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Morocco Overland: From the Atlas to the Sahara - 4WD, Motorcycle, Van, Mountain Bike

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  #1  
Old 25 Jun 2012
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Six weeks in Morocco May/June 2012

Just back having covered 8,100km on my second trip this year. I've written up the first four weeks and should have the rest finished in a couple of days.

I managed to cram in a lot of interesting places including
- the world's shortest international border (just 85 metres)
- French Foreign Legion fortress
- site of a battle where 3,000 Moroccan irregulars killed 13,000 Spanish troops
- lots of pistes
- 1,000 year old hammam
- acres of cannabis...

Trip report: Six weeks in May/June 2012

I'll be at the Ripley meeting next month, so if anyone has any questions about Morocco come along to my session or catch me with a pint.

Tim
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Last edited by Tim Cullis; 25 Jun 2012 at 01:00.
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Old 25 Jun 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post

- site of a battle where 3,000 Moroccan irregulars killed 13,000 Spanish troops
Maybe I have a sensitive day, but after reading the tone of your report, which btw is very interesting and useful, I keep wondering if that info is the exposition of a fact or if it is also meant to be droll.

A much less important matter is accuracy (check always other languages in wikipedia, a good starting point), since unfortunaly in Spanish history we are used to be f**ked hard in wars due to a quite stupid habit of not capitulating (although here some 15-18.000 rifeños which joined the original 3.000 on the prelude of the Annual battle; and count civilians among the 13.000 dead). Stupid us getting involved in wars.

I answer your question "do I sound grumpy?": yes, you do, at least to me.

Maybe I sound rude, which is not exactly my intention.

Happy travels,

Esteban

Last edited by estebangc; 25 Jun 2012 at 17:17.
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Old 25 Jun 2012
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The figures were from the English language Wikipedia and if they are not right, you should perhaps edit the pages. At one point it talks about 20,000 Spanish dead, but I think that might be for the campaign as a whole. It took a combined Spanish/French expeditionary army that together with Goumiers numbered half a million soldiers to subdue the Rif.

I've had a look at the Spanish language pages on Wikipedia about the "Desastre de Annual" (Disaster of Annual). Very confusing with many conflicting numbers given, but according to the Spanish language Wikipedia, the Picasso dossier quotes 13,363 dead on the Spanish side, "10.973 españoles y 2.390 indígenas" which I take to mean 13,363 troops pf the Spanish army of which 2,390 were Moroccan?

The comment, "Do I sound grumpy" was directed towards the statement that "Britain has stood still on road building for the last 20 years with so-called improvements being limited to safety and slow-down measures."
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Old 25 Jun 2012
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Didn't sound grumpy to me Mr. C.
Really enjoyed the report, thanks very much.

Last edited by Hustler; 25 Jun 2012 at 23:20.
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Old 25 Jun 2012
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That was not my question. It’s not the only carnage we have suffered in history and I don’t mind at all, I’m not here defending Spanish pride or anything like that. Sure, 13000 people is a lot people killed, a very sad event under any circumstances, that’s why I wouldn’t take as a funny thing. I feel that what you emphasize is how few “irregulars” were needed to kill so many troops. I don’t care about how stupid or bad soldiers Spaniards may have been (maybe as much has the current Wheel of Fortune players), what I care is that you may find it funny (ultimately, the carnage). I wouldn’t make that comment about Brits or anyone else. That was my point and my question.

Examples always work better, so I’ll follow your pattern with the same comments. I start a thread about my visit to India and Singapore telling about me watching BBC. Even if I do speak very poor English, it’s still enough to beat those stupid contestants (aka Brits). Then I say how bad they all drive, due to the stupid British idea of LHD and how in England I had the most dangerous driving in my life (a comment: in Spain we are not respectful drivers, especially compared to UK or Germany, where I enjoy a lot driving/riding, but still we are light years safer than Morocco), only beaten by Great Trunk Road now where they drive even worse. Then I refer to how you had to beg for money from Uncle Sam to rebuild your country. And then I came to a place in Singapore, with no importance at all apart from the fact that it’s there where the British forces in Singapore (85.000) surrendered to… 7.000 Japanese, and I insist on that numbers (instead of 36.000 or whatever the real numbers are). Well, instead of emphasizing how terrible it was, since most of them unfortunately died, I insist on how few Japanese were needed. Instead of explaining that in Japanese culture there’s no space for surrendering, unless they’re obeying the Emperor (or Shogun or your supreme authority at that time, as it finally happened in the WWII), and how it’s a pity, because this cultural difference caused them to take the Brits for plain cowards, and that’s why they treated them that bad. Instead of explaining that… I don’t, but I do read the monument erected by the Japanese to commemorate the carnage.

So, you read this. What do you think, how do you feel? Maybe like me, but maybe more.

And I know about the Annual disaster, as anyone who went to school, for one reason: this event was such a shock that it provoked one of the deepest crisis in Spanish recent history, with the whole government resigning, a coup to the next government, the settlement of the General Primo de Rivera dictatorship and a subsequent punishment military campaign alongside with the French to "pacify the Rif", no doubt, tough guys the rifeños. In the long run, this created a huge reaction against the dictatorship with the fall of Crown, a new Republic, the rise of Communism, then our very own and terrible civil war and Franco’s dictatorship, if we see it in perspective. But, coming back to your point: it was not how many Spaniards died (as in your answer), but how few rifeños were needed, so I’ll make a slight historical correction: Abd el-Krim launched the first attack to Abarran with 3.000 men battle force. True. After this first victory, considered the prelude of the Annual Battle, other thousands joined Abd el-Krim. Some say ca. 15-18.000 men. Among the Spanish dead, count civilians as well, since the rifeños kept on towards Melilla and killed everyone on their way.

Sorry if I sounded harsh with the example, I don’t mean to offend anyone (as susceptible as me today). It’s just that I don’t like when people, to be funny, are only able to make fun of others. And that’s how I felt it. I hope I’d do the same if you referred to other people, not only Spaniards. You hadn’t insisted on the dead, I wouldn’t have mind at all, no matter how idiot the contestants on TV may be, how bad we drive, how we live on the EU subsidies to build our infrastructures or how bad soldiers we may be. But after al these comments, then, I felt it was a lack of respect and that took out my (sometimes bad) temper. I wouldn’t joke about the Battle of England, and according to English Wikipedia there were only 544 dead British soldiers.
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Old 26 Jun 2012
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Oh dear. I don't know how you came to the conclusion that I think battles and death are funny.

I have a great interest in history, and most turning points in history tend to be military in nature.

I lived in Spain during the Franco era so I find Casa Pepe (south of Madrid) interesting because of the Falangist memorabilia, but that doesn't make me a facist, merely someone who is interested in history. To illustrate that point I would add that the British memorial to the International Brigades is walking distance from my house, something I point out to visitors, and here's the list of the more than 500 British volunteers who died fighting for Spanish democracy.

You've not yet had a go at me about my visit to the Peñón de Vélez. Surely I must have done something wrong there as well? And more digs on the way?

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  #7  
Old 26 Jun 2012
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Hi Tim
A superb ride report over on your website. Many thanks for sharing it with us.

Look on the bright side, with the dialogue going on above, there'll be more visitors going to your site to see what the fuss is about. I can't find any.

See you at Ripley.

Chris
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Old 26 Jun 2012
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Fantastic write up Tim and some great photo's. Many thanks for taking the time and sharing.
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Old 27 Jun 2012
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Thanks for sharing Tim, great write up and I always love the photo's.


Russ
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Old 27 Jun 2012
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bonjour Tim
nous étions aux mêmes endroits et....aux mêmes dates !!!
désolé de ne pas s'être croisés
soory my english is so bad !!! but i think you speak french fluently!!..no?
marocco is fantastic....will be back maybe next year

salut
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Old 27 Jun 2012
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Today I was riding to work and was thinking that at times one’s opinion goes against others’/general view: sometimes you are unable to explain properly your point, others you are just wrong. In both cases, it’s good to reconsider your own position and, may be the case, be ready to say “sorry” if it’s the 2nd. So, I was trying to analyse/synthesise why exactly I had been so pissed off, an explanation. Then I understood the core of my point.

How can you say “a place where 3000 irregulars killed 13000 Spanish troops”??? Was it a particularly interesting ride or had scenic views? What then? Historical value? Please, you wouldn’t express any historical interest that way, you put the stress on the dead! A historical fact would be (at least):“the site of the Battle of Annual, where 3000 rifeños killed 13000 Spanish troops”. No objection then (don’t mind the figures, although they added later to the rant). But a PLACE???? What is that??? A funny tale or just an interesting killing???

With these thoughts in mind, I read your answer about historical interest and I said “no kidding!” I was already answering you that way. I finished my unbeatable argument adding your quote and… “No shit”, Tim Cullis doesn’t say “a place”, as I had thought, as it was in the back of my mind and as it bothered me (what sparked my harsh answer, more after reading more about your Spanish crossing), but “site of a battle” (even if I quoted, I was thinking that!) Well, for me history may be more than that, BUT that's a much “more historical expression” than simply “a place”. I’m not sure if I’m getting to explain it properly, how the emphasis goes on one fact or another, I think some nuances count a lot.

And later you've stated that it was purely historical interest (which was my question). I might have put it other way, but it’s intention that counts. The rest, doesn’t matter: I feel great sympathy for Italians, but blame them every time I take their highways in the north, and still love them, so I understand your feeling about our driving or whatever else. Not that you words may flatter an Spaniard, but do not justify my rant. So, what can I say? I was wrong and my “hyperbolic” attitude was out of place.

So, now it’s my turn: I do strongly apologize for my not very thoughtful rant, I am sorry if I somehow sabotaged your thread and excellent report, although I cannot go back in time and fix it (=shut up). When I said it was interesting and useful, although angry, I meant it (lack of honesty is not among my many defects). Now, I like it more, though... . So, I won’t maintain a position I know it’s just wrong (stupid pride to me), so I hope you accept my apologies. You know Spain and Spaniards, so you already discovered that some of us are sometimes a bit temperamental. I definitely had that sensitive day, as I suspected. As Chris said, I hope this fuss at least added more visitors to your report… even if I feel kind of an idiot now.

Last, but not least, I reckon you may drive better in the UK... but you cannot cook paella (no resentment).

Keep riding and keep writing.

All the best,

Esteban

PS: Upps, Battle of Britain, I made a direct translation from Spanish (Batalla de Inglaterra). Thanks for the compliment, Caminando.
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Old 27 Jun 2012
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Hey, no problem. I understand some of the things I wrote about TV programs and other subjects were flippant, though I offer no apologies for my comments on madmen Spanish drivers.

A couple of years ago I toured Poland visiting many of the German camps where they held the British Prisoners of War, amongst them my father-in-law. I was able to stand on the ground where his camp was. Several years earlier I had researched where he was captured in 1940 (Highland Division at St Valerie en Caux) and I managed to locate for him the orchard in which he was captured. Years before that I tracked down the crossroads near St Quentin where my grandfather fought and was captured in 1918. Some people don't understand the fascination with tying down where exactly things happened.

Anyway... I have a great love of Spain, it influenced much of my early life and I have fond memories of how it used to be, even though it seemed the little girls were always practicising their clapping 'tunes' when I was trying to have a siesta.

I had a brilliant time on the way back through Spain this trip and stopped for a couple of nights in the place I used to live where I had the best ever Zarzuela (a Catalan seafood stew, for those who don't know). I marched into the kitchen of the restaurant to embrace the chef--he was a bit surprised.

All the best
Tim
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Old 27 Jun 2012
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Hi Tim,
Excellent report. Thanks for cheering up a wet evening and making me look forward to my Morocco trip next year, and hopefully i'll see you at Ripley and buy you a pint.

Trev
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Old 28 Jun 2012
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Thx Tim, a great write-up and some nice pics.

Cheers Mark
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Old 2 Jul 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
Hey, no problem. I understand some of the things I wrote about TV programs and other subjects were flippant, though I offer no apologies for my comments on madmen Spanish drivers.

A couple of years ago I toured Poland visiting many of the German camps where they held the British Prisoners of War, amongst them my father-in-law. I was able to stand on the ground where his camp was. Several years earlier I had researched where he was captured in 1940 (Highland Division at St Valerie en Caux) and I managed to locate for him the orchard in which he was captured. Years before that I tracked down the crossroads near St Quentin where my grandfather fought and was captured in 1918. Some people don't understand the fascination with tying down where exactly things happened.

Anyway... I have a great love of Spain, it influenced much of my early life and I have fond memories of how it used to be, even though it seemed the little girls were always practicising their clapping 'tunes' when I was trying to have a siesta.

I had a brilliant time on the way back through Spain this trip and stopped for a couple of nights in the place I used to live where I had the best ever Zarzuela (a Catalan seafood stew, for those who don't know). I marched into the kitchen of the restaurant to embrace the chef--he was a bit surprised.

All the best
Tim
For some reason I don't really understand, I feel more confortable LHD. However, I never had such a feeling regarding British gastronomy (bad joke)

As most Spaniards, I had family (and deads) on both sides. My grandfather was a pilot with the "nacionales" (=fascists), while one great uncle (other side of the family), deeply communist, fled to France after the defeat and later joines the Resistance. After being caught, he spent almost 3 years in a camp (Mauthausen), for which he was awarded the Legion d'Honneur. Quite astonishingly, I never heard him to complain/blame any side in those wars, he only said: "wars are horrible and we humans are horrible during wars". And much more mess I'm not telling (in only 1 family)!

Unfortunately, some politicians try to keep the wounds open to have some political benefit.Since long ago it's time to leave all that behind, but Spain is a becoming again a quite polarised country...

Ok, time to "turn the page" myself as well. Forget all the mess I made and thanks for you report, I'll read again (if I finally have internet in the new place) and enjoy it with a different perspective.

Cheers,

Esteban
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