Saturday 12 January 2008

9th Jan 08

Date: 9th Jan 07
Location: Chicchaoua – the arse-end of all service stations
Weather: Clear blue skies, 10°c
Status: Ben – Loving Morocco, Colonel – marching on

Another cold night in the tent due to the altitude, so awoke to 2°c temps outside, hastily packed up and left the gorge behind as we started the trek to Marrakech to meet Luke and his Mum. Our journey took us over the High Atlas mountains and for the first time we spotted Mount Toubkal in the distance, snow covered and ominously huge! Will be back in this area in a weeks time to start the first ascent.

Dropped down from an altitude of 2200m to 500m on some of the most exciting/scary roads yet with sheer drops of the side and crash barriers which may as well not be there. Passed a number of broken down trucks halfway up the passes – god only knows how they get spares, repair them and then get on their way again! When you see how some of the trucks are loaded with hay you’d be amazed, literally hanging 5m off the back, front and sides and looking like they’ll tip over at any point – one had done just that and managed to completely block one lane on the steepest of descents leaving about 20 bales all over the road with one guy fast asleep on top waiting for his ride to return, only in Africa!

So we TRIED to get into Marrakech to find a bed for the night but it was 17.30hrs slap bang in the middle of the rush hour and when we tried to ask a policeman for directions it was obviously the wrong time to do it as he asked us very politely to move on!

Marrakech is split into the old and new town and we were trying to meet Luke near his hotel in the old medina but trying to get vehicles there is a nightmare, so we made the decision to head out of the centre and try again in the morning, simple you’d think? The road to Agadir was bound to have a hotel/motel/riad/Kasbah somewhere along it but after an hour driving with the sun disappearing rather quickly nothing surfaced so we pulled into a service station (where I’m writing this from) and set up camp by the side of the road with the blessing of the Royale Gendarmerie. Not the most attractive of camps so far but somewhere to rest our weary heads until the morning when Luke & Mum arrive to rescue us!

End of day location: Chicchaoua, Morocco.
Distance covered: 350kms

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