Our next motorcycle epic – Morocco to Japan – is about to begin.
We’ve beaten the motorbikes to Morocco by a few days so an opportunity to acclimatise and soak up the atmosphere sans hot & sweaty riding apparel. We’re in Agadir, a city on the southern coast of Morocco Proper with some 500,000 residents and wonderful beaches. I say ‘proper’ because not far south of here is the disputed border of the old Spanish, or Western Sahara, which Morocco doesn’t recognise and indeed has occupied since 1976 when the Spanish pulled out. The 2,700 km berm (sand wall) the Moroccan’s built in the 1980’s & loaded with landmines makes the 250km DMZ on the Korean peninsula look like a line in a children’s sandpit. It runs all the way from Mauritania’s northern border up to Morocco Proper – all to keep out the displaced members of the 400,000 Sahrawi population – nowadays located mainly in refugee camps in the southwest corner of Algeria. Their insurgency movement, the Polisario is recognised by the UN as the representative of the people of Western Sahara – only Morocco says ‘too bad’.
We’re thinking of heading south to see it.
Meanwhile, we’re doing Agadir on bicycles today and so it’s straight to the Souk El-Had, one of those every-day-of-the-week, Sunday markets. It’s monstrous, with all the wares and marvellous veggies you’d expect – albeit at a fraction of the price we’re used to. But after a while wandering through the labyrinth of stalls – and stocking up on dates and olives – we settle into a café stall for our first tagine of the trip. At $3 it’s slightly cheaper than the $25 equivalent in Wellington, not to mention the authenticity of eating in a bazaar surrounded by folks in strange dresses all selling strange spices and fruits. This will be our norm I’m sure, by the time we catch the ferry from Tangier to Europe in a month’s time.
Latest word is the container with our motor bikes has landed in Casablanca, some 500 kms north of here. So it’s decision time – head north or south first?