I 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.
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.
Single 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.
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…
Guilmim 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.
When 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
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.
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.