Monthly Archives: October 2013

To Sahara

Atlas….

20131025-190136.jpgI pedal off Marrakech after comfort of bed and worm of amazing companions, now on the horizon lays chains of mountains to be crossed. Nice ride through the green valley with gentle climb leading to the mountains. At the end of the day I found myself in the middle of Berber market. It was such a sight of mountains duelers come together to trade.

Had my dinner in the market place charting with enthusiastic curiosities who proudly teach me few words from their amazing language. Though for quick look their slight physical appearance different from Arabs to whom they claim to differ. Apparently, Morocco has such tensity of tribal and races. Berbers which also vary in sub tribes they are proud with their languages and mix culture sometime overlap with late arriver Arabs.. Lots of young folks seem to enjoy their dagaas which they will try to offer before I kindly refuse.

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The roads on Atlas Mountains they are so different from most of the roads I have cycled through, they mostly tend to go through the valley which make it ease to cycle but still offer maximum challenge. Berber header boys remind me of Maasai header boys, they will chance from mountain and screaming at me to ask for water even though they are near the village. I learn that this is their trick to stop me , when I stop and chart them they will wonder if I can sell them tires or something. Camping in this mountains I try to avoid them but often after I set up my tent they will emerge from villages guiding their sheep by hitting them with stones and scream at them.

Long decent to Agadir I have to share with Mercedes Benz taxes most of them full of sheep. These vans are design to carry passages and on top extension to carry languages. This time were sheep and goats, I later learn all those sheep and goats were taken to their destiny, the mass offering, El Ed.

Agadir, is huge urban of south link desert, mountains and northern urban. It looks like lost touristic destination and still welcome lost tourists. Stayed at grand state camping site which demonstrate failure of state business for it unkept, polluted environment and broken down facilities. Shared this with lots of old French forks who seem to be comfortable staying on their camping van down here. Fisherman will roam in the sun down to sell fish to the campers, prepare them around, inviting seagulls and flys and intolerable smell.

The evening brings locals and students (Agadir also has university which server huge sparsely populated region) as well to the well lighted beach park full of different activities. Most notable is Arabic scribing in the moutain; Allah, King and Country.

20131025-193525.jpgSingle road leaving the city to the south from Agadir, it busy road, 85km I avoid the direction to Tiznit and cycle through pleasant Mossa valley. Fertile and green valley surrounded with arable land show important of such ecological niche and it tremendous support to life. Thought might consider primitive but with great link to nature are farmers tilling their land with hoe, some carrying grasses on their donkeys. The valley wind blew the aroma of cultivated spices fresh carrots, mint, among others; it makes this small place the feelings of biblical tellers.

Playing… what an act of humbleness and submission?
Although I have less satisfaction on institution religions I am still opportunistic of spiritual and cherish with the great philosophy behind. Cycling in Islamic countries I often see man praying. In my coffee/tea breaks I will observe them as they start with simple washing specific areas in their body, general from top to bottom while murmuring certain prayers. Muslims of Berber/Beduins often have no established mosque, in some villages there will be no early morning wake up pray call. This man keep small mat for the prayer.The pray will continue with more complex position with deep calmness while reciting prayer. Watching this man as they show such act of humbleness and submission it like travel back to the birth of human understand, that he is not on the top of nature. It rare practice in the modern societies. I remain with my inner debate concerning it practicality especial in the urban areas, I will ponder on this while pedal through the dunes with the ocean wave but non revel me the secrets of life.

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At the certain point the beach get more rugged, little pass brought me to Sidi Ifni. I had fish tajin while listen to young Russian man (16) telling me about his hitch hiking adventure. El Ed was already on the air, shops started to close down while folks doing their last shoppings. As I cycled out of the town I bumped to another touring with loaded bike with what looks like new panniers but himself with beards he looks like he have been in the road for age. Paulin, French (24), on the begin of his world tour which will include staying over places for work (www.whereispaulin.com). He have trying to sort invitation for the local family to invite him for El Ed without success, I convince him to carry on as he was heading the same direction, that we may be able to fill that experience in the small village that in the town. Thirty kilometers out of Sidi Ifin on the searching for camping spot on the beach two gentlemen wave us to go over they house.

Mohamed and his uncle Hassan invite us to celebrate El Ed with their big family in Guilmim. Just as it is extend family once you enter this family the ‘me’ will not exist everything become ‘us’ and the person freedom and privacy is gone.

El Ed in Guilmim…

20131025-191117.jpgGuilmim is the door to real Sahara, the culture here is great influence with the stunning desert culture which I will come to learn more further south. In our first night we were installed in the family as we wait for dinner we hang out in the cafe. Men here hang out in the cafe which are so many by numbers and hardly to find any female around. Apart of providing finance I have seen little else done with most man regarding family affaires. The dinner come at 12 midnight, I had to take coffee to keep up with this hours. Despite of hearing the female voices and the fact that they are the one prepared lot and reach food we couldn’t meet them to express our appreciation either help with cleaning the table.

20131025-191600.jpgWhen we attempt to clean the table we were strongly resisted with claim that ‘we have women’. I am not sure if I have hear such statement in my life, it struck me, just to realize that I come from the community which have made lot of progress regards gender equality. Since I young I have never have doughty about our equality since know one have ever demonstrate distinctive different out of nature. My grand mother played both roll as mother and father in my childhood.

Next morning we were workmen up with cries of sheep, it is massive offering, thousands of goats, sheep, and less cattle were slaughtered in this day. This is to fulfill the holly words from Kroan when Ibrahim was due to offer his only son to God for thanks and as the testimony for his faith, after all the preparation he was offered sheep by God. This chapter like many others correspond with bible though in christianity doesn’t reserve such fist and celebration. If did and at the sometime we would be sorry for the poor animals.

Everything was so different in this day, no business on operation, streets calm and deserted, men and woman on the new dresses, for us full bellies and TV showers that hospital was busy as people end up cutting themselves on the mass slaughtering.

After your installed in the families to leave is another mission, there will be lot of proposal to live the day after, so we can eat to be bit stronger. In most cases

20131025-194749.jpg they don’t understand the whole things of travel with bicycle ; how it is possible, why; these are just most pressing question for them. In the desert now, the life is consisting much eating and sleeping.Hot and dry weather keep most indoor. Dinner in the midnight or early morning and go to be around 2-3 am, wake up at 10am- 1pm. The streets are busy around 7pm to 1am.

20131025-193427.jpg We had to adopt berbers/bedouins costume which is turban protect the heard from the sun, it also help to minimize the amount of water taken by sun without knowing. With the distance of maximum 100 kilometers per day under oppressive heat but amazing desert landscape with it magnificent sand dunes on the road along the atlantic coast we made it to El Ayun (Laayoune). It is biggest town in the West Sahara, the non-self government country. From Tan Tan the coast is full of military outposts while the road has couple of police check points before village or town or sometime they stop us randomly on the over heated desert to demand passport which they can hardly read. They note down some details in the pice of paper with misspelling which they will stay no ‘problem’. When we ask why they do this the answer is ‘for you’re security’ which doesn’t explain anything to give passport every 30km.

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El Maghreb

Second year anniversary of Chile to Kili project…
It was a beautiful day as sun break through the dark accompanied with muzihin calling for morning prayer, it is first october 2013 my twenty seventh birthday and second for Chile to Kili since the launch of the project.

Listening to birds call in this calm corner of Rabat, in this morning my brain was occupied so much to process, so much to reflect on this day as I looked around; What I have, behind… Where I am coming from. And in front… Where I am going. Well, what a moment! I wondered back into childhood all the way to current state and position, couldn’t transcend what seem like great fortune to live.

Last physical position of earth like this, last october I was cycling in the California, USA. Opposite position from where I am today. Separated with immense Atlantic Ocean. Honestly, I was full of fear and feelings of uncertainty. The commitment I took on has worn me down, not only by pedaling what seemed like endless kilometers, but also seeing and confronting the wide world of controversial subjects such as conservation of natural environment, poverty, access to eduction and sustainable development. As if that wasn’t enough burden, the effort to gather scholarship funds hasn’t yet produced the expected results… Far from that! In the middle of all this, I need to keep a positive mind, which will be the main driving force: I need/want to continue. Thanks to the experience I bestowed from my childhood till these very days.

Thanks again to Philippe and Yves for insisting and offer a little but worth celebration for this day. And loads of appreciation as well for all the friends who spent their valuable time to send me happy and best wisher.

El Maghreb…

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Morocco, the most western frontier of human movement from Sahara desert and Arabia. Its general environment and ecology describe so many things, for me it is another living laboratory or open book. As I cycled off from Tangier to Rabat, my high feelings of excitement will slowly come down to be replaced with the reality which characterizes continental Africa. The two extreme poles, the high optimism and frustration of poverty or low quality of life. As I cycled in this oppressive heat under a blue sky along crystal blue ocean which offered cool breeze, I though about this place.

20131009-212902.jpgThis place, if not the whole part of Morocco, has been frontier of prominent human civilizations, has been subjected to a number of them and eventually merged all those influences in what Morocco is today. Today progress is hanging on the air, with not only a booming economy mainly demonstrated by spectacular infrastructures but also by considerable social reforms and progress.

The level of liberty is higher than I expected, considering the country being islamic and having Qur’an as a guidance for the majority. Often the merchants will tell me ‘This is muslim’s prices’. It seems that important laws here are neither written or spoken. Who would expect there would be gay friendly bars in downtown Rabat or prostitution in Casablanca? Being so close to Europe, urban areas here have not much differences, people are less and less conservative, especially in the young generation. Though from time to time, I still come across religion fanatics and learn how deeply this kind of brainwashing affects people. Once they learn I am African, they fancy it and claim brotherhood according to islamic while enquire how Qur’an is practiced in the place I come from. As a believer of good education as the way to progressive humanity, I hope every corner of the world will achieve this one day.

To Casablanca…
As I cycled to the massive city of Casablanca, I felt the traffic intensifying forty kilometer before the city center. It is traffic of all modes of mobility from bipedal to huge trucks. The most irritating and painful ones are half motorbike-half bicycles… They are hundreds of them polluting with their half burnt fuel and their noise.

I couldn’t find my enthusiasm while visiting the city landmark, a huge mosque stretching to the ocean with a long tower making it the third largest mosque in the world. I felt an equal proportion of fascination for the human art and frustration if one want to think logically: why would somebody spend such a fortune on this while there are much more pressing needs around? I hope one day we will do things according to the important needs and balance our actions.

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It wasn’t easy to sort out accommodation in this busy and bustling city. For some reasons, I will serve one which I assume to be race prejudice. Thanks to my acquaintance, Jilali, 65 years old, for his tireless efforts of keeping on walking in city to ease the situation with city informations and a spice coffee break. We knocked into eleven hotels to end up into a huge but empty one with windows next to the mosque’s huge loud speaker.

To Marrakech…
Companions have been a great support, especially those who joined for a short ride or few days. After a good time with Nelson, I was joined from Casablanca by Mariana.

20131009-213438.jpgUnfortunately, there were few kilometers to be cycled as I received invitation to present the initiative to a group of American travelers in Marrakech.

The presentation to potential donors of American travel group was short and informal, with no projector for the slides. But the environment was very conducive: the sunset on an exquisite riad’s terrace… I was absorbed with talking and forgot about the slides in the iPad. nonetheless the presentation was well received and the discussion very rich, with lots of opinions, comments and questions. The group had a wide knowledge of Africa, including Tanzania they visited a number of times. As they traveled in different countries in the continent, it was easy for them to comprehend my case, understand my cause, and… who knows… contribute to make my dream come true. A big thank you to Gary, Massimo and Le clos des arts!

Marrakech…

20131009-213336.jpgThe old and modern city seems to lay into a wide valley in the Atlas Mountains. It is a fascinating place for landscape, strong and ancient culture, architecture, art, etc. Morocco with its easy access from Europe, multiple destinations and variety of experiences to offer, makes it a very touristic destination. Marrakech is the peak of these swum of tourists. Just as merchants and travelers where attracted here in the old days due to its unique position, it remains today as a get away to the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean.

I am now looking forward to climb the mountains and descend to Agadir, the last main town in Morocco before facing the deep desert throughout Mauritania.

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