time activity is to sit in a 24 hour cafe, which are everywhere, and drink nous nous; half coffee half sweet cream until you fall asleep. I would say it’s healthier than having beers but the amount of sugar out into the coffee is incredible! 2/3 blocks is the norm, and there are sweet treats every few steps in the markets. Fruit is sold everywhere and for peanuts (unless you are a tourist, then it is exchanged for some very dear peanuts), and the most common variety is the prickly pear. Next are peaches and grapes are pretty popular too.
Bread costs 1 dirham, about £0.10, and can be bought everywhere. You usually get a little round loaf which probably weighs about 500 grams, but thick pancakes and baguettes are equally popular - usually stuffed with chocolate spread, cheese or pasteurised butter. A common practise is to go and get breakfast from a local vendor, get the filling added at a corner store before heading to a cafe to eat with a coffee, which usually cost 6/7 dirhams. It’s a good way to start the morning! 🍞
Haggling is also completely normal, and much effort goes into getting 1/2dh off the price of anything. This sounds crazy to some of us Europeans but considering 1dh is a loaf of bread, every little bit saved can go towards feeding your family.
Labour costs in Morocco are insanely low, which means that there are plenty of gardeners around but a strangely small amount on cleaners. Many toilets are pretty grubby and make sure you have some soap or hand sanitizer for afterwards; it is usually not provided. Lesson learnt!
There are millions of police checkpoints here in Morocco, particularly entering towns but also in the middle of nowhere! It is really common to see a copper with a speed gun hiding behind a tree with a partner further up the road to catch you. I haven’t been caught speeding but apparently the fine is about €15, and they have a card reader to there is no “I don’t have any money” excuse! 👮♂️
Interestingly a ‘carte Maroc’, or map of Morocco, is very hard to get hold of - it is waaay easier to just have a beer and not worry about where you are going than try and get one. Seriously, ask a shopkeeper for a map and he’ll look at you like you’ve just slapped his dog. A made the mistake of asking a policeman for one and got a pretty dirty look back! Not a clue why 😂
So that is Morocco so far! A couple of hundred more miles to go before I really enter the Sahara, but WiFi is already pretty scarce (hence the reduced amount of posts.)
To finish this I read an interview from Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, yesterday and wanted to share some of what he said;
"I spent an awful lot of my life — until I was about twenty-eight — waiting for my life to start. I though that at some point I would turn from a chrysalis into a butterfly, that my real life would begin. So if I had that bit of my life to live again, I would rather live the years between eighteen and twenty-eight knowing that that was it, that nothing was suddenly going to happen — that it was happening all the time. Time passes, and you are what you are, you do what you do." [Rolling Stone 16 Sep 82]
I liked it, a lot, and thought you might too!
Go get a nous nous!
If you'd like to keep updated with Cameron's journey on a more regular basis - follow his Facebook page Adventure Potential!
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