WR-ing about in Morocco – 7

Leaving Tan Tan Plage. Up the coastal highway to Guelmim, then inland into the mountains where the skies are about to drop with a big crash.
I Rukka up. Not in a £1000 two-piece suit, but a classic 1980s PVC onesie off ebay for 40 quid.
If you positively, absolutely do not want to get wet (other than what runs down your neck), classic Rukka PVC is the best. Just be careful what you search for – some uses of Rukka PVC onesies are unorthodox and NSFW.

I start climbing. It looks grim up there.

 

No PVC onesies for these two. Woollen jelabas rubbed with goat fat does just fine.

Between the downpours you can smell the scent of the herbs off the hillsides.
Riding a bike all day makes it easy to dodge food, but at this little village shop I pull in for some bread, cheese and yogs.

Laughing Cow – one of the great travel foods of Africa. You’ll find it all the way to the Cape and back.
Rumour has it Damien Hirst got his idea to pickle a cow in formaldehyde after finding a 15-year-old packet of Vache down the back of his sofa one night while on the munchies, and finding it tasted unnervingly fresh.

 

After Tafraoute the road climbs steeply onto the western Anti Atlas. It gets bleak and darn chilly.
I watch the elevation rise to over 1900m or 6200’ and get colder and colder and colder.

 

Back again at the basic Igherm hotel – 7 quid rooms. If the footie was on there’d be standing room only in the bar, but it’s just some bint reading the news.
Luckily, hot chorba (soup) is on. I get two bowls worth then retire to my cell to warm up from the inside.

 

Next morning – chilly – but WR fires up on the button. I love that about efi.

 

Down the road towards the High Atlas.

 

In Taliouine I decide I’ll try the Jebel Sirwa transit (MH7), seeing as I’ve not done it for years.

 

I ride the switchbacks up to Askaoun. A few kms out of town is a rough sign for Anzal.

 

Last time I did this route I met two locals in a VW Golf, but the track is a lot rougher than I remember – a bad sign as it means it’s no longer used by locals. Sure enough I get to the gorge and the track is now a streambed. A fourbie could crawl over this in Low 1st and so could I, but alone, I decide not to risk it. As many of us know well, it takes just one unlucky fall-over to do in a shoulder.

Instead, back at Askaoun I turn west. They’ve sealed the other half of MH7 – a lovely spring afternoon’s ride down to…

 

… the dam which is brimming over with a winter’s rain.

 

Another £1 vache stop at the village shop. A couple of KTMs and a DRZ shoot by. The first bikes I’ve seen.

It’s pizza night at the Bab Sahara in Tazenacht! The staff dress up like pantomime gondoliers and Pavarotti booms from the speakers. “Just one Cornetto… Give it to meee”.

 

Tazenacht is a normal market town and a great place to buy Berber carpets at good prices and zero hassle. I can’t resist a couple.
That’s £120 quid’s worth – a lot of money really, but all dyed and woven by hand.
I only hope the women who weave them out in the villages on the Issil plane get their fair share, but I doubt it.

 

Just another photogenic ruined mudbrick kasbah off the Oued Draa valley.

 

The dam up at Ouarzazate releases water daily to irrigate the gardens and palmeries all the way down to Mhamid on the Algerian border. Produce, eggs and meat as fresh as you like (vachish excepted).

 

I pull in at Tamnougalte. Tomorrow I’ll try a gnarly new way over Jebel Sarhro, then over the High Atlas and home.

 

Part 8  > > >

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