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

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  #1  
Old 23 Apr 2011
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To Greet or Not to Greet in Morocco

I’ve been in Morocco for about six weeks now, travelling by myself on my KLR. It’s carried me for 42,000kms through Africa, parts of the Middle East, Mediterranean coast and now Morocco . I’m not really a motorcyclist and bought the bike just to do this trip. I was planning on selling it in Europe and then fly back to South Africa, but I like travelling around on my bike and discover/experience different places, people and cultures. I also liked the motorcycle camaraderie that I encountered right through from South Africa to Spain……until I hit Morocco
In Africa, your fellow motorcyclists will not only greet you, they will stop, chat for a long time, and probably invite you for a drink or to join them for dinner to share experiences and stories. On the open road in Europe you will get a raised hand, extended arm, helmet nod, or a leg being kicked out……all acknowledgement of that camaraderie, and you know that if you really find yourself in a tight spot, these guys and gals will not hesitate to help .
Not in Morocco . I must have passed a few hundred motorcycles by now, mostly riding in groups. In the beginning, when I saw that familiar sight of headlight, helmeted rider, and protruding panniers, I got excited, and I would give an extended arm greeting to often just receive a stare (if I’m lucky!) or just be totally ignored. It took me by surprise a few times but apart from wondering how big the stick up that guys’ ass was I ignored it. Then it happened again and again and again and again until I finally decided to stop greeting. That’s when I noticed that very few riders would actually initiate a greeting. I gave much thought to this and couldn’t believe that the same guys who would greet you in the rest of Africa and Europe are now so ‘self-important’
I had just pulled off the side of a quiet road a few days ago when a group of five bikes appeared out of nowhere. I was simply going to ignore them as just another group of wannabe adventurers thinking Morocco qualifies you as a serious biker dude when the front rider slowed down, opened his visor and gestured an is-everything-ok. I was taken by surprise but managed to signal a yes. Every guy in that group greeted me…..I couldn’t believe it and decided to give chase to find out where they came from….France!
That group made me reconsider my own attitude, so now I greet again, fully expecting to be ignored though, and taking count……I only started recently but the count now is: Good Guys 21 (70%), Bad Guys 9 (30%) and I cannot help but think how miserable it must be to travel in a group where some of the guys are so sour that you feel like puking when you have to face them first thing in the morning , and I count my blessings for the friendly waves I get from the locals and even some of the campervans……perhaps I’m using the wrong transportation in Morocco
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  #2  
Old 9 May 2011
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I tried to greet everyone in my landy, 2 or 4 wheels, couldn't be happier driving around Morocco.
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Old 9 May 2011
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Don't bother about it. If they don't aknowledge you just utter 'miserable sod' under your helmet.

Don't let it stop you aknowledging others tho. Otherwise the tradition will be lost.....and most people appreciate it.

I had a solo trip to Morocco in my 4x4. Had four 'well tricked' 4x4s fly past (in the same direction) without a nod......Grrrrrr.

I later found the group (one of them with the bonnet up) in the Cedar Forest. I'll bet I was carrying more spares than their group put together....did I stop? -NO.

Would I, if I had received a wave when they passed earlier?....Obviously

Keep waving
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  #4  
Old 9 May 2011
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Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
Don't let it stop you aknowledging others tho. Otherwise the tradition will be lost.....and most people appreciate it.

+1 I have the same problem riding a 50cc delivering Pizza, I got annoyed by the number of bikers that refused to acknowledge a wave or nod, decided to just keep on trying.

The strange lopsided nod seems to be a British thing, everywhere else puts a hand or fingers out, or a foot. I reckon this is a side of the road thing, you can't take your right hand off easily!

Maybe the number of people that are having their first taste of sand in Morocco is a contributing factor - focusing too hard/too worried about crashing to take a hand off or notice other vehicles??
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  #5  
Old 9 May 2011
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Originally Posted by henryuk View Post
+1 I have the same problem riding a 50cc delivering Pizza, I got annoyed by the number of bikers that refused to acknowledge a wave or nod, decided to just keep on trying.

The strange lopsided nod seems to be a British thing, everywhere else puts a hand or fingers out, or a foot. I reckon this is a side of the road thing, you can't take your right hand off easily!

Maybe the number of people that are having their first taste of sand in Morocco is a contributing factor - focusing too hard/too worried about crashing to take a hand off or notice other vehicles??
On the type of signals or waves there is a thread on ADVRider
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  #6  
Old 9 May 2011
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I'll get this one going; Would you say those large groups of motorcylists by any chance had links with a certain Bavarian company and their accessory supplier whose logo looks like a mountain range?

As it probably now says in their user manual: They all do that Sir

I wave or nod to pretty much anything on less than four wheels. Having done this for years on everything from a rather flash, all the bells and whistles BMW outfit to an MZ, the ratio of waves back to getting ignored is directly related to the percieved value of your gear compared to theirs. Hence, battered MZ's and XT's still wearing half the desert get ignored by Harleys, Goldwings and GS's with those plastic silver boxes.

I honestly don't care, I've always rather thought that anyone who dishes out their acknowledgement of fellow riders on some sort of scale of worthiness probably isn't worth the effort. When one of the GS's etc. does wave back you think to yourself how great it is that proper riders buy them too.

If we meet on the road, I'll wave

Andy
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  #7  
Old 9 May 2011
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Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
I'll get this one going; Would you say those large groups of motorcylists by any chance had links with a certain Bavarian company and their accessory supplier whose logo looks like a mountain range?

As it probably now says in their user manual: They all do that Sir

I wave or nod to pretty much anything on less than four wheels. Having done this for years on everything from a rather flash, all the bells and whistles BMW outfit to an MZ, the ratio of waves back to getting ignored is directly related to the percieved value of your gear compared to theirs. Hence, battered MZ's and XT's still wearing half the desert get ignored by Harleys, Goldwings and GS's with those plastic silver boxes.

I honestly don't care, I've always rather thought that anyone who dishes out their acknowledgement of fellow riders on some sort of scale of worthiness probably isn't worth the effort. When one of the GS's etc. does wave back you think to yourself how great it is that proper riders buy them too.

If we meet on the road, I'll wave

Andy
I also used to wave at everybody and also got my fair share (90%?) of being ignored by shiney German branded bikes with shiney boxes and shiney riding suits or shiney Harleys with shiney riders (who during the week are accountants/ lawyers/ local government office penpushers easy riding at the weekend?). Now I don't wave at anything shiney and make a point of definitely waving/nodding at the oldest/dirtiest bikes/riders I see.

Bikes in (organised?) groups tend to ignore you no matter what they are on. Maybe it's because they are self contained in their own bubble and don't feel the need to interact with the outside world or they are concentrating so hard on keeping up with the man ahead/ staying on schedule/itinerary.

cheers
Chris
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  #8  
Old 9 May 2011
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On rides out into the country (from London), I get maybe a 50% acknowledgement when I do the lopsided nod thing. Within London, that drops to 0%. On the continent, I get maybe 99%; even from Harleys and Beemers. Maybe it is a British / urban / southerner thing?
Also, my bike broke down once on a quiet country road near Hemel Hempstead, a couple of cars and a cyclist stopped to see if I needed help. Of the 3 seperate bikers who passed, not one stopped or even acknowledged me. Nice.
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  #9  
Old 9 May 2011
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If we are talking about waving in Morocco it's certainly disingenuous to try to blame this on riders of a certain brand. I'd go with Chris as regards large groups, some of whom don't wave. But then they tend to be pounding the tarmac of the main roads, not the side roads and pistes.

I'm normally riding alone, so if I see a small group approaching in the far distance I'll often pull over to the side of the road and see if they stop. Mostly they do and it's a chance for a chin wag. Nobody should worry about ten minutes out of their schedule to stop and chat to other bikers.


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Old 9 May 2011
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In response to the OP's question. Waving is a personal thing. Wave if you feel like it. Don't make it a self fulfilling prophecy by not waving yourself. You may not get the response you're used to but you'll probably get no response at all if you don't take the first step yourself, given the scenario you described.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
If we are talking about waving in Morocco it's certainly disingenuous to try to blame this on riders of a certain brand. I'd go with Chris as regards large groups, some of whom don't wave. But then they tend to be pounding the tarmac of the main roads, not the side roads and pistes.
I was becoming a bit discouraged with the tone of the responses in this thread until Tim posted something more sensible. In Western Canada and USA my experience has been that most bikers wave at each other no matter what they ride. There are of course exceptions. I've been waved at and not waved at by just about everything imaginable.

Preconceived notions about someone based on what they ride seems to be contrary to the spirit of travel and adventure. I prefer being on the road with an open mind. When I was younger I got it into my mind that Harley riders never waved back so I stopped waving at them myself. In the last 4 years I started waving at everything and much to my surprise found almost everyone, including Harley riders, riders of aforementioned "shiny" German bikes, race rocket riders, and even scooter riders waving back ...hmmm, go figure! Maybe North Americans in the west are simply friendlier?

It's been my experience that the amount of waving decreases with the size of the group and the number of bikes on the road in general. Within the cities there also seems to be less waving. The less bike traffic the more waving.

But most importantly the trip is about having fun and not reading to much into other people's actions or lack thereof ..in my humble opinion.

Now back to my mud splattered F650GS with metal and plastic cases whose shine are nothing but a distant memory.




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Old 9 May 2011
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My faith is restored! I think Chris is right about large groups being less inclined to greet.
Tim, those are scary looking guys in the photos.......was it safe to stop? hehe!
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Old 10 May 2011
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The chap on the red bike was certainly keen not to stop for petrol too often, looks like 56 litres on board? With all that weight down there he'd be able to hop off, shake your hand and run after the bike, never mind just wave

Andy
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Old 10 May 2011
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Michelle's got it (as usual): people wave less in Morocco if you're coming from the south because there are way more of them. You're coming from areas of the continent where overland riders are rare and stand out from the background noise. In Morocco, suddenly they're all over the place in great teeming hordes. Add the tour group effect and a lot of them never even think of waving.

Meet up with them at rest stops and walk over to say hello and you'll find most are as friendly as can be. I had European tour groups (matching head-to-toe outfits branded in the usual manner) go wild over the fact I was out there on my own on a Japanese bike which had clearly seen better days. Sometimes I just about had to pry myself free in order to carry on with my trip. Of course, on other occasions I met people far more rugged than I (which is not saying much, particularly). Get all huffy about who waved at whom and I'd have missed half the fun.

This applies close to home as reliably as it does in North Africa. And it's by no means limited to riding around on motorbikes.

My $0.02.

Mark
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  #14  
Old 19 May 2011
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Nice

It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice etc.
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  #15  
Old 23 May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie View Post
I’ve been in Morocco for about six weeks now, travelling by myself on my KLR. It’s carried me for 42,000kms through Africa, parts of the Middle East, Mediterranean coast and now Morocco . I’m not really a motorcyclist and bought the bike just to do this trip. I was planning on selling it in Europe and then fly back to South Africa, but I like travelling around on my bike and discover/experience different places, people and cultures. I also liked the motorcycle camaraderie that I encountered right through from South Africa to Spain……until I hit Morocco
In Africa, your fellow motorcyclists will not only greet you, they will stop, chat for a long time, and probably invite you for a drink or to join them for dinner to share experiences and stories. On the open road in Europe you will get a raised hand, extended arm, helmet nod, or a leg being kicked out……all acknowledgement of that camaraderie, and you know that if you really find yourself in a tight spot, these guys and gals will not hesitate to help .
Not in Morocco . I must have passed a few hundred motorcycles by now, mostly riding in groups. In the beginning, when I saw that familiar sight of headlight, helmeted rider, and protruding panniers, I got excited, and I would give an extended arm greeting to often just receive a stare (if I’m lucky!) or just be totally ignored. It took me by surprise a few times but apart from wondering how big the stick up that guys’ ass was I ignored it. Then it happened again and again and again and again until I finally decided to stop greeting. That’s when I noticed that very few riders would actually initiate a greeting. I gave much thought to this and couldn’t believe that the same guys who would greet you in the rest of Africa and Europe are now so ‘self-important’
I had just pulled off the side of a quiet road a few days ago when a group of five bikes appeared out of nowhere. I was simply going to ignore them as just another group of wannabe adventurers thinking Morocco qualifies you as a serious biker dude when the front rider slowed down, opened his visor and gestured an is-everything-ok. I was taken by surprise but managed to signal a yes. Every guy in that group greeted me…..I couldn’t believe it and decided to give chase to find out where they came from….France!
That group made me reconsider my own attitude, so now I greet again, fully expecting to be ignored though, and taking count……I only started recently but the count now is: Good Guys 21 (70%), Bad Guys 9 (30%) and I cannot help but think how miserable it must be to travel in a group where some of the guys are so sour that you feel like puking when you have to face them first thing in the morning , and I count my blessings for the friendly waves I get from the locals and even some of the campervans……perhaps I’m using the wrong transportation in Morocco
Very nice!! Please give us a bit more info regarding your route up Africa, if you don't mind, or do you have a site/blog we can visit
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