May 21, 2007 GMT

Sun 13 and we were off to Marakesh after having had our boots cleaned for 50p,through the Atlas mountains and what a spectacular ride on deserted roads with tiny villages.They say that traversing the Atlas is one of the motor cycle 'musts ' and we tend to agree with that!
Again we were offered kif and there are pottery places every where trying to sell their wares or crystals of bright red or green. A lorry had lost 2 wheels off the axle near to the top- just avoided going over the edge !
If it's market daya you see pick up trucks with 2 horse, some sheep, goats and people piled into the back .Peugot 103's qbound with 4 being the maximum we have seen on one- so far!
There are water taps by the side of the road that are well able to be seen as they are usually surrounded by tiles. We take advantage of these to douse our heads with water.
Bourgonvillia abounds , flowers are a riot of colour and the prickly pear is in bloom.It is like going back a few centuries in time with the abobe houses, people harvesting by scythe and all using a donkey or horse as the main transport.

They sit in any bit of shade available which could be a telegraph pole or a sign post.

25 degrees when we left and again, alot of police checks. Before we left a cat ran across the road right in front of us ( and used one of it's 9 lives), a child deliberately jumped out in front of the bike and a taxi cut us up from the inside !---- All in a space of 5 miles!

The thermal kit is stowed of course and we are now wearing the camel paks for fluids on the go.

Alot of the ladies here have decorations on their hands with henna. The Morrocons love to laugh and share a joke. They are very friendly even if they do not understand my French !A good hotel is 780 drms per night ( 50 per night ) including breakfast. Meals are 7.74 each and that's for 3 courses. We bought a large packet of crisps, cheese, biscuits and toothpaste for 1.16 !

We arrived in the red walled city of Marakesh and could hardly believe that we were here. Such a romantic sounding place and traffic was'nt as bad as we thought. We took a taxi to the Jemma el Ftn square at dusk and it was great. Stalls selling every thing you can imagine, snake charmers, story tellers musicians playing,water sellers wearing traditional dress, magicians. All of theses surrounded by a huge mass of people watching-- talk about atmosphere.It gets dark about 7.30pm . Cats are every where and are tolerated even in the restaurants. Stray dogs live on the outskirts of town and are thin.

Next day we had a day off with the view of getting a new back tyre. The guy from the hotel was very helpful and took us to the garage to try to arrange this. This was at 10 am. Told to go back at 1pm. Then told to phone at 4pm-- when we were told that the tyre could be got from Casablanca - that he wanted the whole of the money up front and that with fitting it was goling to cost 295 !!!!!!------- Colin politely told him that was far too much money and demanded the deposit back ( which we grudgingly got ).

So that was virtually a day wasted but we did manage to see the souk etc.The best bit of the day for me was realising at the last minute that I could go with Colin ( thought the guy from the hotel was going to ride pillion ). I hopped on the bike wearing jeans, shirt, hat and FLIPFLOPS !!!!!!! What a great ride, definitely some thing you could'nt do in UK! The bike is parked outside the hotel which has a guard 24 hours a day and costs the massive sum of 1. 29 as the tip to the guy.

The currency here is MAD's - ie Dirhams and there are 15.5 to .

That evening we went to a traditional Morroccan evening that included a meal of 7 courses ( one was the inevitable cous cous) and then we had a display of horse riding which was amazing. Jumping over the saddle when the horse was at full gallop, doing hand stands and picking up a hat at full gallop.What agility and fine horse manship.

Tued 15 and on to Ouzazarate still through the Atlas with the famous red soil. The girls are singing as we pass walking with fully laden donkeys. The children will wave madly and stand by the bike, very shy and hold out their hand for a bon- bon. They are in tatters of clothes and you wonder what the conditions are that they live in.There are areas here that remind you of Turkey and Iran.

On the other side of the mountain it was totally different terain and near to the Sahara we had 10 huge drops of rain !It is more sandy and stark and hot at 35 degrees whilst travelling.

The hotel here had a very nice area outside by the pool that was arranged like the Bedouin tents- very pretty and comfortable.

Wed and out to see the Atlas film studios which had film sets for many Egyptian films. The guide assured us that Hollywood films' are all an illusion'. One set took 1 year to build. The builders get 500 drms per day(32) and the extras 150 drms (9.67)

Thur 17 through to Tinhir at 85 degrees at 9 am. Desert scrub with areas of green oasis. We drove up through the Dades valley and went off to see the Todra gorge which is 900 feet deep. There are loads of touts about and are a pain in the neck.

Friday 18 and on to Midelt through the mid Atlas to greener areas and trees.
Sat 19 and on to Fez that turned out to be 100 degrees ! We eventually found the Ibis hotel and they were full. Our error as we should have booked ahead. Unusually for the Ibis the staff were less than helpful and we were having a deja vu of what happened in Delhi ( heat exhaustion )--- and we got out as fast as we could.So it turned out to be a long day of driving 288 miles and boy , did we know we had done it as it was all mountain riding!

We stopped at a road side cafe for a drink and there were 20 young men sat in a circle watching the TV, I asked for the loo which had no door, the Western toilet was positioned just off centre in a large room, just out of sight of the cafe! No seat, of course.
We arrived atChefehouan which had a lovely Medina and souk and it was really nice to be in the cool of the mountains.

Sun20 and onj to the ferry from Sebta to Algerciras for 57 and then back to Gibralter where we are for a few days , trying to get a tyre! This is turning out to be difficult and we are now waiting for a phone call from Spain to see if they can locate one. It's definitely thrown the budget out of the window as the hotel id 79 per night- but I can think of wordse places of being stuck ! Weather is cool and last night we had rain but Gib is lovely.
Total miles 3134

Posted by Dee Masters at May 21, 2007 04:58 PM GMT

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